Friday, July 8, 2011
Sooners gain a CB, lose a big question mark
By ESPN.com staff
Looking to lose games in the Big 12?
The inability to stop the pass is a good place to start. Oklahoma coaches felt confident about Gabe Lynn's talent and performance this spring, but Jamell Fleming's absence was obvious.
Now, Fleming is back on the team after academic problems forced him out of spring practice during the winter semester.
Heading into 2011, especially with Nebraska gone, he was the Big 12's top returning corner. And Oklahoma, which enters the season with legitimate national title aspirations, had been forced to rely on Lynn, a sophomore with very little actual experience.
Fleming is a senior with two strong years of special teams experience and a year starting at cornerback. He'd played in 40 career games in three seasons to Lynn's seven in two seasons.
Experience, much less Fleming's currently superior talent, can't be underestimated. For now, Fleming will have to unseat Lynn in fall camp and earn his way back onto the field, but if he plays like he did late in the season in 2010, that shouldn't be a problem.
Oklahoma must replace both safeties, NFL draft picks Quinton Carter and Jonathan Nelson. Having two cornerbacks with a year of solid experience, will smooth that transition. With Fleming back in the fold, that's exactly what the Sooners have.
One bad game could spell disaster for Oklahoma in a conference full of top-flight quarterbacks, including the two teams gunning to knock the Sooners off the top of the Big 12 heap, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State.
Fleming, who will likely join Demontre Hurst as the two starting cornerbacks in front of safeties Aaron Colvin and Javon Harris, should help make sure that one of the Sooners' biggest question marks in 2011, an inexperienced secondary, becomes a much less troubling question.