Friday, August 24, 2012
Fresh faces: Oklahoma Sooners
By David Ubben
Today we continue our look across the league at few players from each team who had low profiles last year, but you'd better get to know before 2012. They just might be household names by season's end.
More fresh faces:
Next up: Oklahoma.
Bronson Irwin, OG: Those high-profile injuries along the offensive line? Get to know the guys stepping in to help. Guard Gabe Ikard slid over to center to replace the retired Ben Habern, but Irwin will be the man who replaces Tyler Evans, out for the season with a knee injury. Irwin won't be a slouch. He was already pushing for playing time in camp, and now he's earned it, even though the circumstances are far from ideal. Irwin, a 6-foot-5, 307-pound lifelong Sooner fan, played in every game last year and had 14 knockdowns in just 127 total snaps.
Geneo Grissom, TE: Oklahoma suffered big-time attrition at tight end over the offseason when two players left the team and two more graduated. The Sooners were likely to depend on juco transfers and freshmen, but Grissom's come out of nowhere to have a shot at earning the starting spot. His progress at defensive end had been slowed by injuries, and the Kansas native was stuck at third on the depth chart at the position, making just five career tackles. Then, he saw opportunity. He's making the most of it now, and even if he doesn't start, you have to figure the 6-foot-4, 247-pounder will find a way to make an impact at his new position.
Chuka Ndulue, DE: Ndulue's emerged this offseason as a major player on the defensive line, but like Irwin, his opportunity has come from poor circumstances. Oklahoma hasn't released its preseason depth chart yet, but Ndulue figures to be a big part of it if not a starter at defensive end. Starting tackle Stacy McGee is suspended, forcing end David King to move inside, and allowing Ndulue to move up the depth chart. The Dallas native hasn't played much, making just three tackles in seven games last year, but we'll see that the 6-foot-3, 256-pounder is made of in his first real action this season as a third-year sophomore. His name, by the way, is pronounced "N-duel-E."