Dallas Colleges: Trey Metoyer

How Big 12's top recruits in 2011 panned out

February, 2, 2015
Feb 2
Four years have now passed, which is more than enough time to look back and evaluate how the Big 12's top recruits in the class of 2011 panned out.

None of these players ended up on par with the eventual stars of that 2011 class -- Jadeveon Clowney, Sammy Watkins and Teddy Bridgewater are doing pretty well, you know -- and, in fact, only eight of these 16 ended up finishing their careers at the schools they initially signed with.

This class produced big-time Big 12 talents like Trevone Boykin, Jace Amaro, Spencer Drango and Le'Raven Clark. But they didn't crack the ESPN 150 as high schoolers. A closer look back at what happened to the ESPN 150 players who signed with Big 12 schools:

No. 7: Malcolm Brown, RB, Texas -- Brown had a hard time playing up to his five-star hype, but he gave Texas four solid seasons while sharing carries throughout. He rushed for 2,678 yards and 24 touchdowns in 44 games and twice earned second-team All-Big 12 honors. His best stretch came in the second half of 2013 (five 100-plus yard games), but O-line woes slowed Brown down as a senior and he never produced a 1,000-yard season.

No. 11: Aaron Green, RB, Nebraska -- We’ll make an exception here, since Green did end up taking his talents to the Big 12. After playing sparingly as a true freshman for the Huskers, Green transferred to TCU and finally broke out in 2014, rushing for 922 yards and closing out the season as one of the league’s most exciting backs.

[+] EnlargeQuandre Diggs
Brendan Maloney/USA TODAY SportsQuandre Diggs proved to be a steady producer during his four-year career at Texas.
No. 21: Quandre Diggs, CB, Texas -- A four-year starter and probably the most productive player of these former ESPN 150 recruits. He logged 241 tackles, 37 pass breakups and 11 interceptions as a do-everything corner/nickel who became the heart and soul of Texas’ defense.

No. 31: Desmond Jackson, DT, Texas -- Jackson has played in 41 games (16 starts) and is coming back to be one of the Longhorns’ veteran leaders in 2015. A foot injury ended his senior season after three games, but Jackson is taking a medical redshirt and will get a redo.

No. 35: Brandon Williams, RB, Oklahoma -- Despite playing as a true freshman, Williams elected to transfer from OU after less than a year in the program. He opted to play closer to home and his 2-year-old daughter at Texas A&M. In two seasons in the Aggies’ rotation of backs (including six starts in 2014), Williams has accounted for 730 total yards and five scores.

No. 51: Trey Metoyer, WR, Oklahoma -- Spent a year at prep school after failing to qualify, then arrived at OU in 2012 with serious hype. Metoyer was benched four games into his freshman year and was removed from the program in 2013 after an arrest for two counts of indecent exposure. He was arrested again last year after another indecent exposure complaint.

No. 55: Steve Edmond, LB, Texas -- A three-year starter at Texas, Edmond raised his game as a senior under Charlie Strong. He earned honorable mention All-Big 12 recognition after 131 tackles and 13 TFLs in his final season as a Longhorn. The hard-hitting middle linebacker didn’t hold back on the field or when talking about Baylor.

No. 64: Danzel Williams, RB, Oklahoma -- Bounced around between running back and defensive back and redshirted as a freshman while dealing with a shoulder injury. Williams left OU in 2012 and then resurfaced for one season at Central Arkansas.

No. 87: Josh Turner, ATH, Texas -- Turner played in 37 games in his first three seasons at Texas and made five starts at free safety. After nearly being dismissed from the program last summer, he served a two-game suspension and played on special teams in nine games as a senior.

No. 93: Sedrick Flowers, OG, Texas -- Flowers will likely be a multi-year starter for the Longhorns after holding down the left guard job for all 13 games this season. He chipped in as a reserve for two seasons and finished his sophomore year with a start in the Alamo Bowl before taking over his starting gig and putting together a solid junior season.

No. 95: LaDarius Brown, WR, TCU -- Brown caught 95 passes in two seasons, but a February 2014 arrest for marijuana possession ended his time in Fort Worth early. Brown was kicked off the team and went on to enroll at Sam Houston State. He led the FCS Bearkats in receiving yards (807) and touchdown catches (seven) this season.

No. 101: Nathan Hughes, DE, Oklahoma -- Sooner coaches moved the 6-foot-6 Hughes over from defensive end to offensive tackle, but he never saw the field in two seasons at OU. He left the program in the spring of 2013 and that appears to have been the end of his playing days.

No. 103: Jordan Wade, DT, Oklahoma -- Wade was thrust into the starting lineup for eight starts as a redshirt freshman in 2013, then was relegated to more of a reserve role last season after Matthew Romar beat him out for the top backup duties at nose tackle. Wade appeared in six games and recorded nine tackles.

No. 119: Jordan Phillips, DT, Oklahoma -- Even if he only started 17 games, Phillips played up to his high potential in three seasons before electing to enter the NFL draft early. The big 6-foot-6, 334-pound lineman logged 39 stops and seven tackles for loss as a junior, a nice bounce-back year after a back injury shut down his 2013 season after four games.

No. 124: Herschel Sims, RB, Oklahoma State -- Sims was dismissed from OSU in the summer of 2012 after being charged with forgery for withdrawing $700 from a teammate’s bank account. He pleaded guilty and received an 18-month deferred sentence, then enrolled at Lamar but quit the team midway through the 2012 season. So, he went home to Abilene Christian. After sitting out 2013 as a transfer, Sims rushed for 559 yards and four scores for ACU this fall and still has one season remaining.

No. 133: Leroy Scott, CB, Texas -- One of the first players Strong dismissed when he took over at Texas. Scott did show promise at times, playing in 38 games and sharing UT’s special-teams player of year honor in 2013. He recovered three fumbles that season and was poised to take on a bigger role before his departure.

Big 12's lunch links

February, 13, 2014
Don't just talk about it, LeBron. Be about it.

Big 12 lunchtime links

October, 16, 2013
You're welcome, Mexico.
  • The Cyclones are looking for a way to utilize RB Aaron Wimberly while also keeping him healthy, according to the Ames Tribune's Bobby La Gesse. Iowa State is the last squad to hold Baylor under 30 points, the Des Moines Register's Tommy Birch points out.
  • Former Baylor QB Robert Griffin III is the seventh-most liked player in the NFL, according to Forbes; ex-Oklahoma RB Adrian Peterson is second. Also, here's the block that got Baylor WR Corey Coleman suspended for a half.
  • Texas Tech QB Baker Mayfield returned to practice Tuesday, reports the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal's Don Williams. The Red Raiders are looking hard at their special teams after a poor showing last weekend against Iowa State.
  • The pupil is about to face his mentor in Morgantown, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Bob Hertzel writes. Former West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez revealed some regrets, reports Mitch Vingle of the Charleston Gazette
  • A win this weekend in Stillwater could bring some sizzle back to TCU’s season, writes the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Stefan Stevenson. Nothing seems to be going right for the Horned Frogs this season, including the tires on the team bus. The Frogs are actually going to practice at OU the night before heading to Oklahoma State.
  • Charlie Weis' offensive shakeup is a positive step, in the opinion of the Lawrence Journal-World's Tom Keegan.
  • Bill Snyder is seeing progress in Manhattan, reports the Topeka Capital-Journal's Ken Corbitt.
  • After Oklahoma WR Trey Metoyer was charged with two counts of indecent exposure, coach Bob Stoops indicated the former blue-chip recruit would not be returning to the team. QB Blake Bell is under the gun, says The Oklahoman's Ryan Aber.
  • Despite his struggles, Oklahoma State is concerned about TCU QB Trevone Boykin, writes The Oklahoman's Gina Mizell. The Cowboys linebackers have developed chemistry, in the eyes of Jimmie Tramel of the Tulsa World.
  • Texas has appointed a seven-member advisory committee to search for an athletic director to replace the retiring DeLoss Dodds.

NORMAN, Okla. -- The ball floated toward the two competitors as they both battled for position to pluck it out of the air. Seconds later, Oklahoma receiver Trey Metoyer leaped over his teammate to pluck the ball from the sky with ease. It was a spectacular play during Metoyer’s first spring game in Norman and one of the reasons he entered the 2012 season with plenty of preseason accolades.

In his first official game in a Sooners’ uniform, Metoyer was in a similar situation and, again, outfought the defender to make the catch in the 2012 season opener against UTEP. But the would-be reception went down as an incompletion instead as Metoyer was out-of-bounds when he made the catch after not running his route with the precision required along the sidelines.

[+] EnlargeTrey Metoyer
Richard Rowe/US PresswireSophomore wideout Trey Metoyer, who caught just 17 passes last season, could have a much bigger impact for the Sooners in 2013.
These are two drastically different examples of Metoyer’s journey.

In his first 18 months at OU, the sophomore receiver starred during the spring of 2012, struggled during his true freshman season and heads into this season looking to help replace Kenny Stills and Justin Brown in OU’s lineup.

“Success wasn’t coming to him the way he wanted,” receivers coach Jay Norvell said. “He was frustrated. He’s used to playing well at a really high level. When you walk in that door [at OU], you better come in here expecting to come and play, or you’re not really at the right place. That’s the kind of mentality he had walking in the door and when he didn’t have that kind of success, it was frustrating."

Metoyer entered the 2012 season as the Big 12’s preseason newcomer of the year and started his first four games in crimson and cream. Then, after Fresno State transfer Jalen Saunders was cleared to play before the Texas game, Metoyer tumbled down the depth chart, finishing with just 17 receptions for 148 yards and a touchdown. Ten of those catches came before Saunders’ was cleared in mid-October.

Yet, Saunders and Metoyer have become close friends, even spending time after practice during the spring to hone their skills. Saunders, a senior, has made a point to take the youngster under his wing.

“Last fall he was starting then kind of faded away from the offense,” Saunders said. “It hurt him a little bit because he was expecting a lot of things. He was taking himself out of the picture because he had high expectations and was feeling bad about himself. This spring me and him sat down and talked a lot, I kind of took him under my wing like a younger brother. I treat him like my younger brother because I want him to be the best out there.”

Heading into his second season in Norman, Metoyer is battling fellow sophomore Durron Neal, senior Lacoltan Bester and others to earn a starting spot at outside receiver for the Sooners. Metoyer's talent is readily apparent and his consistency is slowly starting to come to the forefront.

“I think it’s coming together for Trey,” Norvell said. “I think he understands our offense, I think he has been around our players and quarterbacks. He is getting to the point where he becomes more confident in what he’s doing.”

If Metoyer progresses to the point that Norvell considers him among the Sooners’ most consistent receivers and puts him in the starting lineup, Big 12 defenses might have to take notice.

“He’s going to be one of the best receivers, probably, to ever come through OU,” cornerback Cortez Johnson said. “Trey Metoyer has the best hands on the team, that’s why every play [during practice] I’m trying to go against him, trying to get myself better and get myself reps against an opponent like that.”

As the projected starter at cornerback opposite Aaron Colvin for the Sooners, Johnson should know what Metoyer brings to the table. He has had several one-on-one battles with Metoyer during the spring, summer and early in preseason camp, resulting in his high praise for the Whitehouse, Texas, native.

“He runs good routes, he knows how to get in your cushion, open you up,” Johnson said. “[He] has good footwork, great hands, he’s just a great player. He has a lot to work on still, but he’s going to be pretty good.”

Ten Big 12 receivers on Biletnikoff list

July, 16, 2013
Ten Big 12 players made the watch list for the Fred Biletnikoff Award, given annually to college football's top receiver.
It's a little surprising to see Metoyer on that list after he caught just 17 passes for 148 yards and a score last year, especially when fellow freshman Sterling Shepard hauled in 45 balls for 621 yards for the Sooners. I don't really get how that happened. I probably would have included Kansas State's Tyler Lockett, too, who caught 44 balls for 692 yards a year ago.

Besides that, a good list from the Big 12's perspective.

Justin Blackmon won the award in 2010 and 2011, and Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree's wins in 2007 and 2008 have given the Big 12 four of the past six Biletnikoff Awards. West Virginia's Stedman Bailey and Baylor's Terrance Williams were both finalists last season, losing to USC's Marqise Lee. The league's reputation for receivers precedes itself, but this year most of the receivers across the Big 12 have a lot to prove.

Tight ends key to Sooners in 2013

May, 13, 2013
NORMAN, Okla. -- In Bob Stoops’ first season in 1999, Oklahoma spread everyone out and threw it around.

In 2004, the Sooners put Jason White under center and handed off to Adrian Peterson.

As Stoops pointed out last week, the Sooners have often "played to their personnel." That includes last season, when, after it became abundantly clear the Sooners’ fourth-best receiver was better than any tight end, OU went almost exclusively with four-wide formations.

[+] EnlargeTaylor McNamara
J.P. Wilson/Icon SMIThe Sooners need redshirt freshman Taylor McNamara to become a passing-game threat in 2013.
“We had some young [tight ends], a new guy from junior college,” Stoops said. “We weren’t the same with them on the field. Our best grouping was with wide receivers, which was quite obvious to anybody who watched us.”

In recent weeks, the Sooners have taken criticism from ESPN analysts Trent Dilfer and Jon Gruden for not using tight ends. They say it put too much pressure on quarterback Landry Jones to throw the ball downfield.

In several OU victories, Jones’ arm was good enough to overcome the limitations of not having a tight end checking off a route underneath the coverage, streaking down the middle of the field or helping to block in the run game.

But in the Sooners’ three 2012 losses, not having a tight end came back to haunt them, as OU was unable to maintain balance with the run or attack the Kansas State, Notre Dame and Texas A&M defenses off play-action.

The OU coaching staff recognized this liability and tried to lure another junior-college tight end to Norman before signing day. But after losing out on Beau Sandland and Emmanuel Bibbs -- the two juco tight ends they thought could provide an immediate impact -- the Sooners were forced to go with what they have.

Only this time, they won’t have Jones’ arm to fall back on. To be successful in 2013, the Sooners will have to run the ball with better efficiency. And they’ll have to also be lethal with play-action. Which means Sam Grant, Taylor McNamara and Brannon Green, whom the Sooners deemed weren’t ready last year, had better be ready to play this time around.

“I feel much better about it,” Stoops said. “The two freshmen [Grant and McNamara] have come along, are stronger blockers, have a stronger presence about what they’re trying to do. Same thing with Brannon Green, more experience in what we want him to do.

“I believe they’ll have more opportunities.”

Despite losing Kenny Stills and Justin Brown, the Sooners figure to be strong at wideout again. Jalen Saunders and Sterling Shepard should be prolific, and Trey Metoyer, Durron Neal, Dannon Cavil, Jaz Reynolds and others have big-play ability. But as OU transitions to an offense more reliant on the ground game -- as well as the running ability of its inexperienced quarterbacks -- tight end play will be paramount.

It’s no coincidence that when the Sooners have run the ball best, they’ve had stellar tight end play.

Quentin Griffin had Trent Smith.

Chris Brown and DeMarco Murray had Brody Eldridge and Jermaine Gresham.

Even Adrian Peterson had James "Bubba" Moses and Joe Jon Finley.

Stoops says he likes what he saw from the tight ends in the spring. After redshirting last year, Grant showed promise as a blocking specialist. McNamara has put on weight and is finally healthy after undergoing shoulder surgery last season, then tweaking a hamstring after being cleared for spring ball. Green has come along, too.

They’ll never be confused with the 2007 tight end grouping of Gresham, Eldridge and Finley. But if they can be just solid enough to be used, that might be adequate.

The Sooners are always going to play to their personnel. But OU has always been better when the tight ends are included.

Big 12 spring game review: Oklahoma

April, 15, 2013
For most of these games, we'll do a "What happened" section in addition to "What we learned," but we had SoonerNation on the case, so you can see more about the raw facts here and here.

A few of my observations on what we learned:
  • Unseating Blake Bell looks mighty, mighty difficult. Given how he'd looked as a passer in limited opportunities thus far in his career, there was plenty of reason to doubt how well Bell would handle running the Sooners' entire offense. Still, when you consider how he played and threw in high school, there was equal reason to believe he'd handle it fine. Belief in the latter looks to have paid off. Oklahoma will want his completion percentage to be a lot higher, but he made a whole bunch of plays down the field and over the middle that show plenty of potential. He completed 14 of 23 passes for 213 yards and two touchdowns, but most importantly, he didn't have a turnover. If that means a lower completion percentage, Oklahoma's staff will take that trade all day. On Saturday, though, Bell was what he needed to be: A step ahead of competition Trevor Knight and Kendal Thompson. There's no guarantees yet, and Bob Stoops has never placed a high premium on naming a starter in the spring as opposed to fall camp, but by now, I'd be shocked if Bell doesn't mature into "The Guy" for the Sooners over the summer and leave little doubt in fall camp about whose team it is.
  • The defense has a few interesting new faces. Trey Franks was suspended all last season, but turned a few heads by making seven tackles and breaking up two passes. The former receiver looked solid on the other side of the ball. We'll see how he fits into the rotation at safety for the Sooners. That's a huge position of need, and you'd have a hard time convincing me he couldn't challenge for a starting job in fall camp. D.J. Ward, a hyped, home-grown defensive end recruit, finally got on the field after being cleared by the NCAA, but he didn't record any stats and Saturday was his first practice in pads.
  • Bob Stoops clarified his pay-for-play comments. I wrote about Stoops' controversial comments here, but he added another clarification after Saturday's game, according to The Oklahoman. "I was just asked about paying players to play football, and of course I went off on what they already are paid,” Stoops said. “And I probably was a little -- I didn't mean to be insensitive when I talked about when the dining halls close and we've all been in that situation. We've all been a little bit hungry on a Sunday here and there. … That doesn't mean I'm not concerned about my players and want to best for them." I don't disagree with Stoops there, but what he said doesn't change my point about the possible repercussion on the recruiting trail. It won't be hard for folks to make the case that other coaches are more sympathetic to their players' current situation, whether it's true or not. I agree with Stoops in that introducing how much he makes is irrelevant to the discussion (he argued that in Saturday's clarification), but I'm betting if Stoops had it to do over again, he'd take a pass at the question. No one's asking Stoops to change his answer or his belief. He's entitled to his opinion, and suggesting it's not a valid opinion is silly, but I fail to see the positives for him in speaking out on the issue.
  • Start up the Trey Metoyer hype train one more time. Every now and then, guys make big noise during the spring and don't show up in the fall. That happened to Metoyer last season, but he sounds like a more mature player this spring, and showed up in a big way again on Saturday. Six catches for 122 yards will definitely get people fired up for him to break out in the fall. He's got everything you could ask for physically, he's just got to turn it into production. I sense we'll be hearing "Bell to Metoyer" quite a few times this fall, but only a few less times than "Bell to Shepard." Sterling Shepard had a quiet day with just two grabs for 22 yards, but I loved what he showed last season. The Ryan Broyles comparisons are premature, but he's definitely got flashes of the FBS all-time leader in receptions.

Bell seizes momentum in OU QB derby

April, 13, 2013

NORMAN, Okla. -- With nothing open from his initial reads, quarterback Blake Bell abandoned the pocket. But instead of attempting to truck his way into the end zone, the artist formerly known as the "Belldozer" rolled right.

Near the sidelines, he waited, and waited. And then when he couldn’t wait any longer, Bell stuck a pass into the chest of receiver Durron Neal for a three-yard touchdown.

[+] EnlargeBlake Bell
AP Photo/Sue OgrockiJunior Blake Bell, considered the front-runner to start for the Sooners before the spring, had the best day of all the QBs in OU's spring game.
Bell said after Oklahoma’s Red-White spring game that he wanted to show he could "sling it around a little bit, too."

And sling it he did, demonstrating that the power running that made him a fan-favorite the past two seasons is just one facet of his arsenal.

Bell completed 14 of 23 passes for 213 yards and two touchdowns -- with no turnovers -- Saturday. He also showed the most poise and precision among the quarterbacks to seize momentum in the QB competition heading into the summer.

"I missed a couple throws," Bell said, "But overall, I thought I made some good plays, and was pretty accurate with the ball."

Bell displayed that accuracy from the opening possession, quickly moving the offense down the field with three completions to Jalen Saunders. The drive ultimately ended in a touchdown, when wide receiver Lacoltan Bester scooped up a Damien Williams fumble and raced 35 yards for the score.

(Read full post)

Big 12: Reviewing 2012's spring stars

March, 7, 2013
Spring football gives young players and unknowns an opportunity to prove themselves. Many times, success in the spring translates to success into the fall. Other times, however, it does not. Last year's Big 12 spring standouts offered a combination of both. Below are the 2012 spring stars from each Big 12 team:

Baylor: RB Lache Seastrunk

What he did in the spring: The Oregon transfer dazzled with 135 rushing yards on just seven carries, which included a 75-yard scoring scamper.

What he did in the fall: Seastrunk eventually supplanted Jarred Salubi as the starter, then rushed for more than 90 yards in each of Baylor’s final six games to earn Big 12 offensive newcomer of the year honors.

Where he stands now: Seastrunk is a surefire preseason All-Big 12 pick, and with QB Nick Florence and WR Terrance Williams gone, the Bears will be leaning on him to carry the offense.

Oklahoma: WR Trey Metoyer

What he did in the spring: Metoyer enrolled in the winter after spending the fall at Hargrave Military Academy, and outperformed every other OU skill player. He led all receivers in OU’s spring game with six catches for 72 yards.

What he did in the fall: Metoyer opened the season as a starter, but struggled developing chemistry with QB Landry Jones. He eventually lost his starting job, then fell out of the rotation altogether.

Where he stands now: A new year and a new QB should do wonders for Metoyer, who has all the tools to become a dominant outside receiver. With 2012 starters Kenny Stills and Justin Brown gone, Metoyer will have an opportunity to win back a starting job.

Oklahoma State: WR Charlie Moore

What he did in the spring: After catching just seven passes his entire career, Moore exploded in the Orange-White game with nine receptions, 243 receiving yards and three touchdowns.

What he did in the fall: He won a starting job and finished second on the offense with 35 catches and six touchdowns, and was a consistent performer as the Cowboys shuffled quarterbacks in and out of the lineup.

Where he stands now: The Cowboys figure to have one of their deepest receiving corps in years, and Moore is one reason why.

TCU: CB Jason Verrett

What he did in the spring: During TCU's tumultuous off-season, Verrett continued his momentum from 2011 and turned in a dominant spring.

What he did in the fall: No Big 12 corner was better last season than Verrett, who earned first-team All-Big 12 recognition in TCU’s first season in the league.

Where he stands now: Verrett has been dealing with an injury he suffered in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, but is expected to take part in spring ball soon. Verrett is one of the top returning corners in college football and should vie for All-American honors.

Texas: LB Steve Edmond

What he did in the spring: The 260 pound-plus linebacker was a menace on the front seven all spring.

What he did in the fall: Edmond was one of the bright spots on a Texas defense that overall was porous against the run. He was first among linebackers with 103 tackles, and he forced two fumbles, including a key one in the second half of Texas’ 56-50 win over Baylor.

Where he stands now: Edmond is having to fend off Dalton Santos, who is getting some of Edmond’s first-team reps at middle linebacker this spring.

Texas Tech: LB Will Smith

What he did in the spring: The junior-college transfer led all defenders in the spring game with six tackles and an interception, the only turnover of the scrimmage.

What he did in the fall: Smith locked down a starting job at linebacker and was a key part of Tech’s 6-1 start to the season. He finished fourth on the team with 55 tackles.

Where he stands now: Smith figures to anchor the Tech defense for first-year coach Kliff Kingsbury.

Breaking down spring camp: Oklahoma

March, 6, 2013
The Oklahoma Sooners open spring practice this weekend with change in the air. Let's take a closer look.

Schedule: The Sooners begin spring ball Saturday, the first of 15 NCAA-allowed practices. OU will hold its spring game April 13.

What's new: What’s not? Bob Stoops brought in three new assistants, seven defensive starters are gone, and for the first time in six years, the Sooners have a quarterback competition. After back-to-back three-loss seasons, this is lining up to be the most important -- and most intriguing -- spring of the Stoops era in Norman.

All eyes on: The quarterback derby, which will be the dominant storyline of the spring. Junior Blake Bell, sophomore Kendal Thompson and freshman Trevor Knight are all vying to replace four-year starter Landry Jones. Bell is the favorite because of his age and experience in the “Belldozer” package, but insiders around the program believe Knight is capable of unseating him. Whatever happens in the spring, don’t expect a starter to be named. Stoops waited until the fall to declare Sam Bradford his starter in 2007, and figures to do the same here.

New faces: The Sooners welcome four mid-semester enrollees, and all four have a chance to make immediate impacts. Toronto native Josiah St. John, the No. 1 junior-college offensive tackle in the country, figures to be no worse than a key backup. Wide receiver Dannon Cavil, who grew up a Texas fan, has great size and should vie for a rotation spot at outside receiver. Defensively, Ahmad Thomas will be given every opportunity to start at safety, and defensive end D.J. Ward, the top player coming out of the state of Oklahoma, could boost a defensive front that ranked 108th nationally in tackles for loss last season.

Question marks: With only 11 starters back, the Sooners have plenty. On top of the quarterback battle, OU must overhaul virtually the entire defense, with All-Big 12 cornerback Aaron Colvin the only returning impact defender. Defensive tackle and back safety are especially tenuous. The Sooners have only three defensive tackles on the roster to practice with at the moment, and no one other than Colvin has a down of experience at back safety. Mike Stoops will have to be creative just to get through the spring, until reinforcements arrive over the summer.

Don’t forget about: Wide receiver Trey Metoyer, who was the star of last spring as a true freshman. Metoyer, however, failed to carry that momentum into the fall, lost his starting job and eventually fell out of the rotation. A new year and new quarterback should re-energize Metoyer, who has all the tools to become a dominant outside receiver.

On the mend: Guards Tyler Evans and Nila Kasitati, who are both coming off season-ending knee injuries. Both, however, are hoping to be at least limited participants in the spring, which would spur them into summer workouts.

Big shoes to fill: Oklahoma Sooners

February, 28, 2013
We're moving on with a new series today looking at the players across the Big 12 who have to replace program legends. We might as well call this the Nick Florence Memorial team, but let's talk Oklahoma Sooners.

Big shoes to fill: Oklahoma's receivers

If you want to know more about Oklahoma's quarterback spot and the big shoes to fill there, you can do that with the guys at SoonerNation. There's no reason to rehash the race to replace Landry Jones, but we'll look at the guys who Jones' heir will be throwing to today. Kenny Stills left early and Justin Brown had a solid performance in his one year as a Sooner after transferring from Penn State. Together, Oklahoma's got to replace their top two receivers who accounted for 155 catches, 1,843 yards and 16 touchdowns. That's no small task, but the Sooners have a lot of guys in place to make it happen.

Fresno State transfer Jalen Saunders is at the top of that list after showing big potential in the second half of the season last year once he was ruled eligible. He had three games with at least nine catches (including 15 for 181 yards against Notre Dame) and topped 100 yards receiving in the Sooners' last three regular season games. He's well-suited to be the unit's best player next season, but look out for young guys, too. Oklahoma brought in an unbelievable haul of receivers in the 2012 recruiting class, and it may start paying off now. Sterling Shepard had a strong 2012 season with 45 grabs for 621 yards, but Durron Neal and Trey Metoyer should embrace bigger roles this season with a new quarterback.

The Sooners have had a strong receiving tradition for quite some time now with guys like Stills, Ryan Broyles, Juaquin Iglesias, Manny Johnson and Malcolm Kelly, and they look well suited to continue that tradition in 2013.

More big shoes to fill:

Grading preseason fearless predictions for Big 12

December, 18, 2012
Every season, we take 10 big swings before the games begin. Sometimes we connect. Sometimes we miss. Either way, we're out on a limb. Sometimes is snaps. Sometimes it doesn't. Let's take a look at how this year's fearless predictions looked.

Want to check how I've done in the past? Here are my grades for the past two seasons: 1. Landry Jones' interception total will be in the single digits. Jones had 41 career interceptions in three seasons and had never thrown fewer than 12 in a season. He got off to a good start, but threw six interceptions in his final five games to reach 10 before the bowl game. Result: Miss, but just barely.


How would you grade David Ubben's fearless predictions?


Discuss (Total votes: 3,052)

2. Wes Lunt will throw for 4,000 yards. Curse the luck. Lunt suffered injuries to his head and knee and was in and out of the lineup all season. He threw for 1,096 yards, which was third-most on his team. Crazy. The most concerning stat: He had seven interceptions to just six scores. Result: Thanks a lot, injuries.

3. David Ash will start 13 games for Texas. He rotated with Case McCoy last season, and got benched twice this season, but the second benching was due to a rib injury that's left his status for the bowl game up in the air a bit, too. Either way, this prediction crashed and burned in the final game of the season when McCoy made his first start against K-State with Ash's ribs banged up. Do I deserve partial credit for Ash not getting the hook for a complete game? Result: Close, but not close enough.

4. Trey Metoyer will lead Oklahoma in receiving. Probably the biggest whiff of the bunch here. Landry Jones locked in on transfers Justin Brown and Jalen Saunders, but returning star Kenny Stills led the team with 897 yards. I bought into the Metoyer hype, but he finished seventh on the team, behind even running back Damien Williams. Result: Not even close, bro.

5. Texas Tech will play Baylor for a chance to play in a bowl game. My intention with this prediction is that Texas Tech and Baylor would meet and both would have five wins. Baylor held up their end of the deal, but Texas Tech already had seven wins before the Baylor loss. Result: Half right, I suppose. I picked Baylor to win it, too. They did.

6. West Virginia will lose to an unranked team. I bought into the WVU hype to some extent, but I figured the Mountaineers would lose a game no one expected. That's been an unfortunate hallmark of the program for some time, now. WVU proved me right again and again, losing three games to ranked teams, including their first loss of the season as the nation's No. 5 team. Result: On the money ... and then some.

7. TCU will reach the top five and then fall out of the top 20. I saw a big start for TCU, picking the Frogs to start 7-0 before losing four of their last five games. TCU fell out of the top 20 pretty quick, but never rose higher than No. 13 in the polls. Result: Almost doesn't count.

8. Kansas will win a conference game, and Baylor will qualify for a third consecutive bowl game. Oh, KU. My faith was misplaced. This is a pretty historic losing streak that now reaches 21 games in Big 12 play. I didn't really have much doubt that Baylor would reach a bowl early in the season, but that 0-4 start in Big 12 play made me sweat it out. Result: Half right, but KU nearly made me completely right against Texas and Texas Tech.

9. Iowa State's Jake Knott and A.J. Klein will rank first and second in the Big 12 in total tackles. Knott suffered a shoulder injury late in the season, firing a pretty serious torpedo at this prediction. Klein was fifth in the league with 98 tackles. His production slowed considerably after moving positions following Knott's injury. Result: You're no fun, injuries.

10. Kansas State will finish in the Big 12's top two in rushing offense. This looked like a slam dunk until Collin Klein's head injury and some awful games against TCU and Baylor. The Wildcats slipped all the way to fourth in the Big 12, behind even 1-11 KU. Result: Makin' me look bad, y'all.

Not exactly a banner year for my bold predictions. The only possible takeaway from this? I don't know anything about anything. Vote in our poll and grade my predictions.

Checking up on preseason bold predictions

October, 29, 2012
Before the season, I took a swing at 10 fearless predictions. The results have been, uh, mixed. Or something.

Let's take a look back and offer a few grades:

1. Landry Jones' interception total will be in the single digits. Jones is on track for this one, throwing just four interceptions through seven games this season. He tossed a costly one on Saturday night, though the bobbled ball that Manti Te'o dove to intercept wasn't necessarily Jones' fault. Jones has never thrown fewer than 12 interceptions in a season, but he's doing it this year. Grade: A

2. Wes Lunt will throw for 4,000 yards. One ugly knee injury has slowed Lunt's progress, and this late in the season, you can probably rule out Lunt reaching 4,000 yards. OSU's offense as a whole is on track to do it, though. They've got 2,430 yards through seven games. J.W. Walsh is a freshman, too. Do I get points for this? I'm tempted to throw this one out. You won't see a grade from me on this one.

3. David Ash will start 13 games for Texas. This one looked like a lock two weeks ago, and Ash had shown the growth I thought he would. Now, though? We'll see this week. Texas says it hasn't decided on its starting quarterback, but Ash was benched last week against Kansas and Case McCoy led a game-winning drive. Grade: Incomplete

4. Trey Metoyer will lead Oklahoma in receiving. Ouuuuuuch. The hyped freshman is seventh on the team with 13 catches for 108 yards and a touchdown and hardly played last week against Notre Dame. Grade: F-

5. Texas Tech will play Baylor for a chance to play in a bowl game. Well, half of this might be true. Texas Tech has been one of the Big 12's surprise teams and already qualified for a bowl. Baylor, though, will need a late charge to do it, sitting at 3-4. Grade: D

6. West Virginia will lose to an unranked team. There's still plenty of football to play, but West Virginia has already made this particular prediction come true. Texas Tech was unranked when the Red Raiders rolled over WVU by 35 points in Lubbock this year. Another year, another head-scratching loss for WVU. Grade: A

7. TCU will reach the top five and then fall out of the top 20. I picked the Frogs to reach 7-0 this season before losing four of their final five games to fall to 8-4. That final record looks possible, but injuries and Casey Pachall's sudden exit left the Frogs trying to keep their heads above water before the schedule really even got super rocky. The Frogs are currently unranked, but peaked at No. 15 in the polls. Grade: C-

8. Kansas will win a conference game, and Baylor will qualify for a third consecutive bowl game. KU almost made this bad boy come true on Saturday, but some late-game heroics kept Texas from suffering the embarrassing loss. Still, I think it's coming. Baylor is 3-4 and needs to play much better ball to reach a bowl. I removed the Bears from my bowl projections this week for the first time all season. Grade: Incomplete

9. Iowa State's Jake Knott and A.J. Klein will rank first and second in the Big 12 in total tackles. Knott currently leads the Big 12 with 79 stops, but there are all kinds of rumors regarding his health. He wore a shoulder brace this week, but we'll see if he can stay healthy. Klein is tied for fourth in the league with 67 tackles, but if he had four more, he'd be No. 2. Grade: B+

10. Kansas State will finish in the Big 12's top two in rushing offense. I was definitely one of the K-State believers before the season, but even I didn't think they had a shot to be undefeated at this point in the year. Nonetheless, I believed in their ability to be balanced and replace three offensive linemen from last year's team. Now, they're averaging 230 yards a game on the ground, 32 more yards a game than the Big 12's No. 3 team. Grade: A

Instant analysis: OU 69, Florida A&M 13

September, 8, 2012
NORMAN, Okla. – After a shaky opener in El Paso, Texas, the Sooners bounced back Saturday to trounce Florida A&M 69-13.

It was over when: QB Landry Jones hooked up with true freshman wideout Trey Metoyer in the corner of the end zone for an 18-yard touchdown. The score put the Sooners up 35-10 with 36 seconds left before halftime.

Game ball goes to: Justin Brown, who was a playmaker as both a receiver and a punt returner during the first half. Two of his punt returns -- 43 and 62 yards -- led to OU touchdowns. A leaping 46-yard grab on third-and-10 set up another OU score.

Stat of the game: Junior-college transfer Damien Williams scored touchdowns on four of his first eight carries. He punched the ball into the end zone on his first two runs. Then on his first carry of the second half, Williams dashed 89 yards down the sideline for another score. In two games, Williams already has five touchdowns.

Unsung hero of the game: Wide receiver Kenny Stills had another big night, hauling in 10 catches for 120 receiving yards and a touchdown. Stills also finished with more than 100 receiving yards in OU’s first game and has quickly asserted himself as Jones’ No. 1 receiver.

What OU learned: That Williams is the team’s best running back, at least for the moment. Starter Dominique Whaley, who’s coming back from a broken ankle, sputtered before getting benched for fumbling for the second time in as many games. Williams, meanwhile, rushed for 156 yards on 10 carries and the four touchdowns.

What it means: Saturday’s performance wasn’t perfect. But the Sooners should feel reasonably confident going into their next game, a Big 12 showdown in two weeks with Kansas State. The Wildcats rolled past Miami 52-13 Saturday, but have not won in Norman since 1997.

Oklahoma trying to build from rough start

September, 5, 2012
Big 12 realignment forced Oklahoma to cancel its nonconference date against TCU -- only because the Frogs would host Oklahoma in December as Big 12 members.

The Sooners replaced that game with a seemingly harmless -- albeit awkward -- game on the road at UTEP that was postponed until a 10:30 p.m. ET kick because of heat.

Oklahoma's trip to the desert wasn't far from disaster. Even with the 24-7 win over the Miners, Oklahoma grabbed a spot as one of the nation's most disappointing teams on the season's opening weekend.

[+] EnlargeOklahoma's Bob Stoops
Jim Cowsert/US PRESSWIRE"Sometimes you're just not as sharp as you need to be," said Bob Stoops of Oklahoma's opener.
"Some of it is experience and time on the field. Some of these guys, that’s the first time (freshman receiver) Trey Metoyer's been in a live game," coach Bob Stoops said. "Guys will look and learn the more they play. That’s part of it, and just do a better job all of us, whether it’s on the field coaching or paying attention on the field."

Metoyer was a standout since enrolling in the spring, but was held without a catch in the first half. He finished with four catches for 21 yards.

The Sooners tied the Miners, 5-7 a year ago, 7-7 at halftime and carried just a 10-7 lead into the game's final quarter.

"Everytime someone has a close game, everybody says, 'Oh, they overlooked them.' No, that’s not the case. That’s not the case at all," Stoops said. "Sometimes you’re just not as sharp as you need to be. And maybe sometime the other team's a little better than most people think they are."

Quarterback Landry Jones completed just 21 of 36 passes for 222 yards and went without a turnover, but his completion percentage (58.3) was worse than every Big 12 quarterback but Kansas' Dayne Crist on the season's first weekend. Jones' mobility looked much improved, but he needed that mobility more often than most figured against a defensive line that should have been overmatched by the Sooners' size.

"We (ran) the ball overall over 5 yards a carry, so that’s good, but then there’s other instances where we’re just not as efficient as we ought to be," Stoops said. "A few times the protection breaks down and a guy is open, other times the protection’s there and we don’t have somebody open, so we just have to bring it together a little more."

Oklahoma's got plenty to work on after the close call against the Miners, but despite the offensive struggles -- Oklahoma ranked fifth nationally in total offense, UTEP ranked 104th nationally in total defense -- Stoops saw the bright side of the struggles, too.

"Everybody was positive and we came out in the second half and played better. I think there’s some things we can take from it. We’ve got a lot to correct here this week," Stoops said, adding his team left El Paso completely healthy, too. "Maybe you wouldn’t have seen that against somebody down in a different division or (FCS) and maybe that doesn’t show up. We understand you progress through the year and that’s what we’re after."