Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Freshman invasion under way at Oklahoma
By David Ubben
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops released his latest depth chart on Monday, and likely inspired some double takes from some. Of the 44 spots on the offensive and defensive two-deep, seven are occupied by true freshmen, signees from the 2010 class who arrived on campus just this summer.
Two have established themselves as starters just weeks into their first fall camps.
Kenny Stills, a freshman receiver from San Diego, has earned a starting spot over senior Brandon Caleb at one of the three receiver positions. Elsewhere, Trey Millard, a freshman fullback who played tight end back home in Columbia, Mo., has taken the starting spot away from 241-pound redshirt freshman Marshall Musil, who rumbled for 92 yards in the spring game.
Stills is hardly a surprise. He was one of the spring standouts for a receiving corps that struggled outside of Ryan Broyles in 2009, and Stills finished with six catches for 84 yards in the spring game.
Elsewhere, two more freshmen cracked the two deep on offense.
Joe Powell will back up Ryan Broyles at the SL receiver position and Bronson Irwin, who joined Stills as an early enrollee this spring, will step in behind Tyler Evans at right guard.
Three showed up on defense.
Safety Tony Jefferson, a 5-foot-11, 198-pounder who is competing to start as the Sooners' situational hybrid safety/linebacker spot, is listed as a co-No. 2 behind Jonathan Nelson at strong safety.
Nelson's move from cornerback to safety -- a formality for some time -- freed up a spot for Aaron Colvin behind Demontre Hurst at one of Oklahoma's two cornerback spots.
And Corey Nelson -- the nation's No. 3 linebacker and No. 62 on the ESPNU 150 -- who Oklahoma ripped from Texas A&M shortly before signing day, is behind one of the conference's best linebackers in Travis Lewis, who told local reporters last week that Nelson would eventually become better than him.
That's significantly more freshmen than you'd usually find on Oklahoma's depth chart this time of year. If any of the backups are forced to play, Oklahoma would surely deal with the inconsistencies that come with relying on freshmen, but Stoops also has to be encouraged by the potential his young talent has shown early in camp.
Each freshman should see at least some spot duty in relief of the starters, and any experience should make the future look even brighter than it already does for Oklahoma, who also currently has the No. 3 recruiting class for 2011, based on current commitments.