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SoonerTimes Home > SoonerTimes > OU Sports > Top storylines, key players, position battles to watch heading into spring drills


Top storylines, key players, position battles to watch heading into spring drills
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47Straight
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 Posted: Wed Mar 6th, 2019 02:43 pm

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Top storylines, key players, position battles to watch heading into spring drills
By Eric Bailey Tulsa World

NORMAN — Oklahoma begins spring football practice Thursday with a long-term goal of advancing to the College Football Playoff for the third consecutive season.

There are plenty of short-term goals, including getting former Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts acquainted to the OU offense and getting players to learn quickly under new defensive coordinator Alex Grinch.

Coach Lincoln Riley will lead spring drills for only the second time as he prepares to guide the Sooners through his third season as head coach.

Oklahoma will have 15 practices this spring, culminating with the annual spring game on April 13.

Storylines Time for Hurts
No one has ever replaced consecutive Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks and if Alabama transfer Jalen Hurts earns the starting job, as expected, he will be the first player to be in that position. For many quarterbacks, that would be a tough task. But expect the veteran — who has been building rapport with his teammates off the field — to extend that chemistry on the field under the watchful eye of Riley. A natural leader, look for Hurts to command with authority this spring.

Learning under Grinch
During his introductory news conference, new defensive coordinator Alex Grinch said more than once that he does not want to waste one day of spring practice. It’s important for the players to have completed their homework on Grinch’s defensive scheme so they can hit the ground running. It’s not only Grinch with whom the players will have to adjust. They also will get to know the coaching styles of Roy Manning (cornerbacks) and Brian Odom (inside linebackers).

Welcome to college football
There are eight early enrollees on campus who will take part in spring drills. All eyes will be on five-star wide receivers Trejan Bridges, Jadon Haselwood and Theo Wease. How will they attack their first spring drills? There’s a reason the trio arrived early, so look for them to use these weeks for growth heading into the summer and fall camp.

Two more offensive enrollees to keep an eye on are tight end Austin Stogner and junior college running back LaRon Stokes.

All of these players will learn Riley’s system alongside Hurts.

Players to watch

Caleb Kelly
The former five-star linebacker recruit will get a new defensive coordinator in his final season. But what position will the senior play? Kelly began last season at inside linebacker but shifted back to his original outside spot at midseason. OU coaches will need to find a way to get him on the field.

Brendan Radley-Hiles
“Bookie” had an up-and-down freshman campaign after being shifted to safety from his natural cornerback position. It’ll be interesting to see how Grinch (DC, safeties coach) and Manning (cornerbacks) choose to use him. He didn’t play much during the 2018 postseason, but his maturity stuck out during that time.

Creed Humphrey
The nation’s top offensive line only has one returning starter — Humphrey. The center automatically becomes the leader of the line after the Sooners lost four players who participated in the NFL combine. Humphrey, a redshirt sophomore, enters his third season under line coach Bill Bedenbaugh. Look for more growth this spring.

Position battles


Offensive tackle
The Sooners will have to replace starters Cody Ford and Bobby Evans, who left school early for the NFL. Redshirt sophomore Adrian Ealy, who played in five games last season, is expected to get an early look, as will redshirt freshman Brey Walker.

Middle linebacker
Kenneth Murray has been a two-year starter at the position, but it is possible coaches could look at talented sophomore DaShaun White at the position, which could give them the opportunity to move the veteran Murray to weak-side linebacker. It’s something to watch.

Punter/place-kicker
This is a spot Oklahoma has been able to take for granted the past four seasons. Now with Austin Seibert — who handled both spots — gone, who is next in line? Reeves Mundschau will be the one to watch at punter, while Gabe Brkic and Calum Sutherland will attempt to replace Seibert at place-kicker.

Key spring dates
Thursday: First practice

March 13: Pro day

April 13: Spring game

https://www.tulsaworld.com/sports/college/ou/ou-football-top-storylines-key-players-position-battles-to-watch/article_c5aec873-5c05-5bac-9fc2-c9c683512171.html

Walt
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 Posted: Wed Mar 6th, 2019 04:16 pm

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LaRon Stokes isn't an RB. He is a DE. Bailey needs to get his press pass cancelled.

Sooner Schemer
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 Posted: Wed Mar 6th, 2019 04:24 pm

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Walt wrote:
LaRon Stokes isn't an RB. He is a DE. Bailey needs to get his press pass cancelled.

I miss the Tulsa Tribune.

SoonerMike
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 Posted: Wed Mar 6th, 2019 07:35 pm

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My hope is that with a new DC and defensive scheme, that some of the highly recruited but not used much defensive players start to shine in a new system. Maybe like what the Stoops staff did with Blank's players in 99

SoonerinDallas
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 Posted: Wed Mar 6th, 2019 08:53 pm

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SoonerMike wrote:
Maybe like what the Stoops staff did with Blank's players in 99

They did a masterful job in those first two years of plugging guys in to where they could excel. I remember Stoops said the first time he saw Roy Williams and said he looked like a pear. Two years later, he is ripped and an All American and first round pick after playing a hybrid position.

SoonerRick46
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 Posted: Thu Mar 7th, 2019 07:38 pm

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This could be one of the most interesting springs in quite a while. I'll be focused on the D.

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 Posted: Thu Mar 14th, 2019 07:08 pm

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SoonerRick46 wrote:
This could be one of the most interesting springs in quite a while. I'll be focused on the D.

What are you hearing?

SoonerRick46
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 Posted: Sat Mar 16th, 2019 01:52 pm

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oupunk wrote:
SoonerRick46 wrote:
This could be one of the most interesting springs in quite a while. I'll be focused on the D.

What are you hearing?


To early to tell for sure. There is going to be a lot of coach speak early. I will say it appears that the D is buying in and practices are very spirited.


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