- Brandon Chatmon, ESPN Staff Writer
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During the summer, ESPN.com is taking a closer look at each scholarship player on Oklahoma’s roster in our Crimson Countdown series. Each day, we analyze each player’s impact on the program since arriving on campus, his potential impact this fall, and his long-term projection. Starting with No. 1 Dominique Alexander, the series follows the roster numerically through No. 98 Chuka Ndulue.
No. 21 Keith Ford, running back, 5-foot-11, 206 pounds, sophomore
Impact thus far: Ford played his way out of a redshirt season as a true freshman in 2013, despite the Sooners returning three senior running backs with plenty of experience. He began making his mark on special teams then was emerging as a legit option at running back before fumble troubles landed him on the sideline.
Impact in 2014: Ford could be the most complete running back on the roster and appears to be gaining the trust of the coaching staff more and more as time progresses. Even with a talented group of running backs competing with him for time, it would be a surprise if Ford doesn’t make a significant contribution as a sophomore. His focused approach separates him from most of his teammates.
Long term upside: Ford looks poised to be a three-year contributor for the Sooners' offense. He averaged 5.8 yards per carry as a freshman and if he continues to improve he should be a valuable asset during his time on campus with the potential to become an all-conference performer.
Evaluation grade for Ford: A. Ford looks like a terrific evaluation by the Sooners. He has the right mentality, focus and skill set to be a superb player in crimson and cream. He was an elite recruit and he’s living up to that reputation thus far.
Development grade for Ford: A. Normally it would make sense to redshirt a true freshman who is behind three seniors. But, realistically, it was Ford’s fumble troubles that kept him off the field, not any of the returning veterans. His six carries against Texas are a sign he was poised to be a bigger part of the offense if he had held onto the football better as a freshman. And his contribution on special teams should not be overlooked.
Quotable: “Keith Ford is really a young, talented back. He’s physical, an incredible strong, powerful guy. He’s got speed, so every time he is out there he demonstrates it. He really ran hard and strong today. He’s a wrecking ball.”— coach Bob Stoops