OU's overlooked stars of spring football

April, 16, 2012
4/16/12
11:05
AM ET
The Sooners had several stars emerge this spring who garnered plenty of attention in the past few weeks, led by receiver Trey Metoyer and defensive tackle Jordan Phillips.

But Saturday’s spring game proved that Metoyer and Phillips weren’t the only Sooners who took advantage of the opportunity to impress the coaching staff. Here’s a look at five players who had solid spring performances, yet went largely overlooked:

Linebacker Joseph Ibiloye: The senior quietly had a solid spring at the linebacker spot, running with the No. 1 defense to start the spring game. Ibiloye had three tackles in the game despite leaving early with a shoulder injury.

He brings good size and speed to the table and will push Corey Nelson for the starting linebacker spot. Don’t be surprised to see Nelson get plenty of playing time but Ibiloye’s solid spring should give new linebackers coach Tim Kish some options at linebacker.

[+] EnlargeTrey Franks
AP Photo/Sue OgrockiJunior receiver Trey Franks quietly had a strong spring for the Sooners.
Defensive tackle Damon Williams: With all of the attention on Phillips this spring, few fans talked about Williams, another redshirt freshman interior defensive lineman. He quietly moved up the depth chart and saw plenty of action with the No. 1 defense in the spring game, recording one tackle.

Injuries to Stacy McGee and Casey Walker have provided an opportunity for OU’s young defensive tackles, and Williams appears to have seized the opportunity.

Receiver Trey Franks: Metoyer, Kenny Stills and Jaz Reynolds got all of the attention during the spring, but Franks was productive and took his game to another level heading into his junior season.

His quickness and speed could create nightmares in the slot for Big 12 defenses, particularly with Metoyer, Stills and Reynolds on the outside. The key for Franks is to continue to progress this summer without taking a step backward on or off the field.

Offensive tackle Tyrus Thompson: As the lone returning tackle with significant game experience, it seemed to be a forgone conclusion to pencil in Lane Johnson’s name into the starting spot at left tackle. Thompson had other ideas, and with a very strong spring he opened the spring game with the No. 1 offense.

“Tyrus Thompson has really come along,” Sooners tackles coach Bruce Kittle said. “It’s pretty even right now. We’re really pleased with him and feel like he’s game-ready. We’re in really good shape over there.”

Thompson is a redshirt sophomore who has the versatility to play either tackle spot in the Sooners' offensive attack.

Center/Guard Nila Kasitati: Kasitati might play the deepest position on the entire roster, particularly when Ben Habern returns from his neck injury.

But don’t be surprised if Kasitati forces the coaching staff to find a way to get him some time on the field. He’s talented, athletic, versatile and aggressive. The Sooners rotate their linemen so Kasitati could earn time in the rotation thanks to his ability to play multiple positions.

Brandon Chatmon | email

Oklahoma/Big 12 reporter

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