Chatmon's mailbag: Special teams better 

August, 31, 2012
New season, new mailbag.

As Oklahoma opens its 2012 campaign against UTEP on Saturday, SoonerNation debuts its combined mailbag which is your opportunity to get your team and recruiting questions answered each week. If you have any questions email Brandon Chatmon at So without further ado ...

[+] EnlargeDalton Rodriguez
Dean AtchisonTulsa Union's Dalton Rodriguez is playing solely on defense in high school.
Brian in Soonerland asks: Interesting to see that Dalton Rodriguez may not play any OT this year...Do we like him enough at DE to give him a shot there?

Brandon Chatmon: I wouldn’t lock Dalton Rodriguez (Tulsa, Okla./Union) into any position. As we’ve seen from Nathan Hughes, just recently, the Sooners won’t hesitate to move defensive linemen to the offensive line and vice versa. Getting talented athletes is the most important thing. Ultimately, the coaches will put him at the position they feel is best for his overall potential.

Rodriguez is a quality prospect at either position. Yet with his 6-foot-6, 255-pound frame, I think his upside is higher at offensive tackle and quality tackles are difficult to find. If I’m OU, I start him at tackle first, and if that doesn’t work out, then move him elsewhere.

Vargo in Kalamazoo, Mich., asks: Give me the name of one player outside of the usual characters that you could see having a huge impact on this team.

Brandon Chatmon: Frank Shannon. While Tom Wort is the heart of the defense at middle linebacker, Shannon could have a big impact as his backup. Linebackers coach Tim Kish has spoken highly of Shannon since he arrived at OU and the redshirt freshman is listed alongside Jayden Bird as Wort’s backup.

Expect Shannon to have an impact as a special teamer and in a backup role at linebacker. He has good instincts and athletic ability. I’m looking forward to seeing Shannon in action against UTEP. And you should be too.

Bryan in Norman, Okla., asks: In Bob's early years OU's Special Teams play was better than average. In recent years they've seemed below-average at best. Thoughts on the possible cause, and will we see an improvement this year?

Brandon Chatmon: The Sooners special teams struggles have been well-documented but I expect OU to have one of the strongest special teams units in the Bob Stoops-era this season.

Stoops, Players Want To Effect Change
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops sits down with Gene Wojciechowski to discuss his team's stand against racism.