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Friday, January 4, 2013
Recruiting faceoff: RB Keith Ford's impact

By Bob Przybylo and Brandon Chatmon

Each week SoonerNation recruiting writers Bob Przybylo and Brandon Chatmon will face off on one issue regarding Oklahoma recruiting.

Keith Ford
Oklahoma RB commit Keith Ford has been turning heads at the Under Armour practices and could make an immediate impact with the Sooners in 2013.
This week’s question: ESPN 150 running back commit Keith Ford (Cypress, Texas/Ranch) has been impressive this week at the Under Armour practices. When will he make an impact at OU?

Brandon Chatmon: I have a feeling Keith Ford will make a bigger impact as a freshman than most people believe. Sure the Sooners are stacked at running back, sure they don't need him to step in and play right away. But I don't think that will deter Ford, who will step on campus and start impressing immediately. He's not going to rise past everyone and become the starter, but I see him forcing his way onto the field and earning carries as a freshman.

Bob Przybylo: There is no question Ford, ranked No. 29 in the ESPN 150, is going to make an impact during his time at OU. But he’s going to have to leapfrog another talented ESPN 150 product to do so. It was a blessing for OU that the Sooners were able to redshirt running back Alex Ross. It would have been a tough pill to swallow had he had to burn it. His time to shine is in 2013.

Chatmon: Ross has been impressive, there's no doubt about it. Yet, I think his upright running style could present durability problems as the season progresses, opening the door for Ford to fill the void. I wouldn't be surprised to see Ross providing some explosiveness early in the season as Ford is still getting comfortable with the demands of playing the position under Cale Gundy. Then, as Ford starts to really emerge, the true freshman is able to start earning some carries in October. He'll be so impressive he's difficult to keep off the field, earning five or so touches per game as a complimentary back.

Przybylo: His upright style is a cause for concern. But when Ross is on, look out. His blend of speed and power is tough to ignore. He’s so strong where he can run over defenders, but he has sprinter’s speed in the open field. He was nicked up during his senior season of high school but hasn’t proven to be injury prone before or after that. There have been no concerns about him not being able to pick up the offense. He’s healthy. He’s ready. He’s going to make an impact.

Chatmon: Bottom line, Ford is a pretty complete running back with a lot of talent who is college-ready, I just think he finds a way to overcome all obstacles to get onto the field. His performance during Under Armour All-America Game practices this week show the game won't be too big for him when he arrives in Norman. He found a way to catch the eye of most people watching the UA practices and I expect him to do the same during his freshman season at OU.

Przybylo: Regardless of what happens, OU fans should breathe a nice sigh of relief knowing Ford and Ross are both going to be in the backfield.

Editor’s note: The Under Armour All-America Game is live at 4 p.m. CT on ESPN from St. Petersburg, Fla. Ford is expected to be one of the starting running backs.