Oklahoma Sooners: David King

Oklahoma Sooners spring wrap

May, 1, 2013
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OKLAHOMA SOONERS

2012 record: 10-3

2012 conference record: 8-1 (tied for first, Big 12)

Returning starters: Offense: 7; defense: 4; kicker/punter: 1

Top returners

RB Damien Williams, FB Trey Millard, WR Jalen Saunders, WR Sterling Shepard, C Gabe Ikard, DE/DT Chuka Ndulue, LB Corey Nelson, CB Aaron Colvin

Key losses

QB Landry Jones, WR Justin Brown, WR Kenny Stills, OT Lane Johnson, DE David King, CB Demontre Hurst, FS Tony Jefferson, SS Javon Harris

2012 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Damien Williams* (946 yards)
Passing: Landry Jones (4,267yards)
Receiving: Kenny Stills (959 yards)
Tackles: Tony Jefferson (119)
Sacks: Chuka Ndulue* (5)
Interceptions: Javon Harris (6)

Spring answers

1. Playmakers abound: The Sooners might have lost leading receivers Kenny Stills and Justin Brown, but there’s plenty of firepower back to support whoever wins the starting quarterback job. Jalen Saunders was actually Oklahoma’s most efficient receiver the second half of last season and seems primed to take over as the go-to target. The Sooners also have several talented up-and-coming receivers who had good springs, led by slot extraordinaire Sterling Shepard. The backfield is even deeper, with leading rushers Damien Williams and Brennan Clay back, to go along with Trey Millard, one of the top all-around fullbacks in the country.

2. Cortez will flank Colvin: The secondary was decimated by graduation and Tony Jefferson’s early entry into the NFL draft. One of those voids was cornerback, where Demontre Hurst had started the previous years. That void at least, however, appears to have been filled. Arizona transfer Cortez Johnson seized the job from the first day of spring drills, and has given the Sooners every indication to believe they’ll have a big, physical corner to pair with All-American candidate Aaron Colvin in the fall.

3. The linebackers will play: In a desperate move to slow down the high-powered passing attacks of the Big 12, defensive coordinator Mike Stoops pulled his linebackers off the field. The plan backfired, as opposing offenses ran at will over the linebacker-less Sooners. This spring, Stoops has renewed his commitment to the linebacker, which, ironically, could be the strength of the defense. Corey Nelson, Frank Shannon and Aaron Franklin are all athletic and capable of generating negative plays, something Oklahoma’s defense sorely lacked last season.

Fall questions

1. Who the QB will be in October: Bob Stoops said he would wait until the fall before naming a starter, and so far, he’s made good on his word. Junior Blake Bell took a lead in the competition during the spring, as expected. But sophomore Kendal Thompson and redshirt freshman Trevor Knight, who both got equal reps as Bell, played well at times, too. It’s hard to see Bell not starting the first game. But if he struggles against a tough September schedule, it’s not unthinkable one of the younger QBs would be given a shot.

2. How the new offense will fare: Looking to utilize the skill sets of their mobile quarterbacks, the Sooners will be running a very different offense from the one Sam Bradford and Landry Jones both operated. Offensive coordinator Josh Heupel kept most of these new plays - including loads of read option -- in his hip pocket during the spring game. But it will be interesting to see how the Sooners -- and just as important, opposing defenses -- adjust to this new era of offense in Norman.

3. Defensive line play: The Sooners went into spring ball with just three defensive tackles on the roster, and little experience at defensive end. The unit showed strides during the spring, with Chuka Ndulue making a smooth transition from end to tackle, and tackle Jordan Phillips coming up big in the spring game. But that was the spring. The defensive line will have to continue to grow rapidly in the fall for the Sooners to have any hope of improving from last year defensively.
NORMAN, Okla. -- The first time he stepped on the field as a Sooner, defensive end Charles Tapper felt uncertainty.

“It was nerve-racking,” he said.

In the Sooners’ 2012 season opener, the UTEP offensive tackle on the opposite side of the line of scrimmage did his best to intimidate Tapper, then just a freshman.

[+] EnlargeCharles Tapper
AP Photo/Sue OgrockiDefensive end Charles Tapper player sparingly for the Sooners in 2012, but he'll be a key member of the defense this season.
“I was kind of scared to go out there at first,” Tapper said. “The offensive tackle was just staring at me and I was just shaking.”

So instinct took over.

“So I tried to do a basketball move and he just threw me out of the way,” said Tapper, who was a standout basketball player who didn’t play football until his junior year at Baltimore (Md.) City College High School.

Later in the game, Tapper got the best of his one-on-one battle, pressuring UTEP quarterback Nick Lamaison in the final minutes of OU’s 24-7 win.

“After my first snap I was OK, I was ready to play,” Tapper said.

Those moments in El Paso, Texas, define Tapper's first season at OU. During times of uncertainty, the raw defeensive end turned to his basketball roots yet when he focused on his football fundamentals, he saw success.

(Read full post)

Position breakdown: Defensive tackle 

February, 25, 2013
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NORMAN, Okla. -- Michigan defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery will become Oklahoma's defensive tackles coach. And he faces a tall task in Norman.

No position on Oklahoma’s roster has more questions marks than defensive tackle.

Position breakdown: Defensive end 

February, 22, 2013
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NORMAN, Okla. -- Nowhere have the Sooners done a better job compiling young talent defensively than at defensive end.

But two questions loom going into the spring. Will that young talent be ready to contribute to a defense in need of impact performers? And how will the Sooners use their defensive ends?


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Colleague Travis Haney took a look at the 10 teams who will lose the most talent in the country from 2012 to 2013.

There's only one Big 12 team on his list, and it's the 2012 preseason favorite: Oklahoma, which is sitting at No. 3 on a list you probably don't want to see your team on.

Landry Jones is the biggest name gone, but Haney says this might be Bob Stoops' biggest rebuild project ever in more than a decade in Norman.

The team's three most talented players -- Jones, receiver Kenny Stills and safety Tony Jefferson -- are the biggest losses, but don't overlook guys like tackle Lane Johnson and defensive linemen David King and Jamarkus McFarland. Defensive backs Demontre Hurst and Javon Harris won't be easy to replace, either.

Oklahoma was fortunate to keep cornerback Aaron Colvin and do-everything offensive Swiss army knife Trey Millard, who I'd expect to get a whole lot more touches next season. He was criminally underused in the Sooners' offense this past season. Just ask Texas if Millard should get more touches.

Oklahoma's offensive renaissance should be interesting. There won't be major changes, but Stoops is always going to build around what his personnel does best, and next season, likely with Blake Bell at the helm, you can expect the quarterback running game to be featured. It's still likely going to be a pass-first offense, but with Millard and Bell, next season's team might be a little more physical between the tackles.

I'd agree with Haney in that the top of the Big 12 looks really weak for 2013, which may provide opportunity for the Sooners to make a Big 12 title run, despite all the losses.

2012 review: Improvement, regression 

January, 8, 2013
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For the second straight year, Oklahoma finished the season with a 10-3 record. Both seasons featured disappointments late in the season (Oklahoma State in 2011, Texas A&M in 2012) yet the Sooners were in the Big 12 championship mix heading into the final game of the regular season each season. OU saw some improvements in 2012, but they were joined by some clear steps backward. Here’s a look at how the Sooners improved, how they regressed and how they maintained in 2012.

Improved

[+] EnlargeJalen Saunders
William Purnell/Icon SMIJalen Saunders was one of four explosive receivers that Landry Jones had at his disposal this season.
• Passing game

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Scout talks Jones, Sooners in Cotton Bowl

January, 7, 2013
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On ESPN Insider today, Scouts Inc. NFL draft writer Kevin Weidl wrote about several Sooners and Aggies in the AT&T Cotton Bowl last weekend. Check out his evaluations of QB Landry Jones, WR Kenny Stills, S Tony Jefferson, CB Demontre Hurst, S Javon Harris, DE David King and WR Justin Brown here. Insider

Oklahoma 10: Final power rankings 

January, 6, 2013
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Each week, SoonerNation ranked Oklahoma’s top 10 performers of the season. Following OU’s 41-13 loss to Texas A&M in the AT&T Cotton Bowl, here is the final Oklahoma 10 of 2012:

[+] EnlargeLandry Jones
Rick Scuteri/AP ImagesOklahoma quarterback finishes his career as the most prolific signal-caller in school history.
1. QB Landry Jones (Last week: No. 1): Jones didn’t have the kind of career finale he had hoped for. But without him, the Sooners go 8-5 this season, at best. His turnovers can drive one crazy, but Jones was OU’s best player this season. He will be tougher to replace than most OU fans think.

2. FB Trey Millard (5): The only silver lining to come out of Friday night was Millard’s announcement that he’s coming back to school for his senior season. Millard finished with 198 yards on 33 carries. If the Sooners are going to be a serious team in 2013, Millard’s touches need to triple.

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State of the position: Defensive end 

December, 20, 2012
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After grading the performance of Oklahoma’s defensive ends in 2012, it is the perfect time to take a closer look at the defensive ends on the roster or the commitment list as SoonerNation evaluates the future at the position for Oklahoma. Here’s a look at one player who could be next in line to make a major impact, one player to keep an eye on and one current commitment who could be the future at defensive end.

Next in line: Geneo Grissom. The sophomore’s raw athletic ability and physical gifts were never in question heading into the 2012 season. After injury-filled first two seasons in Norman, Grissom started the season at tight end before moving to defensive end in the middle of the year. He immediately began earning playing time and saw significant action in November. He appears poised to be a core member of OU’s defensive end rotation in 2013.

Keep an eye on: Charles Tapper. His combination of strength and athleticism has impressed teammates since he stepped on campus last summer. The former standout basketball player has just scratched the surface of his upside on the gridiron and will have plenty of opportunities to become a key part of OU’s defense as a sophomore. His development could be a key to the overall production and depth at the position.

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NORMAN, Okla. -- Johnny Manziel has won the Heisman. Beaten Alabama. Led the SEC in rushing.

But what has impressed Oklahoma’s defenders the most?

[+] EnlargeJohnny Manziel
Kevin Jairaj/US PresswireTexas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel presents a challenge for the Sooners with his arm and legs.
The Texas A&M quarterback’s verified, blue-checkmarked Twitter account.

“Dude. I was like, ‘Ahhhhh,’ said OU safety Tony Jefferson, replaying his expression when he noticed Manziel’s blue checkmark. “And he’s only a freshman. That’s tight, though.”

Since learning they would be playing Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl, the Sooners have had to watch “Johnny Football” become a national celebrity. After becoming the first freshman to capture the Heisman, Manziel did the Top 10 list on the "Late Show with David Letterman" and appeared on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," where he hung out with actress Megan Fox.

HarperCollins is actually publishing an ebook on Manziel the day after Christmas. And in the last month, Manziel’s Twitter account has ballooned from 30,000 followers to more than 164,000, earning him the coveted blue checkmark.

“It’s extra motivation,” said OU defensive end David King. “We’ve had to sit around here for a month and watch ESPN and all they talk about is ‘Johnny Football,’ or ‘Johnny Heisman,’ or whatever they call him now. We sit around and we get tired of watching it. The whole national media is scrutinizing our defense and that we can’t stop the run. We’re underdogs in this game. We have a lot to prove and on Jan. 4 we’ll be ready to play.”

Yet the Sooners also realize stopping Johnny Football will be their biggest challenge of the season to date.

On his way to winning the Heisman trophy, Manziel threw for 3,419 yards and 24 touchdowns, and rushed for an SEC-best 1,181 yards and 19 touchdowns to break Cam Newton’s SEC single-season total offense record.

What ultimately delivered Manziel the Heisman, though, was his performance at Alabama. Facing the top-ranked Crimson Tide, Manziel led the Aggies on touchdown drives on their first three possessions to give Texas A&M an early 20-0 lead. He finished 24 of 31 passing for 253 yards and two touchdowns, and ran for another 92 yards, as the Aggies toppled Alabama 29-24.

“He can create so many issues,” said OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops. “He can run you ragged. I’ve never seen anyone improvise and create like he can.”

Such quarterbacks have given the Sooners fits in the past. Collin Klein’s patient mobility doomed OU earlier this season. Notre Dame’s Everett Golson and Oklahoma State’s Clint Chelf gashed the Sooners on the ground, too.

But with all attention on Manziel, the OU defense also realizes the opportunity is there to gain a little respect for itself.

“Winning the game and doing it on the defensive side of the ball would give us that nod,” King said. “We have to stop him.

“If we do, we’ll win the game.”

OU position grades: Defensive ends 

December, 19, 2012
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In the weeks leading up to the Cotton Bowl, SoonerNation will take a look back at how the Sooners performed position-by-position and give each group a grade based on that performance. Today, we examine the defensive end position.

GradeHighlights: Senior David King capped a solid career with a solid senior season. The second-team All-Big 12 selection finished the regular season with 25 tackles and proved to be OU’s most valuable player on the defensive line because of his versatility to play tackle, too.

Lowlights: The Sooners struggled to get pressure on opposing QBs all season and finished 61st nationally with just 24 sacks. OU had 40 sacks last season. Senior R.J. Washington came up with a huge strip in the victory at TCU, but drifted in and out of the rotation. Chuka Ndulue was solid at times, but he and Washington each struggled with their run fits. Teams such as Kansas State, West Virginia, Baylor and Oklahoma State took full advantage as the Sooners finished with the No. 83 run defense in the country.

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Roundtable: Biggest hole on defense? 

December, 13, 2012
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Every Thursday, the SoonerNation staff will answer a roundtable question about OU football. Leave a comment or talk about it in our "There's Only One" forum.

Today's question: Which graduating Sooner leaves the biggest hole for Oklahoma to fill on defense in 2013?

[+] EnlargeSkye Dawson, Demontre Hurst
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireSooners cornerback Demontre Hurst has been a three-year starter.
• One of the reasons that Oklahoma was so good against the pass this season was its cornerback tandem. Aaron Colvin was the star of this duo, earning All-Big 12 honors. But Demontre Hurst also provided standout coverage. In the last three years, the Sooners have never had to worry about the steady, durable Hurst or his position. That changes in the spring. Gary Simon has potential and Cortez Johnson has experience from Arizona. But neither is the player yet that Hurst has proved to be.

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Five Sooners to watch in bowl practices 

December, 5, 2012
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Bowl practices can be a critical time for any football program. It’s an opportunity for young players to show how they’ve improved during the season and set themselves up in integral roles on the offense or defense heading into the spring while the veterans recover from a physical schedule.

Here’s a look at five young players at Oklahoma who could use bowl practices as a springboard to a bigger role for the Sooners in 2013.

[+] EnlargeTrey Metoyer
Richard Rowe/US PresswireTrey Metoyer began the season as a starter for the Sooners and finished with 17 catches for 148 yards.
Receiver Trey Metoyer

It’s important Metoyer understands he is still a big part of OU’s offensive plans in the future and that starts with these bowl practices. With Justin Brown leaving and Kenny Stills potentially declaring for the NFL draft, the Sooners will need Metoyer to emerge as a quality target as a sophomore.

With the Sooners looking at playing without Jalen Saunders after his recent arrest, Metoyer could be asked to play a bigger role in the offense during the Cotton Bowl. Metoyer began the season as a starter but his youth and inexperience showed at times during his freshman season.

Defensive tackle Jordan Phillips

Phillips’ development is one of the most critical concerns for the Sooners heading into 2013 with their top three defensive tackles -- seniors Jamarkus McFarland, Stacy McGee and Casey Walker -- leaving the program after the Cotton Bowl.

The redshirt freshman has great size (6-foot-6, 316 pounds) and has seen more playing time as the season has progressed, recording 12 tackles. He’s had his moments when he’s played well but he’s far from a finished product. And the Sooners will desperately need him to play like one in 2013.

Cornerback Gary Simon

Senior Demontre Hurst has played as well as anyone on OU’s defense in 2012 and will be a big loss when he moves on after the Cotton Bowl. And junior Aaron Colvin could decide to test NFL waters. Therefore, Simon’s progress is important for OU’s defense.

The true freshman has seen limited playing time in blowout wins this season, so the bowl practices could be a opportunity for him to see some time with the No. 1 defense against the No. 1 offense. Simon impressed in the preseason and has the physical traits to be an impact player, he just needs the experience.

Defensive end Geneo Grissom


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Sooner Snapshot: DE Matt Dimon 

November, 20, 2012
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To gear up for 2013 national signing day, SoonerNation's Brandon Chatmon is breaking down every commitment in the Sooners' 2013 recruiting class. View the full archive here.

Vitals: Defensive end Matt Dimon, Katy, Texas/Katy | 6-foot-3, 250 pounds

[+] EnlargeMatt Dimon
Max Olson/ESPN.comOU commit Matt Dimon is ranked as the No. 24 defensive end in the nation.
Committed: March 13, 2012

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The Oklahoma 10: Week 11 

November, 12, 2012
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Each week, SoonerNation will rank Oklahoma’s top 10 performers of the season up to this point. Plenty of Sooners continued their strong play in OU’s 42-34 win over Baylor on Saturday.

1. S Tony Jefferson (Last week: No. 1): Jefferson missed some tackles but he remains among the nation’s elite defensive backs. He had 11 tackles including 10 solo stops against a Bears offense built upon winning one-on-one matchups in the open field.

[+] EnlargeJustin Brown
AP Photo/Sue OgrockiOU receiver Justin Brown has 41 catches and four touchdowns receiving this season.
2. FB Trey Millard (2): Even though Millard only touched the ball four times, he’s incredibly valuable on offense and special teams. He helped the Sooners rush for 183 yards.

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