Oklahoma Sooners: Drew Allen
Allen, who will earn his degree from Oklahoma this month, will be eligible for the Orange immediately, and will compete to replace Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib, who was taken in the fourth round of the NFL draft last weekend.
Before he heads off to his new school, Allen checked in with SoonerNation to talk about his new school, the decision to transfer and what he thinks of OU’s three-way quarterback competition:
Drew Allen: It depends. I’m just now applying. They just sent me applications to get into graduate school. It depends on which graduate school I use or get into, and when that school offers classes. With NCAA rules, you have to be enrolled and taking courses in order to be participating with the team. I imagine though it would be in June.
SN: What are you going to get your Master's in?
Allen: No, I don’t know yet. I met with admissions when I went up there for my visit, and found three, four of them that would be good. If I can get into one that’s good for me, that’s all I can really ask for.
SN: What other schools did you look at?
Allen: Throughout the process, I didn’t really focus on schools, I was looking more so at what schools were looking at me, that would be willing to give me an opportunity and privilege to be able to use my last year to come play for them. Once I figured out who those schools were, I was able to narrow it down.
SN: Who did you narrow it down to?
Allen: It really came down to Syracuse and N.C. State. I visited both schools. In the end I chose Syracuse. I really liked what (Ryan) Nassib did, the direction of the program. They’re moving from the Big East to the ACC, the strength of schedule is favorable for exposure. If we win those games, we put ourselves in a good position to be a nationally-ranked team. The coaches were great. The schemes and type of offense (Orange offensive coordinator George McDonald) is going to run there really fits me, and is pretty much a carryover from what we’ve done at OU. The same kind of stuff.
What we don’t know is who that quarterback will be.
Whatever happens, this figures to be perhaps the most intriguing quarterback derby of the Bob Stoops era.
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Because Allen is set to get his degree in May, under NCAA rules he could transfer to another FBS program and be eligible immediately. Allen could have stayed in Norman another year, but his prospects of playing were dim. Allen lost the No. 2 job last fall to Blake Bell, who is the favorite to succeed Landry Jones next season.
Bob Stoops said earlier this month that he would be supportive of whatever decision Allen made.
“Drew’s a great kid,” Stoops said. “He’s done everything right. He’s been supportive, even of Blake [Bell], through the year. You can see, they’ll pal around together. Our quarterbacks have always been like that; even though they’re competitive, they feel, I guess, like they’ve been treated fairly, so it isn’t his fault.
“So whatever he decides to do, we’re for him, for those reasons. But I’m not sitting here saying that I’m looking for him to do that. But if he were to do it, he’s gonna get everybody’s support here because of the teammate [he is] and the hard work he’s put in.”
One possible destination for Allen is Indiana. Hoosiers coach Kevin Wilson was OU's offensive coordinator before taking the head job at Indiana in 2010. The Hoosiers also run a similar offense to the one OU has, which could make any transition more seamless for Allen.
The Hoosiers played three different QBs last season, eventually settling on sophomore Cameron Coffman.
Ultimately the class should be considered sub-par. About half of the 24 signees became contributors, with Hurst, Ikard, defensive end Ronnell Lewis and tackle Lane Johnson highlighting the list as the only all-conference performers. OU’s class featured six ESPN 150 members but only Lewis learned All-Big 12 honors.
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“I was like, ‘This kid is unreal. Why is he doing this to us?’ ” said end R.J. Washington. “I’m not mad at him -- we need the look. But at the same, you’re like, ‘Trevor, you throw another pass like that, I’m going to hit you in the back of your head.’ ”
Much to the dismay of the OU defense, Knight has thrown many passes like that all season, earning the redshirting freshman scout team co-offensive player of the year honors at last week’s team banquet.
To the point, to anyone who thinks Blake Bell won’t have a fight on his hands to succeed Landry Jones next year, the OU’s first-team defenders say, think again.
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 commitment who could be the future.
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Then: Drew Allen and Blake Bell were in a competitive battle to earn the No. 2 quarterback position as camp opened. Allen, a junior, won the position in 2011 and was Landry Jones' backup for the entire season even as Bell carved out a role in OU’s “Belldozer” package. Allen and Bell battled in the spring without a winner before summer workouts began.
Now: Coach Bob Stoops named Bell the No. 2 quarterback this week as the sophomore signal caller raised his level of play and proved to the coaching staff that he could run OU’s offense smoothly.
Then: Returning starter Dominique Whaley was set to return to practice after missing the spring due to a ankle injury suffered in 2011. But questions about Whaley’s healthy meant questions about the position in general.
Now: By all accounts, Whaley has looked good and is poised to be the likely starter and a major contributor. Brennan Clay, who opened the 2011 campaign as the starter, also returns and his consistent play has been lauded by running backs coach Cale Gundy. Expect him to contribute. Newcomer Damien Williams has impressed during his first month in pads and appears to have earned some carries. Expect all three running backs to get touches for the Sooners. OU has not named a starter but Whaley is the favorite to be on the field for the first snap of 2012.
Then: Kenny Stills and Trey Metoyer were generally considered to be the Sooners' top two receivers at the end of July. OU needed a No. 3 receiver and had several talented newcomers poised to battle for the spot.
Now: Senior Justin Brown decided to transfer to OU from Penn State in early August after the Nittany Lions were hit with NCAA sanctions. Brown didn’t waste time, learning the offense quickly, proving himself to be one of the Sooners top pass catchers and displaying quiet leadership for OU’s young wideouts. Stills, Metoyer and Brown are considered the Sooners top three receivers with Stills playing in the slot.
Then: Heading into preseason camp, the Sooners had no idea who would be their starting tight end. Brannon Green and Taylor McNamara, two newcomers, were battling for the spot.
Now: Bob Stoops said Geneo Grissom is on track to be the Sooners starter at tight end this week. Grissom requested a move to tight end over the summer and he has displayed the size and athleticism that made him one of the nation’s top recruits out of high school. He’s relatively new to the position but he’s one of the best athletes on the team and he will be a matchup nightmare if he continues to pick up the position quickly. Green, a junior, and McNamara, a true freshman, should provide depth.
Then: Lane Johnson, OU’s lone returning starter at tackle, and Tyrus Thompson were battling for the starting left tackle position. Thompson, a sophomore, surprised many by starting the spring game ahead of Johnson.
Now: Johnson is likely to start at left tackle according to tight ends/tackles coach Bruce Kittle this week. Johnson, who started at right tackle in 2011, will be OU’s main “swing” tackle regardless, which means the senior will move to right tackle at times this season with Thompson playing left tackle under that scenario. Regardless OU has three quality tackles they expect to play with Johnson, Thompson and Daryl Williams, a sophomore who locked down the right tackle spot in the spring.
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This fall, Bell appears to be making a move to be the backup quarterback behind Landry Jones. He has had a strong preseason camp and has performed well in live scrimmage situations.
“He was efficient, made plays and took care of the football,” Heupel said of Bell’s performance after OU’s first preseason scrimmage. “He handled himself in a positive way.”
Nonetheless, neither Bell or Drew Allen have been named OU’s No. 2 quarterback and the battle remains extremely fluid.
“We’ll make a decision over the next couple days,” Heupel said. “That means a couple of days to two weeks to three weeks. That’s a very vague answer.”
Bell appears to have surpassed Allen as OU’s backup quarterback but until it is made official the competition remains open. No matter what happens, the Sooners have one of the deepest groups of signal-callers in America.
“(Bell) and Drew Allen are still very close and had good competition through the spring,” Stoops said. “So we’ll just see. That will be decided in the next few weeks as we go through two-a-days.
“We’ve never been quite early at naming our starter when there’s been competition, or a second or third guy if we feel they’re very competitive together. Let’s make sure and watch them a little more and let it play out.”
Stoops said no matter what happens with the No. 2 QB competition, Bell will continue to operate out of the Belldozer package. But what has excited Stoops this offseason is Bell’s development outside the Belldozer.
“Whether it’s red-zone scores, fourth-down pickups, short yardage, those plays are important,” Stoops said. “But what people overlook is that he’s really an excellent thrower. Or we would have never recruited him. We’re excited about his progress that people don’t see that we do in practice, his progress in important areas that we’re excited about.”
After retiring from arena league football in 2005, Whitfield scoured the country, sitting in on meetings and watching practices of the major programs in college football. Along the way, Whitfield picked up a tip here, a drill there. By 2010, Whitfield had taken on Ben Roethlisberger as a client, and Whitfield’s curriculum began to create a buzz among the NFL and college football.
As he prepared for this week’s Elite 11 finals in Redondo Beach, Calif., Whitfield spoke to SoonerNation about his training with Jones:
Jake Trotter: How did you get hooked up with Landry Jones?
So he touched base about coming out to California for spring break. At the time we talked, I hadn’t even met with Andrew (Luck) yet, so I thought we’d be in San Diego. Obviously Andrew (Luck’s pro day) situation developed to where we would be working out at Stanford. I called Landry back and told him I was going to be with Andrew at Stanford. He said, ‘Can I work out before and after Andrew? I’d love to still come out there.’ I hadn’t even thought about that. He said, ‘My dad and I will be there.’
And they came, and it was a great experience, from minute one. The guy is humble, grounded, a grinder. He sent emails with things he wanted to work on, things he thought he could improve, a bunch of questions about the quarterback position. The guy is meticulous. I thought, ‘Man, if he has this approach before he hits the field, what’s it gonna be like when he gets on the field?’ It proved out right. We had two great camps.
Trotter: Where is Landry special as a quarterback, and where can he and has he improved this offseason?
- Steele projects that OU will go to the national championship and face Florida State at Sun Life Stadium in Miami. (By the way, if that happened it would be the fourth time of five tries OU would play for the BCS title in its opponent’s home state).
- While Athlon selected Landry Jones as its third-team All-Big 12 QB, Steele ranks Jones as a second-team All-America and the No. 3 QB in the country behind USC’s Matt Barkley and Arkansas’ Tyler Wilson. Interestingly, Steele has OU backup Drew Allen as the No. 36 overall QB, but left Blake Bell out of the top 60.
- Jones is Steele’s No. 2 Heisman contender behind Barkley, ahead of the likes of Marcus Lattimore, Montee Ball and Denard Robinson. Steele actually has Kenny Stills as one of the top 20 contenders (I actually think Dominique Whaley would have a better shot of winning the Heisman than Stills).[+] EnlargeAP Photo/Steve CannonPhil Steele ranks Landry Jones as the No. 3 quarterback in college football.
- Whaley is the No. 44 overall RB, 14 spots ahead of teammate Roy Finch. It’s reasonable to think Whaley would be ranked higher had it not been for last year’s season-ending ankle injury.
- Joining Jones on Steele’s All-America teams are Stills (third team), OG Gabe Ikard (fourth team) and S Tony Jefferson (fourth team). Stills is rated the No. 7 WR overall. The only other OU WR ranked is Jaz Reynolds at No. 60.
- Trey Millard is deservedly ranked the No. 2 FB in the country, behind SMU’s Zach Line. Curiously, Marshall Musil, who hasn’t seen a significant snap since the 2009 Red-White Spring Game, is rated the No. 16 FB.
- Ben Habern is the No. 7 center; Ikard the No. 12 guard; Tyler Evans the No. 19 guard; Lane Johnson the No. 58 tackle.
- How about this? Steele rates Michael Hunnicutt as the eighth-best kicker in the country.
- No OU ends make Steele’s top 60, but Steele is relatively high on the OU tackles. Jamarkus McFarland (17th), Casey Walker (41st) and Stacy McGee (50th) all made the list.
- Tom Wort is the No. 10 inside linebacker; Corey Nelson the No. 15 outside linebacker.
- Tress Way is the ninth-best punter, according to Steele.
- Rightfully so, Steele is pretty high on the OU secondary. Demontre Hurst is his No. 14 CB; Aaron Colvin No. 41. Tony Jefferson is the No. 5 FS. And, as a bit of a surprise, Javon Harris is ranked the No. 13 SS nationally.
- In his unit rankings, Steele has OU’s QBs No. 2; its RBs No. 15 (which is actually only fourth in the Big 12); its WRs No. 10; its OL No. 5; its DL No. 17; its LBs No. 14; its DBs No. 4 (behind both Texas and Oklahoma State); and its special teams No. 15 (we’ll see.)
- On Steele’s All-Big 12 team: Jones, Stills, Ikard, Wort and Jefferson; second-teamers include Whaley, Evans, Way, Hunnicutt, Walker, Nelson and Hurst (can’t really argue any of these, though I think Colvin has a better shot at All-Big 12 than Walker and Nelson.).
No. 15 Drew Allen
Quarterback, 6-foot-5, 239 pounds
Impact so far: After redshirting in 2009, Allen has served as Landry Jones' backup for the past two seasons, earning playing time in blowout games. As a redshirt freshman in 2010, Allen played in five games and completed 9 of 14 passes for 89 yards. Last season Allen played in five games, completing 9 of 16 passes for 71 yards.
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2011 conference record: 6-3 (T-3rd)
Returning starters: offense: 8; defense: 7; kicker/punter: 2
QB Landry Jones, RB Dominique Whaley, FB Trey Millard, WR Kenny Stills, OG Gabe Ikard, LB Tom Wort, CB Demontre Hurst, CB/S Aaron Colvin, FS Tony Jefferson
WR Ryan Broyles, LT Donald Stephenson, TE James Hanna, DE Ronnell Lewis, DE Frank Alexander, LB Travis Lewis, CB Jamell Fleming
2011 statistical leaders (*returners)
Rushing: Dominique Whaley* (627 yards)
Passing: Landry Jones* (4,463 yards)
Receiving: Ryan Broyles (1,157 yards)
Tackles: Travis Lewis and Aaron Colvin* (84)
Sacks: Frank Alexander (8.5)
Interceptions: Tony Jefferson* (4)
1. Trey Metoyer is the real deal: The true freshman had the best spring of any wide receiver on the OU roster, then capped it by leading the Sooners in receiving in the spring game. Metoyer has all but solidified a starting spot at wide receiver, and should help fill the massive production gap left by the graduation of Ryan Broyles.
2. Secondary on right path: Mike Stoops wasted no time revamping the secondary, sliding Tony Jefferson to free safety while inserting Javon Harris back into the starting lineup at strong safety. Stoops liked what he saw there in the spring, and if Harris can continue to bounce back from a shaky 2011 season, Stoops will have the flexibility of bumping Aaron Colvin to cornerback opposite three-year starter Demontre Hurst, solidifying the Sooners there, too.
3. O-line could be OU’s best in years: Not since 2008 have the Sooners been this deep and talented on the offensive line. Even with center Ben Habern rehabbing from offseason neck surgery, the line didn’t miss a beat grinding out OU’s defensive front most of the spring. Gabe Ikard has proved he can excel at either guard or center, guard Tyler Evans is entering his fourth year as a starter, and Adam Shead could be OU’s top interior run-blocker since All-American Duke Robinson. The tackles remain a little bit of a question mark. But Daryl Williams all but locked down the starting job on the right side with a great spring. On the left side, Tyrus Thompson is pushing to beat out 2011 starting right tackle Lane Johnson.
1. The No. 2 QB battle: Bob Stoops is no hurry to name a backup quarterback, a competition that figures to extend through August. Blake Bell, who shined running the ball out of the Belldozer formation last season, outplayed Drew Allen in the spring game, but Allen had his moments, too, and has another year of experience in the offense. Whoever wins the No. 2 job could have a leg up on the 2013 derby to replace Landry Jones.
2. The defensive line: Bob Stoops has had a first-team all-Big 12 defensive lineman every year since 1999. That streak, however, could be in jeopardy. Gone are sack machines Frank Alexander and Ronnell Lewis, leaving the Sooners without a proven difference-maker up front. The top five players in the rotation across the front will all be seniors, making it the most experienced in the conference. But for the Sooners to win the Big 12 and contend for a national title, someone must emerge as that difference-maker.
3. The backfield rotation: The Sooners have options in the backfield, but it’s unclear how running backs coach Cale Gundy will use them. It’s also unclear how effective 2011 leading rusher Dominique Whaley will be after missing half of last season with a fractured ankle. Roy Finch can be electric with the ball, but has not earned the trust of the coaching staff in his pass protection. Brennan Clay, banged up the past two seasons, finally looks healthy and had a solid spring. Then there’s touted junior-college transfer Damien Williams, who was also recruited by USC, and fullback Trey Millard, who warrants at least a handful of carries a game. Will someone emerge as the feature back? Or will Gundy go with a backfield by committee?
“I thought he did really well,” quarterback Drew Allen said. “[With] his composure and he way he ran the offense. The thing I’ve noticed about him, he might not get as many reps as everybody (but) he works hard mentally to make sure he is compared so when he does go out there, he does what he did today.”
The elusive signal-caller also rushed for 25 yards on three carries. It was obvious it could take a while for Thompson to get comfortable sitting back in the pocket but he looked at home in the open field, eluding defenders.
“He kind of reminds me of RGIII with the way he moves and is so elusive,” linebacker Corey Nelson said, comparing Thompson to Baylor's Heisman-winning signal-caller, Robert Griffin III. ‘He’s so accurate with his passes, he did very well.”
Receiver Trey Metoyer: The spring enrollee has been the star of spring football. He has displayed excellent hands, competitiveness and playmaking ability, proving to be a player who is expected to make a major contribution this fall.
Saturday is Metoyer’s chance to cement himself a role in OU’s offense and if he continues to show dynamic playmaking ability it will give offensive coordinator Josh Heupel some flexibility and the opportunity to be creative as a tinkers with the offense this summer.
Defensive tackle Jordan Phillips: Phillips has been the defense’s version of Metoyer. Rave reviews have been coming in from his teammates, particularly the offensive linemen who have had to face him during spring practices.
He possesses unique athleticism at 6-foot-6, 329 pounds. Guard Gabe Ikard has praised him throughout the spring calling him “the next Gerald McCoy” and “a future All-American.” Saturday is Phillips' opportunity to show everyone he will be a playmaker this fall.
The cornerback position is unlikely to be solidified until the end of fall camp but if Harris can continue to impress it will help OU handle the explosive passing offenses of the Big 12. Saturday is a major opportunity for Harris to secure himself a role in Mike Stoops defense.
Quarterbacks Blake Bell and Drew Allen: Offensive coordinator Josh Heupel says he wants Bell and Allen competing as if they have the opportunity to win the starting job, otherwise “they’re cheating themselves and cheating the program.”
Obviously the coaches will continue to have a close eye on the Sooners backup quarterbacks and Saturday will be the chance for Bell or Allen to take a major step towards securing the backup quarterback position.
Bell is known for the “Belldozer” short-yardage package which the Sooners used with major success in 2011 but multiple teammates have lauded his passing abilities. Allen was OU’s backup in 2011 and has more experience in running the offense thanks to his three years on campus.
Offensive tackles Derek Farniok, Tyrus Thompson and Daryl Williams: Lane Johnson has moved to left tackle and is the Sooners most experienced returning tackle. Farniok, Thompson and Williams have impressed this spring, giving tackles coach Bruce Kittle the expectation that OU will have four solid tackles (and the flexibility to rotate) this fall.
The trio could take major steps towards solidify Kittle’s expectation with strong games on Saturday. Williams was slated to start at right tackle in 2011 before an ankle injury against Tulsa hampered him for the remainder of the season. Thompson has been rotating at left tackle with Johnson and Kittle calls him “game-ready”. Farniok, Williams’ backup at right tackle, has been arguably the most impressive lineman this spring after redshirting last season. At 6-foot-8 and 325 pounds, Farniok has made major strides since he arrived on campus last summer.