Oklahoma Sooners: Jaydan Bird

Oklahoma Sooners Class of 2009 review 

January, 24, 2013
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Oklahoma’s 2009 recruiting class had some hidden gems, including cornerback Demontre Hurst and center Gabe Ikard, but it had some disappointments as well, such as safety Kevin Brent and linebacker Gus Jones.

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.

Top 5 moments: Damien Williams goes yard

December, 11, 2012
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Damien Williams, Quandre DiggsJohn Rhodes/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCTDamien Williams seized the momentum of the Red River Rivalry with a 95-yard touchdown run against Texas.
SoonerNation is counting down the top five moments of Oklahoma’s 2012 season this week.

Play No. 4

Despite being outplayed through the first quarter, Texas only trailed the Sooners only 6-2 and had them pinned at their own 5. The Longhorns were a big play away from the brink of taking the lead.

Instead, OU’s junior-college tailback delivered the big play.

Out of the three-back pistol formation, Damien Williams took the handoff up the middle. Thanks to devastating blocks by fullbacks Jaydan Bird and Trey Millard, Williams broke through into the open field. He cut off another block by wide receiver Justin Brown, juked another Texas defender to the ground and was off the races down. Kenny Stills took care of the last Longhorn with a devastating blindside block that Quandre Diggs flying into the OU sideline, and Williams capped off the 95-yard touchdown dash by racing into the end zone.

The momentum-swinging score sapped the life out of the Longhorns, as OU cruised to a 36-2 halftime lead.

"We couldn't stop the run," Longhorns defensive end Alex Okafor said afterward. “When you can't stop the run, things get ugly real quick.”

Things got even uglier for Texas in the second half. Spearheaded by Williams’ 167 rushing yards, OU outgained Texas by 388 yards, the biggest yardage disparity in the rivalry in 62 years. Williams’ 95-yard TD was the longest run in the history of the series, too. And it was the play that got the party started early in Dallas as OU rolled 63-21.

"It was exciting to have the score the way it turned out, to have guys clicking together and making their assignments, having people doing what they are supposed to do,” Williams said after the game. “It is a great feeling when you come out on top."

Film review: Oklahoma 52, Kansas 7 

October, 21, 2012
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videoIt would have been easy for Oklahoma to suffer a letdown against Kansas. Instead, Jayhawks fans wish the Sooners would would have let up in OU’s 52-7 win at Owen Field on Saturday. Quarterback Landry Jones was superb, the OU defense was dominant and the special teams did something that had never been done in program history.

Receiver Kenny Stills' 44-yard touchdown catch

The Sooners' first touchdown pretty much sums up the game. After a play-action fake to running back Damien Williams, Jones threw a beautiful pass to Stills right over the shoulder of KU cornerback JaCorey Shepherd. Three of Stills' six catches came on that scoring drive.

A closer look at the play shows why this game turned into a blowout:
[+] EnlargeCasey Walker
Jackson Laizure/Getty ImagesDefensive tackle Casey Walker scooped up a fumble and ran it 45 yards.

  • Shepherd gave Stills a 10-yard cushion and still got beaten deep.

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Video: Jaydan Bird on playing two ways

September, 5, 2012
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video
Oklahoma senior two-way player Jaydan Bird discusses his expanded role with Brandon Chatmon.
The Sooners used middle linebacker Jaydan Bird as a fullback in the Belldozer in their final two games last season after Aaron Ripkowski suffered a back injury. They apparently liked what they saw from Bird’s blocking because on Saturday, OU used Bird as a fullback in the “Diamond” formation along with fullback Trey Millard and a running back.

“Jaydan’s excellent in that,” Bob Stoops said. “Everyone forgets he’s a high school running back, and a good one. He does a good job in there. He did it last year for us, too. That’s why we had to change his number from 55 to 44, so we can throw the ball to him once in a while.”

Bird remains Tom Wort’s backup at middle linebacker, and has been getting his work at fullback on the side.

“Jaydan’s a bright guy. He handles it well,” Stoops said. “The times they get him in meetings or if he comes up during the day, they school him up on what they want him to do, what they’re looking to do that day. He goes over there during practice when they’re working on it.”
In his first game back as coordinator of the Oklahoma defense, Mike Stoops was pleased with the overall performance. Despite giving up 177 yards on the ground to tailback Nathan Jeffery, the Sooners kept UTEP out of the end zone.

“We had consistent pressure all night,” Stoops said. “Thought we made it very uncomfortable for them.”

[+] EnlargeTom Wort
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireJunior linebacker Tom Wort was satisfied with his performance against UTEP.
Stoops said the “front played awfully well,” despite not having starting tackles Casey Walker (who again wasn’t at practice Monday because of a personal issue) and Stacy McGee, who remains suspended. But Stoops saved most of his praise for the back seven, which didn’t give up a pass for longer than 13 yards.

“The linebackers (Corey Nelson and Tom Wort) are both outstanding players,” he said. “I think (the back seven) can be the strength of this team. Julian Wilson played well (in the dime) -- I’m very pleased with the whole back seven.”

The performance, however, wasn’t perfect. The Sooners allowed UTEP to march down the field on its opening drive before the Miners missed a field goal. Jeffery also broke off a 71-yard run. Stoops, however, put that on the coaching staff and the fact the scheme was rather vanilla.

“That’s the great thing -- we could have dominated the game,” Stoops said. “We went in there with a very limited package and we played well. We can get those things fixed.”

• Because of the change in defensive scheme, some seem to think that middle linebacker Tom Wort had a poor performance. That’s not what the defensive coaching staff thought. Instead they handed him a 93 percent grade -- the highest grade he has ever received wearing an OU uniform.

“I don’t think people understand what ‘Gap Defense’ is,” Wort said. “It’s about playing your gap.”

Under Brent Venables, the Sooners allowed Wort to flow from sideline to sideline making tackles. But in the scheme the Sooners played against UTEP, Wort was responsible for taking on anything in his gap -- leading people watching on TV to think he was getting blocked on every down.

“I’ve heard people saying I can’t get off blocks,” said Wort, who still finished with seven tackles. “But when you’re playing gap, you’re responsible for that gap.”

Weakside linebacker Corey Nelson also graded out in the 90s. Like Wort, Nelson too agreed the new scheme was an adjustment for him.

“It was good, I kind of felt like a role player,” he said. “I didn't make as many plays as I wanted to, but that's how the defense is.

“Me, Tom Wort and Joseph Ibiloye graded out in the high 90s.”

• Senior defensive end R.J. Washington got the first start of his career against UTEP, and performed pretty well. Washington graded out at an 87.

“I got a couple pressures,” he said. “But I got caught upfield (on some of Jeffery's runs). I wasn’t reading the mesh fast enough.”

Washington attributed his over-commitment to rushing the passer to anxiety in making his first start. But he said all of that is correctable going forward.

“I just messed up,” he said. “Wasn’t overly terrible. But not what we need. I can’t be making technique mistakes.”

Washington admitted it was somewhat surreal to be finally starting after four years on the sidelines. It was even more surreal to never come off the field.

“At one point I looked at Chuka (Ndulue) and was like, ‘We’ve been on the field for a long time ...’ ” Washington said. “Last year we rotated people in. I just started thinking, ‘There’s nobody coming.’ But I wasn’t even tired, the work we put in during the winter and the summer led to us being ready for that situation.”

Washington said he played a career-high 62 snaps on Saturday after entering the game with a career best of 34 snaps during his first three seasons.


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Postgame wrap: Oklahoma 24, UTEP 7 

September, 2, 2012
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Analyzing the finer points of Oklahoma’s 24-7 win Saturday at UTEP:

• I had high hopes for OU’s special teams. But this was the most disastrous special teams performance in a long time. The Sooners had a punt blocked for a touchdown, a field goal blocked and repeatedly turned Michael Edwards loose trying to cover punts. Had UTEP’s field-goal kicking not been even worse, the Sooners might have lost. It’s too soon to write off OU’s special teams. Michael Hunnicutt did nail a 38-yarder, and Tress Way otherwise had a strong night punting, pinning UTEP inside the 20 three times. But let’s not act like OU’s special teams issues have been solved either. Special teams didn’t get OU beat Saturday. But they almost certainly will down the line if they don’t improve.

[+] EnlargeNathan Jeffery
Jim Cowsert/US PresswireUTEP running back Nathan Jeffery killed the Sooners on the ground, but was dinged up late in the game.
• Had OU’s offense been much crisper, we’d probably be harping more on how improved Landry Jones’ footwork is. Jones’ work with QB tutor George Whitfield this offseason has really paid off. Jones would not have been able to deliver the 68-yard bomb he threw across his body to Kenny Stills along the opposite sideline last season. “After that TD, I told Landry, ‘You look great,’” Stills said. “He worked really hard in the offseason, and he looks great and has a lot of confidence.” Jones got outside the pocket more times in one game than he did all of last season. On one play in the second quarter, Jones sidestepped the blitz, then delivered an off-balance strike to Dominique Whaley. Had Whaley not dropped the pass, he might have scored.

• Considering he’s been one of OU’s most consistent playmakers over the last two seasons, it’s crazy to think that Roy Finch didn’t get a single offensive snap Saturday. Not one. The Sooners had designed a package for Finch in the slot full of screens and reverses, but didn’t go to it once. They didn’t give him a look in the backfield, either. I asked co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell why Finch was relegated to the sidelines once again, especially on a night in which the offense struggled to make plays. “We have a lot of playmakers that can do a lot with the ball,” Norvell said. “Roy is going to have to work harder to where he gets himself in the mix.” Evidently, Finch is still not getting it done in practice. Until he does, the Sooners are not going to play him. No matter how many plays he’s made in the past.

• Whaley returned from last year’s broken ankle to mixed results. He ran for 54 yards on 11 carries, but didn’t display the same elusiveness and power that made him one of college football’s best stories in 2011. “I felt great ankle-wise, conditioning-wise,” he said. “But my performance could have been a lot better.” It might take a couple of games for Whaley to find his footing. He started to run harder as the game wore on. That was a positive sign.

• More positive was the play of Whaley’s backup, junior-college transfer Damien Williams, who was OU’s best back on this night. Williams ran for 104 yards on nine carries, including a 65-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. Williams broke tackles, and showed plenty of elusiveness in the open field. “We’re excited to complement Dom with Damien,” Bob Stoops said.

• The Sooners brought back the “Diamond” formation after a one-year hiatus. The formation, which was so effective late in 2010, was shelved last season. But offensive coordinator Josh Heupel reintroduced the package, this time using fullbacks Trey Millard and Jaydan Bird and either Whaley or Damien Williams. The Sooners caught UTEP off-guard on playaction off the package, as Jones hit Stills on a post pattern inside the Miners 5. Whaley, however, was flagged with a chopblock, wiping out the play. “I saw a defender who outweighed me,” Whaley said, “so I decided to go for the chop.” Guard Adam Shead was still engaged with the defender, though, resulted in the penalty. It will be interesting to see how much the Sooners use the Diamond going forward. But if it can augment what was an inconsistent running game Saturday, it should become a mainstay.

• Three times when the game was still in doubt, the Sooners turned to Belldozer on third-and-short. Three times, the Sooners got first downs. Bob Stoops said he would have liked to use the Belldozer more, but because of the inconsistency of the offense, OU rarely was in third-and-short. More times, the Sooners were in third-and-long. For the Belldozer to be utilized, OU has to do more on first and second down.

• OU was awful early on in its perimeter blocking on the bubble screens. For those plays to work, Justin Brown and Trey Metoyer can’t whiff on cornerbacks. A couple of times, that got Whaley clocked. Eventually, that will lead to turnovers and injuries.

• The Sooners added a new wrinkle to the offensive play-calling: placards. Unlike Oregon, which is quite creative in its placards to signal in plays, OU’s were quite ordinary, using only numbers and colors. I’m not sure if the placards slowed down OU’s offensive tempo. But if they did, they need to be revisited. When the Sooners were going fast, they moved the ball. When they weren’t, they didn’t.

• UTEP’s Nathan Jeffery nearly became the first back to rush for more than 200 yards against OU since Missouri’s Brad Smith in 2002. Jeffery, who also returned the blocked punt for a TD in the first quarter, was sensational, finishing with 177 yards on 21 carries. "I'm disappointed we didn't play the run game better," said defensive coordinator Mike Stoops. "We bent a little, but we didn't give up any points. It's good to be tested. We don't have to hear everybody telling us how good we are." Otherwise, though, the defense was pretty stout. The secondary, which was spectacular, didn’t give up any big pass plays, and outside Jeffery's 71-yard run, the defense made UTEP earn its way down the field. Welcome back, Mike Stoops.

• The unsung play of the game? Caleb Gastelum’s tackle on UTEP’s fake punt in the fourth quarter. That all but sealed OU’s win.

• Despite the hype of this freshmen class, very few made it onto the field. CB Gary Simon, LB Eric Striker and DE Michael Onuoha all watched this game from the sidelines. Defensive end Charles Tapper didn’t get in until late in the game. Running back Alex Ross made the trip, but didn’t play either. He’s a strong redshirt candidate. The three freshmen who did play – WRs Trey Metoyer, Durron Neal and Sterling Shepard -- made little impact. Neither Neal nor Shepard recorded a catch in limited action. Despite his sterling spring, Metoyer struggled to assimilate into the offense. He finished with four catches for 21 yards. Metoyer did make a circus catch along the sideline that would have resulted in a TD, but he couldn’t get the first foot in bounce. “The timing was bad,” he said. “We just weren’t connecting.” Honestly, this should have been expected. Jones’ rapport with his freshmen and Penn State transfer Justin Brown will improve. Developing chemistry only comes through playing games together.

• Speaking of Brown, while he didn’t very involved in the offense (4 catches, 32 yards) he flashed off his potential as a punt returner. Breaking tackle after tackle, Brown weaved his way through the UTEP coverage for a 26-yard punt return. Brown has the potential to go the distance at any time. The Sooners have needed more breakaway threats on special teams. Brown appears to be just that.

• You have to admire how hard David King played in his first start at defensive tackle. With Casey Walker and Stacy McGee both in Norman, King carried the line by disrupting UTEP’s pass protection with his quickness. Play after play, Miners QB Nick Lamaison had to back peddle then throw the ball away because King and others were in his face. Despite never coming off the field, King played a spirited game all night, finishing with three tackles, including one for loss that forced UTEP to settle for a field goal attempt on its first drive. King also had a game-high two QB hurries. UTEP had success running Jeffrey up the middle, but a lot of that transpired because OU’s ends and linebackers didn’t close on the bend-back run quickly enough. OU’s d-line is hurting for depth. Think about where they’d be without King, and his ability to swing to tackle in a pinch.


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At the advent of two-a-days, defensive coordinator Mike Stoops lauded Oklahoma’s depth at linebacker. Nothing in the last three weeks has changed his mind. After starters Tom Wort and Corey Nelson, the Sooners have been using seniors Jaydan Bird and Joseph Ibiloye. But the development of sophomores Frank Shannon and Aaron Franklin and true freshman Eric Striker has the staff feeling comfortable going three- and four-deep at the position.

[+] EnlargeMike Stoops, Tim Kish
J.P. Wilson/Icon SMI First-year assistants Mike Stoops (left) and Tim Kish like their depth at linebacker.
“They're getting a lot of reps right now,” linebackers coach Tim Kish said. “They're making good progress. Neither (Shannon nor Franklin) really has a snap on defense when the lights are on. But they're working really hard as a group.

“We expect them to be game-ready.”

Shannon has been rotating in at middle linebacker, while Franklin and Striker have been working at weak-side.

Kish has been especially bullish on Striker, who will not redshirt this season. At worst, Striker is expected to be a big part of OU’s special teams units.

“He's just a football player,” Kish said. “He's got great instincts out there. He practices a hundred miles an hour. He's got a great attitude towards the game. He's energetic. He has that outwardly passion for the game. Where I've got maybe some quiet guys in the group, that maybe are a little more reserved that way, he's kind of loud. I think that makes him stand out with the rest of the guys.

“He just lacks experience right now. He's kind of swimming, which is to be expected of any freshman playing his position. It'll come around for him. He'll have a special teams role in the beginning, and we'll keep developing him as a linebacker. You never know how fast things can change. There will be a time during the fall where the light will really come on and he'll start seeing the pieces fit together.”
When middle linebacker Tom Wort has been healthy, he’s usually been a standout. Early last season against Florida State, Wort came up huge in a 23-13 win. He finished with eight tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and a critical interception that killed a Seminoles drive.

[+] EnlargeTom Wort
AP Photo/Sue OgrockiTom Wort had 71 tackles for the Sooners in 2011.
Wort, however, soon encountered a number of injuries, including to his back, ankle and shoulder. Those ailments have carried into this preseason.

“He’s not 100 percent healthy, but we can’t use that as an excuse for him,” said linebackers coach Tim Kish. “It’s not anything surgery wise, it’s just stuff that’s got to heal. And it’s tough to heal when you’re going through camp.”

Kish has been alternating in Jaydan Bird and Frank Shannon at middle linebacker, while trying to get Wort ready for the season. But only a few days into camp, Kish wants to keep Wort as healthy as possible.

“We’re trying to give everybody equal reps to keep him fresh,” Kish said. “At the same time, he needs those reps, so it’s a fine line to how much you involve him in the camp.

“He’s got all kinds of nicks and that’s typical for what you have as a football player. We’re trying to balance that and manage that for him. It’s like the pitcher for the (Washington) Nationals (Stephen Strasburg) – you’re only going to give him so many innings.”

Practice Report: Stoops praises Brown 

August, 7, 2012
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Wide receiver Justin Brown spoke with the media for the first time since transferring from Penn State. Brown flew in to Norman on Monday night, and was on the practice field Tuesday. Even though he wasn’t in pads with the rest of the team, Bob Stoops praised Brown effusively.

“He looked very impressive,” Stoops said. “I said to (wide receivers coach Jay) Norvell, ‘Wow, he going to be special here.’ ”

Stoops also said that Brown “absolutely” would return punts this season, and called him one of the top 10 punt returners in the country in 2011.

[+] EnlargeTom Wort
AP Photo/Orlin WagnerJunior linebacker Tom Wort has been fighting through various ailments during preseason practice.
Brown said it was “difficult” to leave his teammates at Penn State, but he’s excited to be at a tradition-rich school like OU with a quarterback who can sling the ball like Landry Jones. You could tell that Brown is fired up to play with a QB with Jones’ arm.

Per NCAA rules, Brown will be in shorts and shirts again tomorrow, then will be able to put on the pads.

More on Brown later.

• LB coach Tim Kish said that Tom Wort is less than 100 percent – not a good sign considering the Sooners have been in pads only a couple of days. Wort is battling an array of injuries, including to his back, shoulder and ankle – all injuries that Wort has dealt with in the past. Kish said he’s giving Jaydan Bird equal reps to try and keep Wort as fresh as possible.

Wort has been terrific when he has been healthy. He dominated the game against Florida State last season. But too often, Wort hasn’t been 100 percent. It’s looking like he might have to play hurt this season.

Right now, Kish is working Wort, Bird, Frank Shannon and Caleb Gastulem at middle linebacker, and Corey Nelson, Joe Iblioye, Aaron Franklin and true freshman Erik Striker at outside linebacker. Kish said that Striker would not be redshirting this season, and could play a lot of special teams. “He’s tough, physical,” Kish said.

• Bobby Jack Wright noted that seniors David King and R.J. Washington are having “a heck of a camp” so far. “I’m really pleased with them,” Wright said. But most of today’s discussion dealt with the younger players.

Wright said that Chuka Ndulue "has separated himself" as the clear No. 3 defensive end behind starters Washington and King. Ndulue came on late in the season last year and clearly applied himself in the offseason. He's relatively new to football but the Sooners feel really good about his upside and he seems to be starting to realize some of that potential.

Wright also said he wants to play true freshmen Charles Tapper and Mike Onuoha. In talking with Wright, Washington and others, those two are among the most talented players at the position. Even more impressive for Tapper, he didn’t even work out with the Sooners over the summer. Clearly, both guys have talent, so it will be the little things that decide if they play themselves out of a redshirt season. Either way, the future is bright at defensive end.

Wright also had glowing things to say about P.L. Lindley and Rashod Favors, who have moved to end from linebacker. He said the move had to do with their speed -- it's average for linebackers but excellent for defensive ends. He likes what they bring to the table.

It's pretty clear that Lindley, Favors and junior-college transfer Chaz Nelson are battling to be the Sooners No. 4 defensive end, but Tapper and Onuoha have the ability to make a run. The overall depth at the position is looking pretty good right now. Especially for a team replacing two NFL draft picks.

Aaron Colvin is pumped about his return to cornerback. It's the position he prefers to play and he said it feels more natural at that spot. He did note that he will do whatever is asked. In other words, he's not digging his heels in about remaining at the position. But he wants to be a corner. Said he wishes his teammates still referred to “Colvin Island,” which they termed when Colvin played the position as a freshman. He wants the one-on-one challenge.

Colvin is a difference maker at any position he plays. Don't be surprised if he joins Demontre Hurst to battle Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert and Brodrick Brown and Texas' Carrington Byndom and Quandre Diggs for the right to be called the Big 12's top cornerback duo. This is a great year in the Big 12 for corners.

• Colvin, like pretty much every other Sooner who has been asked, had glowing things to say about Sterling Shepard. "He's the real deal," Colvin said.


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SoonerNation’s Crimson Countdown came to a close today with the final evaluation of defensive end Chuka Ndulue. The player-by-player look at OU’s roster, from No. 1 Tony Jefferson to No. 98 Ndulue, reveals some interesting realities within the program.

Here are three things we learned from the Crimson Countdown:

Evaluation is critical

Aaron Colvin wasn’t a top-50 prospect out of Owasso, Okla./Owasso but he has performed like one. He made an immediate impact at cornerback, starting as a true freshman in his first-ever Red River Rivalry. As a sophomore, he was one of the Sooners' top players at safety. This season, he’s poised to help solidify the corner spot opposite Demontre Hurst.


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Crimson Countdown: LB Jaydan Bird 

June, 29, 2012
6/29/12
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During the summer months, SoonerNation will take a closer look at each scholarship player on Oklahoma’s roster in our Crimson Countdown series. We'll analyze each player’s impact on the program since he arrived on campus, his potential impact this fall and his long-term impact. Starting with No. 1 Tony Jefferson, the daily series will go in numerical order until our final analysis of No. 98 Chuka Ndulue.

No. 55 Jaydan Bird
Linebacker, 6-foot-2, 236 pounds

Impact so far: Bird has made a contribution on special teams during his first three seasons at OU. He has 29 tackles, including 3.5 tackles for loss and one sack in 39 games played with zero starts.


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Jake Trotter answers readers’ questions about Oklahoma football in his mailbag every Friday. Got a question for Jake? Submit it here.

Sean Cowan in Neodesha, Kan., writes: I haven't heard much on running back Dominique Whaley, has he fully recovered? And how well do you think he will do this coming year?

Jake Trotter: Whaley (who fractured his ankle last season) isn’t fully recovered, but he has been doing some light jogging in practice, which is an excellent sign he’ll be ready to go for next season. Initially, I was skeptical about how big of an impact Whaley would be able to make next season coming back from such a horrific injury. That skepticism is washing away.


A.J. in Long Beach, Calif., writes: I saw that Torrea Peterson is on the spring roster. Does that mean he is officially reinstated to the team?

Jake Trotter: I’ve been led to believe that this is the case. Peterson has some work to do before his status is completely solidified. But for now, he remains a member of the team.


Chad in Edmond, Okla., writes: Prediction on starting TE first game? Will Latu at LT? If so, does he start? If not, where does he play and does he start?

Jake Trotter: I think there’s little question that Brannon Green will be OU’s opening day tight end. Tony Jefferson remarked this week that Green has been most impressive of all the newcomers. Lane Johnson is going to be the starting left tackle. Latu could play right tackle if he proves to be better than Daryl Williams or Tyrus Thompson, but my guess is that he’ll start out backing up Johnson on the left side.


Carter in Oklahoma City writes: With the decision of Kellen Jones to transfer, what does this do to OU's depth chart not only this spring but going into the fall at LB?

Jake Trotter: It does very little to the immediate depth chart. Senior Jaydan Bird was going to back up Tom Wort at middle linebacker either way. Kellen Jones could have emerged as No. 2 at weak-side linebacker behind Corey Nelson, but he would have played very little. Where Jones’ transfer hurts is 2014. Wort and Nelson will be gone, and Jones seemed like the most promising of all the young linebackers.
The Sooners are set at linebacker for the next two years. But first-year position coach Tim Kish’s reputed recruiting prowess will soon be put to the test.

[+] EnlargeTim Kish
Chris Morrison/US PresswireTim Kish was known as a solid recruiter at Arizona, and he will need to start off with a bang for 2013.
Kellen Jones, OU’s most promising young linebacker, has elected to transfer and already has been granted his release. Sources say Jones enjoyed his time in Norman, but the coaches he was closest to -- Brent Venables, Willie Martinez and Ryan Reynolds -- left the staff after the Insight Bowl, prompting the rising sophomore from Houston to consider the transfer.

With OU’s top four linebackers all being upperclassmen, it will be crucial that Kish restocks the position with quality in the upcoming recruiting class. Middle linebacker Tom Wort and weak-side linebacker Corey Nelson are both juniors. Joe Ibiloye, who is the favorite to start at nickelback, and OU’s most experienced reserve, Jaydan Bird, are seniors.

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Chat leftovers: Linebacker depth chart

February, 29, 2012
2/29/12
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SoonerNation writer Jake Trotter chatted with readers Monday. Here's the full transcript. If you didn't get your question answered, send it to Jake's mailbag to be published on Friday.

Here are a few highlights from the chat:

Donnie (Oklahoma): Shouldn't we go to the traditional 4-3 instead of the 4-2-5? I always felt the D was better in that formation.

Jake Trotter: 4-2-5 more effectively combats the spread, which is rampant in the Big 12. Why go to a defense that is better suited to stopping an offense (pro set) that nobody runs anymore?

Pete (Tulsa): What is the LB depth chart?

Jake Trotter: Tom Wort and Corey Nelson at MLB and WLB, with Jaydan Bird backing up Wort. Kellen Jones can back up either. Then you have a bunch of other guys like Frank Shannon, Rashod Favors, PL Lindley, Aaron Franklin fighting for time.

camjeezy (okc): Why do so many guys sign with Texas to never be heard of again? Do you think defensive recruits will more likely to sign if the defense has a great year? Does it really mean anything if a recruit verbally commits this year...before their senior season..?

Jake Trotter: Texas' talent problem stems largely from this very thing. The Horns fill out their entire class without even seeing how these kids develop as seniors. The margin for error widens. That's why it's risky to take in so many early verbals.

Adam (Kentucky): Do you think Landry Jones is a first round pick in 2013?

Jake Trotter: Yes. He probably would have been this year, despite a poor end to the season.

Derrin (Plano, TX): Agree or Disgree? Ronnell Lewis could unstoppable in the NFL as a 3-4 OLB, but struggle as 4-3 defensive end.

Jake Trotter: He's definitely a better fit as a 3-4 OLB.

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