Oklahoma Sooners: John-Phillip Hughes

In the next few weeks leading into signing day it’s a great time to take a position-by-position glance at Oklahoma’s returning roster. This series, called State of the position, will look at the playmakers, up-and-comers and current commitments or targets at each position for the Sooners as recruiting really heats up during these final weeks before signing day on Feb. 5. On Monday, we take a closer look at the offensive guard position.

Starter/contributors: Adam Shead (Sr.), Dionte Savage (Sr.), Nila Kasitati (Jr.)

Shead has been a major contributor since his redshirt freshman season, but various injuries have derailed his career. When healthy he’s a solid option and his experience would be helpful, but it’s hard to build around him with the knowledge that he has had his season cut short by injury in back-to-back years.

Kasitati fought his way into the lineup this season and started seven games in 2013 despite the Sooners returning starters at both guard positions. He brings a nasty streak and athleticism to the offensive interior. He also has a versatility to slide inside to center if needed.

Savage started in the Sugar Bowl and held up well against Alabama’s defensive line. He brings great size to the table and should make the Sooners feel good about their depth at guard heading into the 2014 season.

On the cusp: Tony Feo (Sr.), John-Philip Hughes (Jr.)

Feo and Hughes both contributed on special teams last year and should provide quality depth in 2014. Don’t expect them to force themselves onto the field the way Kasitati did this season, but they can be contributors on special teams and offense.

Sophomore Kyle Marrs could also figure in the mix if he improves during the offseason.

On the recruiting trail: Jonathan Alvarez (Mesquite, Texas/Horn), Natrell Curtis (Phoenix,/Mountain Pointe), Joseph Paul (New Orleans/Saint Augustine)

It’s unlikely any of the three current commitments will secure a role with the Sooners as a true freshman but stranger things have happened and offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh has shown he will put the best players on the field regardless.

Curtis, a four-star prospect, is the highest ranked of the three players and has the highest upside but could use a redshirt season. Paul is an aggressive, physical player who fits very well with OU’s new offensive approach. Alvarez is a more versatile prospect who can project to multiple positions in the mold of Kasitati.

Overall Grade: A

From potential starters to depth, the Sooners look pretty good at the guard position. And OU has three quality commitments who have different strengths and could mesh well together in the future. The only reason this grade is not an A+ is because OU did lose a two-year starter in Bronson Irwin off the Sugar Bowl championship squad.

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