Oklahoma Sooners: Marcus Green

Oklahoma began its spring practices last weekend with back-to-back practices Saturday and Sunday. The Sooners get back to work today with an eye on capturing another Big 12 title under Bob Stoops. Here are some things to watch this spring:

Offensive returner ready to take next step: Sophomore running back Keith Ford could be ready to take the next step in the Sooners' offense. OU needs someone to fill the void left by departed running backs Brennan Clay, Damien Williams and Roy Finch, who combined for 4,824 career rushing yards in crimson and cream. Ford earned himself some carries as a freshman, but fumble troubles put him in the doghouse for a portion of his first season. This spring, Ford could lock down a major role in the offense with his power, decisiveness and quickness.

[+] EnlargeAhmad Thomas
Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY SportsAhmad Thomas' blend of size and athleticism makes him a candidate to step in at safety as a sophomore.
Defensive returner ready to take the next step: Safety Ahmad Thomas didn’t get major time on the Sooners' defense as a freshman. But the versatile defensive back appears poised to become a key piece of OU’s defensive plan as a sophomore. At 6-foot and 218 pounds, Thomas brings terrific size, athleticism and aggressiveness to the Sooners secondary. If he continues to improve and develop, he could be too good to leave on the sidelines, forcing defensive coordinator Mike Stoops to find ways to get him involved.

Redshirt freshman to watch: Defensive tackle Charles Walker was an unknown with an underwhelming offer list when he signed with OU in February 2013. But Walker was one of the guys who repeatedly earned praise during discussions of scout-team stars last fall. At 6-2 and 289 pounds, Walker moves like a much smaller man and could force his way onto the field with his play this spring and provide young, quality depth along the defensive line.

Most significant position battle: The battle to replace two-time All-Big 12 cornerback Aaron Colvin should be entertaining. There is no clear favorite among a group of talented cornerbacks that includes Stanvon Taylor, Cortez Johnson and Dakota Austin. This spring provides the opportunity for someone to step up in Colvin’s absence and become a trustworthy cover man on the perimeter of OU’s defense. If that doesn’t happen, the Sooners could be forced to account for a weak link in the secondary, particularly if none of the freshman arrivals in the summer (Tito Windham, Jordan Thomas, Marcus Green) proves they can slide into Colvin’s spot.

Key midterm enrollee: Linebacker Devante Bond already is making an impression during his short time at OU. An outside linebacker with pass rush skills, Bond isn’t going to replace Eric Striker in the Sooners lineup. Yet if he proves to be one of the best pass rushers on the squad this spring, Stoops could pair him with Striker to give Big 12 quarterbacks headaches this fall.

Question that could be answered: Will Trevor Knight build on his Sugar Bowl MVP performance? The sophomore ended his first season with a bang, leading OU to a upset win over Alabama. This spring will show if Knight is hungry for more and striving to play at a championship level every Saturday this fall, or if he could return to the inconsistency that hampered his play in 2013.

Question that won’t be answered until fall: Who will get the majority of the carries in OU’s backfield this fall? Even if Ford has an exceptional spring, there’s no guarantee he can hold off the talents of incoming freshmen Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine in the summer. The lone certainty is that there will be a bunch of talented options for running backs coach Cale Gundy.

OU spring position battles: No. 2

February, 27, 2014
Feb 27
11:00
AM ET
Spring football provides the opportunity for players to put themselves in the driver’s seat when it comes to position battles. Several Oklahoma Sooners will have the chance to make themselves the favorite to start or become a significant contributor during spring drills with several starting spots open heading into 2014. This week we’ll review the top five position battles to keep an eye on this spring, continuing with cornerback.

No. 2: Cornerback

Why it’s important: The Sooners need someone to step into Aaron Colvin’s starting spot. Colvin was one of the Big 12’s top cover men in the past two seasons and helped a young defense exceed expectations in 2013. Replacing the three-year starter is easier said than done and the Sooners’ defensive system counts on its defensive backs to be able to hold their own in coverage.

Competitors

[+] EnlargeCortez Johnson
Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY SportsCortez Johnson provides some experience in the secondary.
Junior Cortez Johnson: The Arizona transfer brings size (6-foot-2, 201 pounds) and he started two games in 2013. He’s the most experienced cornerback in the competition.

Sophomore Stanvon Taylor: He started one game as a true freshman but will need to take his game to another level if he hopes to step into Colvin’s spot. He was groomed to be the guy but it won’t be given to him.

Sophomore Dakota Austin: He plays with a chip on his shoulder and has strong coverage skills but his lack of size (5-foot-11, 151 pounds) will always be a burden.

Summer arrivals

Freshman Tito Windham: The Sooners might have found a hidden gem in SEC country with the Mississippi native. He has the physical tools to insert himself into the competition.

Freshman Jordan Thomas: OU swooped in late to land Thomas but the key will be how quickly he transitions to college football. He’s a versatile defensive back who can play multiple positions.

Freshman Marcus Green: He could end up at cornerback, nickelback or safety in the Sooners’ system so it could take a while for him to settle in at one spot.

Potential outcomes

Best-case scenario: The Sooners use the spring to find a capable replacement, even if that means shuffling around the current secondary. Or Taylor rises to the occasion and locks down the position during the spring. He was Colvin’s protégé, has exceptional talent and probably the highest upside of any cornerback on campus.

Worst-case scenario: Johnson, Taylor and Austin have a competition that drags into the summer with none of them giving the Sooners confidence they can handle the starting spot. That would force the Sooners to search for ways to solidify the cornerback spot, which will be critical if they hope to have any success this fall.
Did the Sugar Bowl never end?

It sure seems like it as Oklahoma rode the momentum from its 45-31 win over Alabama in the Allstate Sugar Bowl to a stellar finish in its recruiting class. Nine Sooners signees committed during the month following the Sugar Bowl including ESPN 300 running back Joe Mixon (Oakley, Calif./Freedom), ESPN 300 athlete Michiah Quick (Fresno, Calif./Central East) and ESPN300 safety Steven Parker II (Jenks, Okla/Jenks).

OU finished as strong as any program in the nation, landing Quick, Parker, offensive tackles Kenyon Frison (West Valley City, Utah/Granger) and Orlando Brown Jr. (Duluth, Ga./Peachtree Ridge), along with cementing the commitment of Courtney Garnett (New Orleans/St. Augustine) in the final two days.


Here are some news and notes from signing day including my take on what it could mean for the program:

[+] EnlargeBlake Bell
AP Photo/Darron CummingsBlake Bell will move to tight end, as Trevor Knight is entrenched as Oklahoma's starting quarterback.
In case you missed it, quarterback Blake Bell is moving to tight end and former Texas Tech signal caller Baker Mayfield has enrolled and is walking on to the Sooners’ squad. OU coach Bob Stoops confirmed both bits of news during his press conference on Wednesday.

Chatmon’s take: Both things were expected but it leaves a void behind Trevor Knight heading into 2014. Normally it wouldn’t seem like a big deal to have two freshmen, Cody Thomas and Justice Hansen, battling to back up Knight, but Knight got knocked out of two different games as a redshirt freshman and he only started five total games during the year. Thomas and Hansen are talented but inexperienced, meaning OU could be one play from seeing its national title hopes derailed by an injury to a quarterback who got knocked out of 40 percent of the games he started in 2013. Uh, oh.


---

Bill Bedenbaugh needs a raise.

During his first full recruiting cycle as the offensive line coach at OU, Bedenbaugh landed an exceptional group of offensive lineman including a pair of four-star prospects in center Alex Dalton (Troy, Ohio/Troy) and guard Natrell Curtis (Phoenix/Mountain Pointe). And Bedenbaugh did work down the stretch landing Brown, who flipped from Tennessee in the surprise of signing day, and Frison, who was committed to Utah before inking with OU.

“The more I watch them, the more excited I get about these kids,” Bedenbaugh said.

While he signed a large group of talented guys, Bedenbaugh is most pleased by the toughness of this group.

“You can’t overlook toughness,” Bedenbaugh said. “There are a lot of big, athletic guys out there that may not have the toughness you’re looking for and a lot of those guys don’t pan out.”
Chatmon’s take: A terrific group at a need position. It’s hard to imagine a better class in Bedenbaugh’s first recruiting cycle, and it’s a group with several players who have the versatility to play multiple positions. OU doesn’t need immediate help along the offensive line, but don’t be surprised if one or two of these guys show up on the depth chart in 2014.

---


Along with offensive line, the Sooners needed to address the secondary in this year’s class. Parker is the headliner of a group of versatile secondary players. With the range of a safety and the cover skills of a cornerback, Parker should be able to play immediately for Mike Stoops’ defense.

“He brings a different element to the safety position that a lot of players just can’t,” Mike Stoops said. “His mobility, skill level and cover ability, he fits perfect in our system.”

Stoops feels like OU secured two cover cornerbacks in Tito Windham (Gulfport, Miss./Harrison Central) and Jordan Thomas (Klein, Texas/Klein Collins) along with a versatile prospect in Cedar Hill (Texas) cornerback Marcus Green and a physical presence in DeSoto (Texas) safety Vontre McQuinnie.

Chatmon’s take: Parker is an ideal fit and should make an immediate impact. He’s too talented to remain on the sidelines. The overall versatility of these five defensive backs really stands out, with McQuinnie as the lone guy who likely wouldn’t be a good fit at cornerback in OU’s system. In the Big 12 that versatility is critical because the Sooners will have the ability to put its safeties on the Big 12’s top slot receivers and have the confidence they can hold their own in coverage without being exposed.

State of the position: Nickelback

January, 29, 2014
Jan 29
11:00
AM ET
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 Wednesday, we take a closer look at the nickelback position.

[+] EnlargeJulian Wilson
Wesley Hitt/Getty ImagesJulian Wilson quietly had an outstanding season for OU.
Starter/contributors: Julian Wilson (Sr.)

The most underrated playmaker on the defense, Wilson raised his game to another level as a junior while few people noticed. He started 11 games, finishing with 26 tackles, including 4.5 tackles for loss and three interceptions. His Bedlam pick went unnoticed but was a key play which set up Michael Hunnicutt's touchdown that tied the game in the third quarter. He didn’t dominate but he more than held his own as a valuable piece of the Big 12’s top pass defense.

On the cusp: L.J. Moore (So.)

Moore saw very little time as a true freshman, playing during the Sooners’ nonconference schedule and recording one tackle against Tulsa. He needed a year in the program to add strength and get comfortable with the demands of playing in the secondary but brings good size, versatility and competitiveness to the table in 2014.

On the recruiting trail: Marcus Green (Cedar Hill, Texas/Cedar Hill)

Green’s size (6-foot-1, 176 pounds), athleticism and physicality make him a good fit for the nickelback spot, but he could play all three positions in OU’s secondary much like Gabe Lynn did during his time at OU. He’s not a shutdown corner but he’s a very versatile prospect.

Overall Grade: B

Wilson takes this grade higher than average with his experience and playmaking bringing a veteran presence to the position. Moore and Green bring two versatile, young prospects to the position, giving OU a veteran presence and hope for the future. Inexperience behind Wilson is the lone concern.

OU-Texas: 2014 recruiting tale of the tape 

October, 10, 2013
10/10/13
12:06
PM ET
When the Red River Rivalry is played, records are thrown out the window. When the game’s over, some love looking into the future to play “what if” with the next batch of talented college players.

While both teams have some room to land uncommitted recruits, both are pretty happy with where they are currently. Texas has 24 commits, and Oklahoma has 14, and when comparing ESPN 300 athletes, Texas only has a 7-5 lead.

Which team has the Red River Rivalry recruiting edge this year? Here’s a breakdown of eight positions and which team holds the edge for now.

Quarterback

Perhaps the most competitive comparison between the schools is at quarterback. ESPN 300s Justice Hansen (Edmond, Okla./Santa Fe) and Jerrod Heard (Denton, Texas/Guyer) are the nation’s No. 4 and No. 5 dual-threat quarterbacks. Hansen is the Sooners’ top-ranked commit and has proven himself a first-class leader of the class. Heard already has one state championship ring, and he’s hoping for a repeat performance in December before arriving at the Forty Acres.

Advantage: Oklahoma

Dallis Todd
Erik McKinney/ESPNOklahoma will get 6-foot-5 playmaker Daliis Todd in its 2014 class.
Running back

There are high expectations for both ESPN 300 Samaje Perine (Pflugerville, Texas/Hendrickson) and Donald "Duke" Catalon (Houston/Eisenhower). Perine is a physical specimen with the combination of power and finesse at 6-foot and 213 pounds. Catalon, at 5-10 and 193 pounds, has the agility and overall balance to make him a potential every-down back. Texas also has three-star Kevin Shorter (Newton, Texas/Newton), a player who plays with a chip on his shoulder, looking to show that he should be mentioned with the elite talent.

Advantage: Texas

Wide receiver

Neither Texas nor Oklahoma will be complaining about their receiver crop. The Longhorns have an ESPN 300 player in Armanti Foreman (Texas City, Texas/Texas City), a rising star in Emanuel Porter (Dallas/Lincoln) and a player in Garrett Gray (Marble Falls, Texas/Marble Falls) who caught 13 passes for 293 yards and five touchdowns in a game last year. Oklahoma has size and athleticism in 6-5, 210-pound ESPN 300 receiver Dallis Todd (La Mirada, Calif./La Mirada) and a 6-7, 180-pound end zone threat in Jeffery Mead (Tulsa, Okla/Union)

Advantage: Texas

Tight end

Oklahoma has done well with recruiting tight ends and was able to land ESPN 300 players Carson Meier (Tulsa, Okla./Union) and Mark Andrews (Scottsdale, Ariz./Desert Mountain). Meier is the No. 5 Y-tight end in the country, while Andrews is the No. 8 H-tight end. Texas also has a good one in junior college pledge John Thomas (Bossier City, La./Trinity Valley Community College). At 6-6 and 255 pounds, Thomas can be used as both a reliable blocker and receiver.

Advantage: Oklahoma

Offensive line

It’s hard to believe that between the two schools, only three offensive linemen are committed.

Sooners commit Alex Dalton (Troy, Ohio/Troy) is considered one of the nation’s top centers, and guard Jonathan Alvarez (Mesquite, Texas/Horn), with his work ethic alone, will surprise a lot of people in a couple of years. Texas, like Oklahoma, has a four-star center committed in Terrell Cuney (Jasper, Texas/Jasper). Cuney is a player who might see immediate playing time as a freshman.

Advantage: Texas

Defensive line

Big 12 recruiting storylines: Sept. 19 

September, 19, 2013
9/19/13
2:00
PM ET


It’s another week of college football, and eyes will be focused on several different things. Can Texas get out of its defensive funk? Will Baylor add more firepower to its already-loaded class? Can Kansas State return to its Big 12 champion ways? Will the world hear commitment announcements from any ESPN 300 players following official visits?

Here are some of the Big 12 recruiting storylines for the week:

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

ESPN Junior 300 wide receiver DaMarkus Lodge (Cedar Hill, Texas/Cedar Hill) has some business to tend to on Friday, as his Longhorns play defending Class 5A, Division I state champion Allen.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Make no mistake, Oklahoma recruits are looking forward to playing Texas. The Sooners’ rivalry with the Longhorns brings anticipation and excitement to the minds of several OU commitments.

Yet it has very little to do with their feelings about their burnt orange brethren in Austin.

“The rivalry is a great rivalry,” said Marcus Green (Cedar Hill, Texas/Cedar Hill), the Sooners’ three-star defensive back commit. “They play it down here at the Cotton Bowl. I went to see it and it’s great, the atmosphere, you can tell its a big rivalry between Oklahoma and Texas.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

There are some positions where Oklahoma doesn’t need any help with in its Class of 2014. But then there are others where OU’s targets should be dead-set on trying to improve.

Here are the top five positions of need for OU’s recruiting for the 2014 crop:


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

NORMAN, Okla. -- On the last Tuesday of every month, SoonerNation is going to examine Oklahoma's defensive recruiting situation by taking a look at the Sooners' commits and targets.

Here is an idea of where OU stands for the Class of 2014 heading into July. View the Sooners' full commitment list.

The number in parentheses after every position indicates the number of recruits we project OU to sign at the position.

Defensive End (2)

Committed: None


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Every Friday, SoonerNation releases the Sooner Intel, a sneak peek inside Oklahoma Sooners football recruiting with news and notes on the latest happenings around the program. Talk about it on our forum. A few things discussed in this week's update:

  • A Houston wideout is planning a visit to OU soon. Could he commit?
  • OU commits have put the full-court press on an in-state target.
  • OU commitment changing things for defensive back.
  • A Texas three-star offensive tackle is eyeing a trip to Oklahoma.
  • One of the Sooners' top defensive tackle targets talks about his missed visit.
  • Top 2015 in-state recruits get first look at OU.

Read the Sooner Intel after the jump.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Lessons Learned: Camp of Conquerors 

June, 15, 2013
6/15/13
8:31
PM ET
HornDamon Sayles/ESPNMesquite Horn won the Camp of Conquerors 7-on-7 Tournament.

CEDAR HILL, Texas -- The second annual Mike Adams Camp of Conquerors 7-on-7 tournament featured 13 of the top 7-on-7 teams in the Dallas area on Saturday. The tournament, put on by the NFL defensive back, gives the opportunity to win $5,000 for the winning 7-on-7 program.

Early Saturday evening, Mesquite (Texas) Horn defeated Cedar Hill to walk away with the championship.

Here is what we learned after the event:

Horn WR the talk of the tournament

Horn all spring has shown that it’s more than quarterback Destri White, Rice cornerback commit Jorian Clark and a talented group of linemen that features Baylor commit Andrew Morris and 2015 standout offensive tackle Conner Dyer. On Saturday, Del’Michael High reminded everyone of just how good he is.

High, a 6-foot-2, 180-pound wide receiver, was borderline unstoppable throughout the tournament, and he was a big reason why Horn went undefeated. In the championship game against Cedar Hill, High was able to score wins in several one-on-one battles, some featuring talented Oklahoma cornerback commit Marcus Green.

High hasn’t been on the recruiting radar, but he showed tools of being one of the top receivers in the state on Saturday. He admittedly said that part of his lack of recruiting exposure might be because of academics, but he added that he’s been focused more than ever to make sure his work off the field is as solid as his work on it.

Bishop Dunne DB targets going both ways


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

OU has productive evaluation period 

June, 11, 2013
6/11/13
8:00
AM ET
NORMAN, Okla. -- As recruiting rivals Texas and Texas A&M continue to rack up commitments for the 2014 and 2015 classes, what about Oklahoma?

The Sooners entered the spring evaluation period with just three commits and enter the summer with eight pledges. The OU coaches are preaching patience and not trying to force recruits to commit before they're ready.

NEW COMMITS

Four-star WR Dallis Todd (La Mirada, Calif./La Mirada)
Committed: April 15


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Every Friday, SoonerNation releases the Sooner Intel, a sneak peek inside Oklahoma Sooners football recruiting with news and notes on the latest happenings around the program. Talk about it on our forum. A few things discussed in this week's update:

  • Why the Sooners aren't out of the running for an ESPN 150 wideout."
  • A recruit calls OU "the Alabama of the Big 12."
  • The Sooners are in a great spot for recent junior college visitor.
  • What happens next for OU defensive end/defensive tackle target Brandon Glenn?
  • A Texas DE enjoyed OU's family atmosphere at camp.
  • An OU commit talks about competing in the Sooners' camp.
  • An in-state defensive back is still learning about OU.
  • What happens with the dearth of tight end talent in Oklahoma?

Read the Sooner Intel after the jump.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Tales From the road: Oklahoma 

June, 5, 2013
6/05/13
9:00
AM ET
Every Wednesday the SoonerNation staff will take a quick hit look at some of the top recruits and storylines facing Oklahoma recruiting for the week.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

SPONSORED HEADLINES

College Football Minute: Sept. 22
South Carolina's ever-changing outlook, another huge Saturday for running backs and Cal's trigger-happy email proves costly at the official store. It's all ahead in your College Football Minute.
VIDEO PLAYLIST video