Oklahoma Sooners: OU Crimson Countdown 2014

During the summer, ESPN.com is taking a closer look at each scholarship player on the Oklahoma Sooners' roster in our Crimson Countdown series. Each day, we analyze each player’s impact on the program since arriving on campus, his potential impact this fall, and his long-term projection. Starting with No. 1 Dominique Alexander, the series follows the roster numerically through No. 98 Chuka Ndulue.

No. 74 Adam Shead, guard, 6-foot-4, 339 pounds, senior

Impact thus far: Injuries have handcuffed a promising career yet Shead enters his senior season as one of the Sooners’ most experienced offensive linemen. He’s started 28 games in his career despite nagging injuries. As a redshirt freshman in 2011, he forced his way into the starting lineup as the season progressed, starting five games and playing in nine contests. He started all 13 games as a sophomore then started 10 games in 2013. All the while Shead has dealt with shoulder, knee and back injuries at various points during his career.

Impact in 2014: If healthy, Shead should be a key contributor along the Sooners' offensive front. His health could be a big "if" however, as a back injury forced him to miss the spring game.

Long term upside: Shead had the ability to set the tone with his aggressive nature early in his OU career. Unfortunately for him, an injury-free season has been difficult to achieve. If he somehow returned to his pre-injury form, he has all-conference potential.

Evaluation grade for Shead: A. If he starts a game this fall Shead will be a three-star recruit who started at least one game for four straight seasons at OU. Productive and trustworthy, Shead was a stellar evaluation, the type of recruit the Sooners should strive to secure every single time.

Development grade for Shead: A. Without a redshirt season, Shead would not be around to add to his 28 career starts this fall. Injury or not, it’s unlikely Shead would have made a bigger impact as a true freshman than he can in 2014.
During the summer, ESPN.com is taking a closer look at each scholarship player on Oklahoma’s roster in our Crimson Countdown series. Each day, we analyze each player’s impact on the program since arriving on campus, his potential impact this fall, and his long-term projection. Starting with No. 1 Dominique Alexander, the series follows the roster numerically through No. 98 Chuka Ndulue.

No. 72 Derek Farniok, tackle, 6-foot-9, 329 pounds, junior

Impact thus far: Farniok made his biggest impact with a start against Oklahoma State in the Sooners’ 2013 Bedlam win at Boone Pickens Stadium. In 2011, he redshirted. He played a special teams role as a redshirt freshman in 2012 then played in four games as a sophomore, including the lone start of his career.

Impact in 2014: Farniok should play a backup role at tackle for the Sooners with veterans Tyrus Thompson and Daryl Williams manning the position. He clearly has a ways to go in his development, but his start against the Cowboys was a sign he could contribute this fall and expand his role in 2015.

Long term upside: It all depends on Farniok’s continued development. Even with OU bringing in talented tackles around him, Farniok has the ability to be a contributor if he responds to the competition.

Evaluation grade for Farniok: C. He hasn’t starred, but he hasn’t disappointed either. Farniok enters his junior season with a start under his belt, even though a pair of veterans have stood between him and playing time since he stepped on campus.

Development grade for Farniok: A. OU has given Farniok opportunities to play in a backup role behind Thompson and Williams and even threw him into the mix in short-yardage situations. Can’t really ask for much more from the Sooners’ development approach.
During the summer, ESPN.com is taking a closer look at each scholarship player on Oklahoma’s roster in our Crimson Countdown series. Each day, we analyze each player’s impact on the program since arriving on campus, his potential impact this fall, and his long-term projection. Starting with No. 1 Dominique Alexander, the series follows the roster numerically through No. 98 Chuka Ndulue.

No. 71 Tyrus Thompson, tackle, 6-foot-5, 336 pounds, redshirt senior

Impact thus far: After a redshirt season in 2010 and limited action in 2011, Thompson has been an impact player for the past two seasons, starting 16 games in 2012 and 2013 combined. His versatility is an asset as the senior has played both tackle positions during his time in Norman, Okla.

Impact in 2014: Thompson should be a starter and key player for the Sooners offensive line, bringing experience, athleticism and production to the table during his final season in crimson and cream. It will be important for him to remain healthy throughout the year.

Long term upside: Thompson has all-conference potential if he raises his game to another level and remains healthy in 2014.

Evaluation grade for Thompson: A. When healthy, Thompson is an asset to OU’s offense. And his versatility takes his value to an even higher level. The Texas native stepped on campus as a four-star recruit and he’s met those expectations heading into his senior campaign.

Development grade for Thompson: A. A redshirt season in 2010 was the right decision for Thompson’s future. Now the Sooners get the payoff with a year of production from a savvy, veteran lineman instead of spot duty from a raw freshman in 2010.
During the summer, ESPN.com is taking a closer look at each scholarship player on Oklahoma's roster in our Crimson Countdown series. Each day, we analyze each player's impact on the program since arriving on campus, his potential impact this fall, and his long-term projection. Starting with No. 1 Dominique Alexander, the series follows the roster numerically through No. 98 Chuka Ndulue.

No. 70 Christian Daimler, tackle, 6-foot-7, 300 pounds, redshirt freshman

Impact thus far: Daimler redshirted during his first season on campus.

Impact in 2014: Daimler should play a backup role at tackle for the Sooners with veterans Tyrus Thompson and Daryl Williams manning the position.

Long-term upside: Daimler looks like a guy who can be a contributor for the Sooners but how much he can contribute in his four seasons remains unclear. He saw time at left tackle in the spring game with the Sooners' No. 2 offense, so he could be in line to compete to replace Tyrus Thompson in 2015.

Evaluation grade for Daimler: NA. It's too early to grade Daimler, who hasn't had the chance to play in a game yet. But he is showing early signs that he can be a contributor who develops into a starting-level tackle in the future if his development continues like it should.

Development grade for Daimler: F. Redshirting Daimler was the perfect move. Even though the injury bug hit the Sooners' tackle ranks, to the point they had to shift Bronson Irwin to tackle for the Allstate Sugar Bowl, it was still the right decision to place the redshirt on Daimler, who needed a season in the Sooners strength and conditioning program before he could be considered an option to play.
During the summer, ESPN.com is taking a closer look at each scholarship player on Oklahoma's roster in our Crimson Countdown series. Each day, we analyze each player's impact on the program since arriving on campus, his potential impact this fall, and his long-term projection. Starting with No. 1 Dominique Alexander, the series follows the roster numerically through No. 98 Chuka Ndulue.

No 56 Ty Darlington, center, 6-foot-2, 286 pounds, junior

Impact thus far: He's provided backup depth behind All-Big 12 center Gabe Ikard during his first two seasons in Norman, Oklahoma. Darlington played in nine games (one start) as a true freshman in 2012 then played in three games in 2013.

Impact in 2014: Darlington will battle to replace Ikard at the center spot and has plenty of experience at the position meaning he should, at the very least, provide a quality option. The Sooners will strive to put their best five offensive linemen on the field so Nila Kasitati could also be a option at the center spot in 2014.

Long term upside: Darlington should be a valuable contributor as a starter or quality backup for the next two seasons.

Evaluation grade for Darlington: B. Heading into his third year on campus, Darlington has already made an impact and started a game despite playing behind an all-conference center during both seasons. He hasn't been a major contributor but he provided depth and peace of mind as a underclassman and could rise to starter status this fall.

Development grade for Darlington: B. The only thing the Sooners could have done is play Darlington more during blowout games just to get him added game time and seasoning as he prepared to battle to replace Ikard during preseason camp in August. Outside of those moments, Darlington's development has been solid.
During the summer, ESPN.com is taking a closer look at each scholarship player on Oklahoma’s roster in our Crimson Countdown series. Each day, we analyze each player’s impact on the program since arriving on campus, his potential impact this fall, and his long-term projection. Starting with No. 1 Dominique Alexander, the series follows the roster numerically through No. 98 Chuka Ndulue.

No. 55 Josiah St. John, 6-foot-6, 300 pounds, redshirt junior

Impact thus far: None. St. John redshirted during his first season on campus. A junior college signee, St. John was late to arrive in the summer and never really proved himself ready to impact the Sooners in 2013.

Impact in 2014: OU returns two strong starters in Daryl Williams and Tyrus Thompson, so a rise into the starting lineup would be a surprise. But St. John seems poised to be a solid backup option at tackle this fall.

Long term upside: He could contribute as a backup in 2014, then become a starter in 2015.

Evaluation grade for St. John: F. St. John may end up being a terrific evaluation but the reason to sign a junior college player is to get an immediate impact which hasn’t been the case with St. John. But it would be a surprise if this grade remains an F, particularly after St. John’s improvement since the end of the 2013 campaign.

Development grade for St. John: B. Considering the shuffling the Sooners had to do when the injury bug hit the tackle spot last season, St. John clearly wasn’t ready to make an impact in 2013. Thus, a redshirt season was probably better than just throwing him out there and wasting a season of eligibility. Now they could potentially get a full season of production in 2015 and a quality backup in 2014.
During the summer, ESPN.com is taking a closer look at each scholarship player on Oklahoma’s roster in our Crimson Countdown series. Each day, we analyze each player’s impact on the program since arriving on campus, his potential impact this fall, and his long-term projection. Starting with No. 1 Dominique Alexander, the series follows the roster numerically through No. 98 Chuka Ndulue.

No. 54 Nila Kasitati, guard/center, 6-foot-4, 315 pounds, junior

Impact thus far: Injuries have been the only thing that have really kept Kasitati off the field during his time in Norman, Oklahoma. After a redshirt season in 2011, he was beginning to force himself into the lineup until an early-October ACL injury against Texas Tech as a redshirt freshman forced him to miss the rest of the season. Last season he returned to play in all 13 games including seven starts at right guard.

Impact in 2014: His versatility makes it a near certainty he will be a key member of OU’s offensive line. Kasitati can play center and guard so don’t be surprised to see him line up at either position in 2014 as the Sooners strive to get their top five offensive linemen on the field.

Long term upside: He should be a core member of the offensive line during the next two seasons.

Evaluation grade for Kasitati: A. He wasn’t a five-star recruit but he’s had a significant impact since his redshirt freshman season. Kasitati brings a toughness and aggression to the lineup that helps set the tone for the entire offensive front.

Development grade for Kasitati: A. The Sooners have done a good job with the junior, particularly during his redshirt freshman season when they inserted him into the offensive line rotation before his injury. When he’s healthy, he tends to make an impact for OU.

Crimson Countdown: G Tony Feo

July, 16, 2014
Jul 16
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During the summer, ESPN.com is taking a closer look at each scholarship player on Oklahoma’s roster in our Crimson Countdown series. Each day, we analyze each player’s impact on the program since arriving on campus, his potential impact this fall, and his long-term projection. Starting with No. 1 Dominique Alexander, the series follows the roster numerically through No. 98 Chuka Ndulue.

No. 53 Tony Feo, guard, 6-foot-3, 300 pounds, senior

Impact thus far: A junior college signee, Feo made an impact on special teams during his first year on campus. He played in 12 games as a mainstay on OU’s punt unit, even recording a tackle against Texas Tech.

Impact in 2014: If he doesn’t earn a spot in the rotation, Feo should provide depth at guard and serve as a special teams mainstay for the second-straight season.

Long term upside: At the very least he should contribute on special teams for the second-straight season.

Evaluation grade for Feo: A. A late addition to OU’s Class of 2013, Feo has done exactly what he was brought in to do. The Sooners pursued him to provide depth and protection in case the injury bug crippled the guard position.

Development grade for Feo: B. He played in his first game as a Sooner so the opportunity to play has been given to the California native. And it’s very possible he could see additional time on offense during his final season.
During the summer, ESPN.com is taking a closer look at each scholarship player on Oklahoma’s roster in our Crimson Countdown series. Each day, we analyze each player’s impact on the program since arriving on campus, his potential impact this fall, and his long-term projection. Starting with No. 1 Dominique Alexander, the series follows the roster numerically through No. 98 Chuka Ndulue.

No. 48 Aaron Ripkowski, fullback, 6-foot-1, 257 pounds, senior

Impact thus far: Ripkowski may have made the biggest impact during the Bob Stoops era for a player with one reception for 3 yards and one touchdown during his first three seasons. He’s played a key role in the Sooners offense since his redshirt freshman season. He made an immediate impact as a extra blocker in short-yardage situations during his first two seasons then as a fullback as a junior, particularly after Trey Millard's injury. He’s played in 33 games with eight starts heading into his final season.

Impact in 2014: Expect Ripkowski to be a critical contributor for his fourth straight season. His blocking, durability and production cements his spot in the offense, even with true freshman Dimitri Flowers looking like a key contributor in 2014.

Long-term upside: He will leave Norman as one of the top walk-ons during the Stoops’ era.

Evaluation grade for Ripkowski: C. When you consider his contribution during his time in the program, Ripkowski should have gotten a scholarship from the outset. OU eventually did reward his impact with a scholarship after it was clear he had earned it.

Development grade for Ripkowski: A. As soon as OU recognized Ripkowski could help win games, the Sooners put him on the field. Scholarship or no scholarship, they found a role for him alongside Millard early in his career and he’s rewarded them with stellar production.
During the summer, ESPN.com is taking a closer look at each scholarship player on Oklahoma’s roster in our Crimson Countdown series. Each day, we analyze each player’s impact on the program since arriving on campus, his potential impact this fall, and his long-term projection. Starting with No. 1 Dominique Alexander, the series follows the roster numerically through No. 98 Chuka Ndulue.

No. 44 Jed Barnett, punter, 6-foot-2, 215 pounds, senior

Impact thus far: Barnett became the Sooners’ starting punter during his first season in 2013. He averaged 41.7 yards per punt on 65 punts including 22 punts inside the 20-yard line and 11 punts of 50 yards or more. His 12.3 punts inside the 10-yard line rate ranked second in the Big 12. But his 35.25 net yards per punt average was ninth in the conference.

Impact in 2014: Barnett should continue to be one of the better punters in the Big 12 but his net yards per punt average will need to improve before he can cement his name among the Big 12’s best this fall.

Long term upside: He’s shown the ability to be one of the nation’s top punters if he can improve his net punt average because his accuracy in pinning opponents deep in their own territory is already among the nation’s best.

Evaluation grade for Barnett: A. He’s done exactly what the Sooners recruited him to do. He stepped into the starting punter role and is an asset, particularly when OU is trying to pin their opponents inside their own 25-yard line.

Development grade for Barnett: A. Even though they signed him from the junior college ranks, OU didn’t just hand Barnett the job. He’s won it and never looked back.
During the summer, ESPN.com is taking a closer look at each scholarship player on Oklahoma’s roster in our Crimson Countdown series. Each day, we analyze each player’s impact on the program since arriving on campus, his potential impact this fall, and his long-term projection. Starting with No. 1 Dominique Alexander, the series follows the roster numerically through No. 98 Chuka Ndulue.

No. 40 P.L. Lindley, defensive end, 6-foot-2, 262 pounds, junior

Impact thus far: Lindley has made an impact but has not been a major difference-maker during his first two seasons on the field. Last season saw his biggest impact with 10 tackles and one fumble recovery in 10 games played (two starts). As a redshirt freshman in 2012, Lindley played in seven games as a special teamer and finished with four tackles.

Impact in 2014: Lindley could continue the role he carved out in 2013 as a option for the Sooners with his bulk and strength against run-heavy offenses. He can easily slide into OU’s 3-4 look when the Sooners need to get bigger and stronger, but other players will be vying for that role this fall, so he will have to fight to keep his spot.

Long-term upside: If he wants his role to expand he will need to prove he can excel against any offense, not just offenses looking to run the ball.

Evaluation grade for Lindley: B. Initially brought in as a linebacker, Lindley moved to defensive end as OU looked to get faster and more athletic. He might not have been a great evaluation at linebacker, but he has shown versatility and enters his junior season having started a pair of games as a sophomore which cannot be overlooked.

Development grade for Lindley: A. The move to defensive end has been great for Lindley and the Sooners even though the position is littered with talent. Lindley still fought his way into playing time even if it was a specialized role. He would have been unlikely to do the same if he had remained at linebacker.
During the summer, ESPN.com is taking a closer look at each scholarship player on Oklahoma’s roster in our Crimson Countdown series. Each day, we analyze each player’s impact on the program since arriving on campus, his potential impact this fall, and his long-term projection. Starting with No. 1 Dominique Alexander, the series follows the roster numerically through No. 98 Chuka Ndulue.

No. 39 Nick Hodgson, kicker, 6-foot-2, 198 pounds, senior

Impact thus far: Hodgson’s junior season was the first year he made a significant impact. He became OU’s kickoff specialist under new special teams coach Jay Boulware and excelled in his new role. Hodgson led the Big 12 in touchback percentage (62.3 percent) and yards per kickoff (63.7).

Impact in 2014: There’s no reason to remove Hodgson from his kickoff specialist role, as he’s proved to be among the Big 12’s best with his kickoffs.

Long-term upside: One area of improvement would be his ability to place kickoffs inside the 25-yard line whenever the Sooners want to try to pin teams deep.

Evaluation grade for Hodgson: C. The senior is a walk-on who has made an impact but hasn’t made the Sooners look silly for not offering him a scholarship out of high school. The Sooners generally ask kickers to prove themselves before a scholarship offer is considered, and Hodgson was no different.

Development grade for Hodgson: B. Give OU credit for recognizing Hodgson was the best kickoff specialist on the roster and using him even though Michael Hunnicutt is one of the top kickers in the nation.
During the summer, ESPN.com is taking a closer look at each scholarship player on Oklahoma’s roster in our Crimson Countdown series. Each day, we analyze each player’s impact on the program since arriving on campus, his potential impact this fall, and his long-term projection. Starting with No. 1 Dominique Alexander, the series follows the roster numerically through No. 98 Chuka Ndulue.

No. 36 Dimitri Flowers, fullback, 6-foot-1, 244 pounds, true freshman

Impact thus far: Flowers is an early enrollee who participated in spring football and impressed coaches and teammates with his smooth transition into the program.

Impact in 2014: It would be a surprise if Flowers doesn’t have a significant impact as a true freshman. He was getting first-team reps during the spring and his versatility has drawn comparisons to Trey Millard, a four-year starter in crimson and cream.

Long-term upside: Flowers is so similar to Millard it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him have a similar career as a four-year starter and all-conference level player. Obviously its early to heap those type of expectations on a player who has never played in a game at OU, but Flowers was exceptional during the spring and the Sooners love to utilize players with his skills. Even if he never reaches the heights attained by Millard, he should be an impact player during his career.

Evaluation grade for Flowers: B. The only reason this isn’t an A is because Flowers hasn’t done anything on Saturdays yet, so it’s all based on praise and conjecture to this point. But if he continues on his current path the Sooners will have unearthed another versatile gem, which is not easy to do considering they had to project him into this role.

Development grade for Flowers: NA. It's too early to give a development grade for a player who has never had the opportunity to play in a game. But all signs point to the Sooners throwing him right into the mix this fall.
During the summer, ESPN.com is taking a closer look at each scholarship player on Oklahoma’s roster in our Crimson Countdown series. Each day, we analyze each player’s impact on the program since arriving on campus, his potential impact this fall, and his long-term projection. Starting with No. 1 Dominique Alexander, the series follows the roster numerically through No. 98 Chuka Ndulue.

No. 34 Daniel Brooks, running back, 5-foot-8, 185 pounds, sophomore

Impact thus far: Brooks has never played in a game for the Sooners. He redshirted during the 2012 season after injuring his ACL in high school then didn’t get any playing time as a redshirt freshman in 2013.

Impact in 2014: Brooks will have to force his way onto the field. He's in competition with several talented, young running backs for playing time this fall. There's is minimal experience returning at running back.

Long-term upside: Brooks is talented and showed flashes of ability during the spring game. Nonetheless he faces a tough road to playing time at running back in 2014 and beyond.

Evaluation grade for Brooks: C. Ideally, Brooks would have had some type of impact thus far, even if he just played a role on special teams. After all, several of his fellow 2012 signees are the foundation of OU’s 2014 title hopes, including receiver Sterling Shepard, quarterback Trevor Knight and defensive end Charles Tapper. And several 2013 signees surpassed his productivity in one year on campus. Brooks still has time to make an impact, but he’s clearly looking up at other signees of his class.

Development grade for Brooks: C. The Sooners could have given him a little playing time a year ago, particularly in blowout games, yet chose not to give him playing time. That said, the Sooners have given opportunities to several other players, so the lack of opportunities could fall on Brooks' shoulders as much as anyone else.
During the summer, ESPN.com is taking a closer look at each scholarship player on Oklahoma’s roster in our Crimson Countdown series. Each day, we analyze each player’s impact on the program since arriving on campus, his potential impact this fall, and his long-term projection. Starting with No. 1 Dominique Alexander, the series follows the roster numerically through No. 98 Chuka Ndulue.

No. 29 Rashod Favors, defensive end, 6-foot-1, 253 pounds, senior

Impact thus far: Favors' impact has been minimal during his first four years on campus and featured a position change. After a redshirt season in 2010, he played in one game in 2011 as a linebacker. ... In 2012, he had the lone production of his career with 10 tackles, including 1.5 sacks, in nine games played. ... In 2013, he played in 12 games, largely in a special teams role. He’s played in 22 career games with zero starts heading into his final season in crimson and cream.

Impact in 2014: Expect Favors to play a similar role to 2013 when he saw spot duty on defense and played a special teams role. He should be a contributor but it would be a surprise if he earns a start this fall.

Long term upside: He’s a contributor, not a game changer, but his experience could prove useful as a senior.

Evaluation grade for Favors: D. He’s a contributor, but entering his senior season without a start drops this grade below average. Favors has played in 22 games as a Sooner, which cannot be overlooked, but more is expected from a Sooners’ signee.

Development grade for Favors: C. Favors flashed some pass-rush ability early in his career but wasn’t moved to the defensive line until his junior season. Yet it’s hard to say he hasn’t gotten opportunities because he has gotten some chances on defense, but other players have simply outperformed him.

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