Oklahoma Sooners: Quincy Russell

This 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. 95 Quincy Russell, defensive tackle, 6-foot-4, 310 pounds, senior

Impact thus far: The junior college signee didn’t make much of an impact during his first season in Norman, Oklahoma. He played in two games and finished with three tackles in 2013.

Impact in 2014: There’s no reason to expect Russell to make a major impact this fall with the Sooners’ wealth of talent at the position. Quite frankly, he may have missed his opportunity last season when Jordan Phillips was lost for the year early in the campaign.

Long-term upside: Any contribution will make OU’s depth along the defensive interior even better.

Evaluation grade for Russell: D. More would have been expected from Russell in 2013. As a junior college signee, there are high expectations for an immediate impact and Russell fell short in that regard. Nonetheless, he still has a season to make people forget that disappointing debut.

Development grade for Russell: A. Not much else the Sooners could have done for Russell. He arrived late in the summer of 2013 yet played in OU’s first two games, a sign they wanted to give him the opportunity to make an immediate impact but he didn't seize the opportunity and cement himself in the defensive tackle rotation.
The injury bug has hit Norman, Okla. this spring.

Oklahoma will be without several players during its spring game on Saturday but none of the injuries are major.

Nickelback Julian Wilson, defensive lineman Rashod Favors, defensive tackle Quincy Russell, receiver Sterling Shepard, receiver Durron Neal, tight end Blake Bell, guard Adam Shead, tackle Tyrus Thompson, guard Nila Kasitati and guard Tyler Evans will miss the action due to various injuries but none of them require surgery and head coach Bob Stoops said he expects all of them to return after a short hiatus.

Those injuries have opened the door for several young players on the roster.

“They’re getting more snaps and having to step up,” Stoops said.

Here’s a closer look at how those injuries could open up spring game opportunities for several players on the roster.

[+] EnlargeEric Striker
Robin Alam/Icon SMIOLB Eric Striker has been taking some reps at nickelback this spring.
Wilson: The senior has missed the spring anyway, allowing Ahmad Thomas, Eric Striker and others to get the reps at nickelback. Thomas is showing great versatility and carving himself a role on the defense. Striker, a returning All-Big 12 second teamer, will be on the field regardless, it’s just a matter of where. Both guys get the chance to prove they can fill a variety of roles on Saturday.

Favors: Several young defensive ends including Mike Onuoha are showing good upside this spring and Favors' injury gives them more chances to impress in the spring game. Onuoha was right alongside returning Big 12 first teamer Charles Tapper as the future at the position before a shoulder injury forced him to miss his sophomore season while Tapper starred. He could be hungry to prove he could have made a similar impact. Matt Dimon and D.J. Ward are other young defensive ends who could end up providing quality depth this fall.

Russell: This injury hurts Russell in the race to earn playing time in 2014 and opens up additional opportunities for redshirt freshman Charles Walker to show he’s ready to make an impact in the fall. It also gives the opportunity for another redshirt freshman, Matt Romar, to show Walker isn’t the only youngster looking to force his way into the lineup along a veteran defensive line.

Bell: More than anything Bell’s injury robs us of the opportunity to see the Belldozer play tight end before the fall. And, quite frankly, that’s all anyone is going to think about when it comes to Bell’s absence on Saturday. The overriding question about Bell is not if he can win the starting tight end job, it's can he prove to be one of the best 11 players on offense? That answer will define his playing time and it won't come until the fall.

Shepard and Neal: Redshirt freshman Jordan Smallwood, K.J. Young and Dannon Cavil could have lost all right to complain about a lack of opportunities with these injuries. Don’t be surprised if Smallwood is one of the stars of the spring game, Young is silky smooth and Cavil brings a unique size and athleticism to the receiving corps. Sophomores Derrick Woods and Austin Bennett will also get the chance to shine after limited duty as freshmen in 2013.

Offensive line: Injuries have hammered the offensive line throughout the spring, so being thrown into duty in the spring game will be nothing new for guys like tackle Sam Grant, tackle Christian Daimler and guard Kyle Marrs. They’ll get the chance to get a bunch of reps against a deep defensive line and potentially secure a reputation for themselves before a talented group of offensive line signees arrive in the summer looking to rise past them on the Sooners' depth chart.
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 defensive tackle position.

[+] EnlargeOklahoma
Jackson Laizure/Getty ImagesIf Jordan Phillips can return fully healthy, he will be another big piece on the Sooners interior line.
Starter/contributors: Jordan Wade (So.), Jordan Phillips (Jr.), Chuka Ndulue (Sr.)

The argument could be made that Wade was the best freshman on a Sooners defense that featured Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year Dominique Alexander. Wade stepped in after Phillips was injured and more than held his own as an anchor for OU’s defense, particularly in the final month of the season. He has a big future ahead of him.

Ndulue made a pretty smooth transition to the defensive interior after spending his first two seasons at defensive end. His versatility is an important asset and he brought experienced play to the defense in 2013. Ndulue will continue to be a critical piece in 2014.

If Phillips returns to his September 2013 form, OU’s defense could secure itself a place among the nation’s best. He was a disruptive force who was finally starting to match the hype with production before a back injury derailed his sophomore year.

On the cusp: Charles Walker (redshirt freshman), Matthew Romar (redshirt freshman), Quincy Russell (Sr.), Torrea Peterson (Sr.)

Asked about who impressed during their redshirt season, Sooners coaches and players consistently mentioned Walker. His teammates on OU’s offensive line lauded his explosiveness after going against Walker on the scout team last fall. He could be poised to make an impact.

Romar joins Walker as another guy who could help after a redshirt season. With so many quality options at the position, OU won’t be in a hurry to throw Romar into the fire.

Russell saw spot duty as a junior and never really could secure himself a consistent role on OU’s defense after joining the program in the middle of preseason drills. Nonetheless, he has the ability to be a contributor as a senior.

Peterson played in seven games in 2013, even starting against Iowa State, but never really distanced himself from the competition at the position. He’s a solid guy to have in the fold but hasn’t proven to be irreplaceable with his on-field production.

On the recruiting trail: Brandon Glenn (Irving, Texas/Ranchview)

Glenn may or may not make it on campus with academic concerns standing in his way. But OU has made a hard push for Courtney Garnett (New Orleans/Saint Augustine) and could land the defensive tackle, which would be a clear upgrade on the hype-o-meter.

Realistically it might not matter what happens on the recruiting trail with Walker and Romar appearing to pan out as potential hidden gems in last year’s class and OU’s move to a three-man front.

Overall Grade: A

Three significant returning contributors, multiple others who have played in games and two freshmen with solid upside? The only reason this isn’t a A+ is the lack of a top-notch defensive tackle commitment. This position looks 100 times better right now than it did in late January 2013. Sure seems like defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery deserves a raise.

Big 12 mailbag

November, 22, 2013
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In today’s mailbag, Baylor’s schedule is compared to Ohio State’s, Iowa State fans yearn for the second coming of Bill Snyder and Texas fans want a louder stadium, Tyrone Swoopes at QB and a certain coach to be fired.

To the ‘bag:

[+] EnlargeBryce Petty
AP Photo/LM OteroOklahoma State will need to force some turnovers, but Baylor QB Bryce Petty has thrown just one interception all year.
Brenna in Stillwater, Okla., writes: It doesn’t seem like anyone is giving Oklahoma State a chance against Baylor. I know you predicted Baylor would win, but do you think the Pokes have a legitimate chance to get the win in convincing fashion?

Jake Trotter: The win, yes. But in convincing fashion? That’s asking a lot. That would require Oklahoma State forcing a bunch of turnovers, which the Cowboys have been terrific at. Problem is, Baylor doesn’t turn the ball over. Bryce Petty has thrown just one interception all year. The Cowboys are more than capable of winning this game. I almost picked them. But I don’t see a scenario in which Baylor gets blown out. That offense is just too good to let that happen.

Isaac in Waukee, Iowa, writes: Aside from hiring their own “Wizard” what needs to happen at Iowa State to reach Kansas State's level of consistent success? They seem to be similar schools with agricultural roots, true college towns, isolated from bigger TV markets.

Trotter: Bill Snyder didn’t build K-State in a day. The Wildcats had only one winning season in Snyder’s first four years. Yes, the Cyclones have taken a step back this year. But Paul Rhoads has proven to be a solid coach, underscored by the fact he took the Cyclones to bowls in three of his four years. Iowa State needs to give him more time. Way more time. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither was Manhattan. Neither will Ames.

Josh Brown in Dallas writes: In all these hypothetical debates about Baylor and Ohio State, I hear a lot about both teams playing a weak schedule. But I never hear about the one team they played in common, Buffalo. Ohio State won 40-20, while Baylor was up 56-13 at HALF! Any reason this doesn't get more attention as it is the obvious best point of comparison?

Trotter: I think a more powerful argument favoring Baylor is this: Ohio State has four road wins over teams (Cal, Illinois, Northwestern, and Purdue) who are a combined 0-26 in league play. Contrast that with a potential road win for Baylor at No. 10 Oklahoma State, and the case would be closed, in my opinion. Of course, the Bears have to win that game first.

James Fulton in El Paso, Texas, writes: Jake, with only two games plus a bowl game left, do you see David Ash sitting out the rest of the season? I assume he is eligible for a redshirt, and can come back as a junior next year.

Trotter: Ash would only be eligible for a medical redshirt if doctors didn’t clear him the rest of the season (sitting him while he’s cleared doesn’t count). But assuming he’s not cleared, which is doesn’t look like he will be, then yes, a medical redshirt is a very good possibility.

David in Richmond, Va., writes: During the Kansas-West Virginia game, the announcers kept talking about how many West Virginia players were injured. So I have to wonder, how many players are out for each team in the Big 12?

Trotter: I don’t have enough space here to list every injury for every team. But just about every team in the Big 12 has been hit with major injuries. Texas lost Johnathan Gray, David Ash and Chris Whaley. TCU lost Devonte Fields for the year and Casey Pachall for several games. Oklahoma lost Corey Nelson, Jordan Phillips and Trey Millard. Baylor lost Tevin Reese and now Spencer Drango. Oklahoma State lost Devin Davis during the preseason and has been without Josh Stewart. Texas Tech is missing several key defensive players. Iowa State has been beat up offensively pretty much all year. Injuries are part of football, and West Virginia is hardly exclusive to them.

James in Overland Park, Kan., writes: Will Tyrone Swoopes start for Texas against Texas Tech? Also will Mack Brown be fired after the Baylor game?

Trotter: Swoopes could play more, but McCoy is going to get the start. It’s possible that Brown resigns after the Baylor game, but he’s not going to be fired Lane Kiffin style.

Scott in Edgewater, Md., writes: What does Dana Holgorsen have to do to right the ship? Better recruits? More experience? Better coaches? I understand that the Big 12 is not the Big East, and that we have lost Stedman Bailey, Geno Smith and Tavon Austin. But this is getting unacceptable to me. At what point does Holgorsen have to worry about his job?

Trotter: I don’t think Holgorsen is in danger yet, even after that disappointing performance in Lawrence. The man who hired him (Oliver Luck) is still there, and this was always going to be a rebuilding year. But the Mountaineers better show improvement in 2014, or things could get tense real fast in Morgantown.

 
NORMAN, Okla. -- You’ve waited eight months for this.

There's a combination of excitement and unease among Sooner Nation as Oklahoma hosts Louisiana-Monroe at 6 p.m. (CT) on Saturday, as the season finally gets underway following a disappointing 10-3 campaign in 2012.

Here are three storylines, three players to watch, one reason for concern and a prediction:

Storylines

Everyone is interested to see what Trevor Knight can do. The Sooners’ starting quarterback has never played in a college game yet already has lofty expectations. Teammates rave about his ability to fit the ball into tight spaces but will those risks turn into turnovers at game speed? Or will the freshman phenom just find a way to make plays?

A chance to see how will the defense look this season. After stumbling down the stretch of the 2012 season, defensive coordinator Mike Stoops has made the defense more versatile, but how much of that transformation will we see on Saturday? There’s been plenty of talk of three-man fronts, but it’s quite possible the Sooners keep it simple this weekend.

How will the Sooners use their linebackers? OU must utilize its linebackers better this season. The Sooners went away from using their linebackers in 2012, yet they've vowed to put them on the field more in 2013. It will be hard to live up to that if Corey Nelson, Frank Shannon and the rest of that group aren’t playing at a high level and showing they deserve to be on the field.

Players to watch

Defensive tackle Quincy Russell: The junior-college transfer was the talk of the summer, as his status remained unclear until August. OU badly needs Russell to be an impact player and ramp up the competition at defensive tackle while providing an anchor in the middle. He may not play a major role on Saturday since he’s relatively new to the program, but his first game action may show if he has the potential to make a difference for OU.

Safety Quentin Hayes: Arguably the least talked about new starter on the Sooners’ defense, Hayes could help solidify OU’s secondary if he plays at a high level. While the talk has been about freshman Ahmad Thomas and Hatari Byrd, they’ve been unable to unseat Hayes. The junior has a chance to show all the off-the-field troubles that held him back in the past are behind him, and he’s moving forward as a difference-maker this season.

Defensive end Charles Tapper: The coaches have been raving about the sophomore, who has risen to the top of the depth chart at defensive end. His size, strength and athleticism could make him a pass-rushing demon. His potential has been apparent since he stepped on campus, but it's time to start seeing his upside translate onto the field.

Reason for concern: ULM quarterback Kolton Browning will test OU’s defense early and often. He passed for 3,049 yards and 29 touchdowns in 2012 while leading the Warhawks to a 8-4 regular-season record including a road win at Arkansas. His 74.3 QBR ranked ahead of Georgia’s Aaron Murray, Ohio State’s Braxton Miller and Florida State’s E.J. Manuel in 2012. It will be a terrific early-season quiz to see if OU’s defense has improved.

Prediction: OU 35, ULM 21. After a slow start from the Sooners’ offense, Knight and company finally find their rhythm in the second quarter, scoring two touchdowns. Knight has an up-and-down debut, but his playmaking skills are apparent as he accounts for three touchdowns in his first game as a starter. And here's a prediction from Big 12 blogger Jake Trotter.
NORMAN, Okla. -- It was like a tidal wave.

As the 2012 season came to a close, the Oklahoma defense was battered and bruised by offenses from West Virginia then Oklahoma State then Texas A&M. Yet as the 2013 season approaches, there are reasons to hope for success from the Sooners’ defense, but that hope doesn’t come without concerns. Here’s a look at three reasons for hope and three reasons for concern for the Sooners’ defense this fall.

Hope

More versatile: Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops has repeatedly said his goal is to make the Sooners defense more versatile in 2013. Expect more three-man fronts, more athleticism on the field and more creative use of the Sooners’ personnel in 2013. The key for OU as it transforms into a more versatile defense will be to make sure the defense transforms into a tougher and more aggressive defense as well.

[+] EnlargeAaron Colvin
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireCornerback Aaron Colvin is a proven player who gives the Sooners defense a lot of reason for hope.
Aaron Colvin: The senior cornerback returned to the Sooners after an All-Big 12 season in 2012. If he hadn’t returned, things would look really bleak in OU’s secondary. Now, the Sooners have a proven anchor to lean on during rough times, and Colvin has made a point to increase his leadership as a senior as well with several talented true freshman in the Sooners' defensive backfield.

The defense wasn’t near as bad in 2012 as it may seem: Even in the Sooners’ three losses, the defense shouldn't shoulder all of the blame. Turnovers doomed OU against Kansas State, a lackluster running game hurt them against Notre Dame, and an inability to capitalize in the red zone helped Texas A&M embarrass OU in the Cotton Bowl.

In 2012, opponents averaged 30.4 yards per drive, second in the Big 12 behind TCU, and opposing quarterbacks had a Big 12-worst 108.4 passer efficiency rating, according to ESPN Stats & Info. The Sooners defense had its moments but struggled to stop the run in the final few games, making things look worse than they actually were and catapulting its run defense atop its priority list in 2013. Things could have been a lot worse.

Concern

Lack of experience: Just four starters return to a defense that disappointed last season. The Sooners will, undoubtedly, use multiple true freshman on defense this season with safeties Hatari Byrd and Ahmad Thomas already looking ready to make an impact and other February signees like defensive end Ogbonnia Okoronkwo and linebacker Dominique Alexander putting themselves in position to push for playing time. And junior college defensive tackle Quincy Russell needs to live up to the hype. There will be a learning curve for the newcomers, so the Sooners just have to hope the good outweighs the bad.

Lack of playmakers along the defensive line: Stoops has preached the need for playmakers up front since the spring. OU badly needs someone to emerge along the defensive line. The Sooners’ pass rush was subpar in 2012, and their general lack of aggressiveness led to a Big 12-worst 53 tackles for loss. Russell's arrival brings some hope, and Jordan Phillips is very talented but must not be content to simply be on the field. He needs to strive to dominate. The Sooners have some talented youngsters but no proven game-changers.

Depth and the ability to adapt on the fly: OU will need to create some type of depth to give Stoops options as he tries to stop Big 12 defenses. The Sooners generally rotate their defensive front but could also rotate their linebackers and defensive backs to give those guys opportunities to impress in games, give the starters rest and create a competitive atmosphere each week. Then, as those backups emerge and push for bigger roles, Stoops can come up with various packages to matchup better with Big 12 offenses on a weekly basis or even during games.

Opening camp: Oklahoma Sooners

August, 1, 2013
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Oklahoma is one of three Big 12 teams to open up camp today. With grass and sweat officially in the air, you know football isn't far off. Let's take a closer look at the Sooners.

Schedule: Oklahoma opens camp later today in preparation for its Aug. 31 opener at home against Louisiana-Monroe. The Sooners will host a fan day on Saturday, too.

Setting the scene: The story of the offseason for the Sooners is replacing quarterback Landry Jones and a host of defensive players from a unit that started 2012 strong but finished in disastrous fashion with rough outings against West Virginia, Oklahoma State and a blowout loss to Texas A&M. The quarterback competition heated up a bit more than expected during the spring, but Blake Bell separated himself a bit in the spring game, though he hasn't been officially named the starter ahead of Trevor Knight and Kendal Thompson.

All eyes on: Bell. That's going to be the story for a lot of Big 12 teams this fall. Everybody knows Bell is a physical presence, but there seems to be a lot of skepticism around the league about his ability to throw the ball. That skepticism seems to be rooted in an ignorance regarding his high school career. He's still got a lot to prove despite rushing for 24 touchdowns in the past two seasons, but Bell threw for 69 touchdowns and 15 interceptions along with just under 6,000 yards in his last two years of high school. Kansas high school ball isn't the Big 12, but the point is, Bell was recruited because of his passing acumen, and his ability to get some tough yards was simply a bonus. "Blake is a guy that does throw the football well. We have a history in my going on 15 years of having guys in quarterbacks that are really excellent throwers, and Blake fits that mold," coach Bob Stoops said at Big 12 media days last week. "We would never recruit a guy that we didn't feel would be a great passer."

Outlook: Oklahoma finds itself in an odd position of being something of an underdog. Not a big one, but this is the first time since the Big 12 went to 10 teams that the Sooners haven't been picked to win the league. Oklahoma did get eight first-place votes from 43 voters, and is second in the league's media preseason poll, but Oklahoma is not used to starting the season outside the top 15, which might happen.

Stepping up: The Sooners need major help on the defensive line, and might need even more with the lone returning starter, Chuka Ndulue, likely suspended for the season opener after an offseason DUI arrest. Last season was one of the worst defensive lines at Oklahoma in a long time, which was painfully evident in the Cotton Bowl loss to the Aggies. Oklahoma needs promising prospects like Geneo Grissom, Jordan Phillips, Charles Tapper and Mike Onuoha to start turning the corner. Getting juco transfer Quincy Russell officially eligible as soon as possible would be a huge help, too.

Breaking out: Jalen Saunders is likely to emerge as Bell's top target, but keep an eye on Sterling Shepard. He showed tons of promise as a true freshman a year ago, catching 45 balls for 621 yards and three scores. He caught multiple passes in 11 games last season, and drew comparisons to Ryan Broyles along the way.

Quotable: Stoops, on fixing the defense that returns just four starters -- "Definitely, in some of our schemes a year ago, we were more coverage-conscious, and it hurt us in the run game. We'll have to make some adjustments there. And personnelwise, we do lose quite a few guys, but we are very excited about the talent and ability of some of the young players coming up that we're still developing, still polishing, still trying to improve skills."
Conference media days signal the end of the college football offseason and the start of the real season.

On Tuesday, the Sooners will bring cornerback Aaron Colvin, center Gabe Ikard and fullback Trey Millard to Dallas for their Big 12 media day. Here are five storylines to keep an eye on:

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:


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You’ve seen them while prepping your fantasy football team. Or reading ESPN Insider Chad Ford while getting ready for the NBA Draft. The “tier system” is an effective way of making sense, differentiating and analyzing a cluster of players. Everyone from pro sport general managers to college coaches out on the trail recruiting employ this method.

With this is mind, SoonerNation has parsed out Oklahoma’s roster into 10 separate tiers. Here they are:

Tier 1: The Elite (Guys who could play for almost anyone)


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Ranking Oklahoma's position groups 

June, 17, 2013
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The last several days, ESPN Insider Phil Steele has been rolling out the rankings of his top individual position units in the country. In that vein, SoonerNation has ranked OU’s position units for the upcoming season, from best to worst:


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Montgomery must reverse fortune at DT 

April, 1, 2013
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NORMAN, Okla. -- OK, Jerry Montgomery, this is a big reason you were brought to Oklahoma. Defensive tackle Trey Lealaimatafao (San Antonio/Warren) unexpectedly committing to Texas on Saturday night is another example of the Sooners falling short at defensive tackle.

And an example of the work ahead for Montgomery.

For OU’s 2012 class, the Sooners had a plan to not lobby too hard for a defensive tackle. They didn’t attack any high school or junior college prospects and were content with who was on campus.


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Coaches' corner: DT Quincy Russell

February, 28, 2013
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After recruiting them for several months, Oklahoma's coaching staff was finally able to talk publicly about the players the Sooners added to the program on signing day. Over the next week or so, SoonerNation will review some of the key things coaches had to say about the players signed at each position group during their signing day webcast on Soonersports.com.

Oklahoma is hoping for immediate help at defensive tackle from junior college signee Quincy Russell (San Antonio/Trinity Valley).

"Being that he’s a junior college guy with the size and strength and quickness he has, well really all of these guys anymore we expect to make an immediate impact, but we expect Quincy [to make an impact] being that he’s older," OU coach Bob Stoops said of Russell's potential impact.

At 6-foot-3, 308 pounds, Russell brings needed bulk to the Sooners interior, joining Jordan Phillips as the lone 300-plus pounders at defensive tackle.

"A bigger bodied guy, we’re getting size to plug up those run lanes," defensive ends coach Bobby Jack Wright said.

After the Sooners allowed 5.16 yards per carry in 2012, including 6.7 yards per carry in their three losses, OU was looking to make certain the 2013 version of the Sooners can stop the run. And that will require much better play from its defensive tackles.

"Solidifying our inside is a big priority," defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. "We need more plays from our guys up front. Quincy is a big physical guy who can hold down the middle of the field."

Position breakdown: Defensive tackle 

February, 25, 2013
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NORMAN, Okla. -- Michigan defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery will become Oklahoma's defensive tackles coach. And he faces a tall task in Norman.

No position on Oklahoma’s roster has more questions marks than defensive tackle.


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Simon, Anderson no longer on OU team

February, 17, 2013
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UPDATE: An OU spokesperson confirms junior defensive tackle Damon Williams is no longer on the team, as well.

NORMAN, Okla. -- Oklahoma will be transitioning to three new assistant coaches this spring. The Sooners will also have to make do with just four scholarship cornerbacks and possibly as few as three scholarship defensive tackles during the spring, as well.

An OU spokesperson confirmed Sunday night that cornerback Gary Simon and defensive tackle Marquis Anderson are no longer with the squad.

That leaves the Sooners with only returning starter Aaron Colvin, Cortez Johnson and Zack Sanchez and Kass Everett at cornerback; and just Jordan Phillips, Jordan Wade and Torrea Peterson at defensive tackle.

OU was hoping to add junior-college tackle Quincy Russell in January. Russell, however, still has academic work to complete before he can enroll. Of OU’s three returning defensive tackles, only Phillips saw even spot duty last season.

The Sooners signed three high school defensive tackles earlier this month, as well. But one of those, Kerrick Huggins, has yet to qualify and doubled-signed with Trinity Valley Community College in case he doesn’t make it Norman.

Coach Bob Stoops showed he hasn’t been happy lately with OU’s production or recruiting at defensive tackle, and fired his longtime defensive tackles coach, Jackie Shipp, last week. Last season, the Sooners ranked 94th in run defense and 108th in tackles for loss.

OU also lost its top three defensive tackles -- Casey Walker, Jamarkus McFarland and Stacy McGee -- to graduation.

The Sooners face transition in the secondary, as well. Three of five starters are gone, and Simon was expected to challenge Johnson for the starting job at corner opposite Colvin.

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