Oklahoma Sooners: Roundtable

Roundtable: OU's best hire of 2013 

March, 7, 2013
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Every Thursday, the SoonerNation staff will answer a roundtable question about OU football. Leave a comment or talk about it in our "There's Only One" forum.

Today's question: Which new Oklahoma assistant -- Bill Bedenbaugh, Jerry Montgomery or Jay Boulware -- was the best hire?

Roundtable: OU's starting quarterback 

February, 28, 2013
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Every Thursday, the SoonerNation staff will answer a roundtable question about OU football. Leave a comment or talk about it in our "There's Only One" forum.

Based on what we know right now, who will open the season as Oklahoma's starting quarterback?

[+] EnlargeBlake Bell
Mark D. Smith/US PresswireBlake Bell has the most experience of any quarterback on OU's roster but has not thrown many passes in games.
• I keep hearing good things about Trevor Knight's chances of winning the starting job. Really good things. But right now, it's difficult for me to bet against Blake Bell. The Belldozer has more experience in the offense, more experience on the field, and a skill set that often gets overlooked. Bell can make all the throws, and his accuracy has really progressed over the last two years. As a proven thumper on the ground, he gives the Sooners a true dual-threat, too. Knight's future is bright in Norman. But the odds are against that future beginning this year.

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Roundtable: Must-get recruit for OU in '14 

February, 21, 2013
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Every Thursday, the SoonerNation staff will answer a roundtable question about OU football. Leave a comment or talk about it in our "There's Only One" forum.

Name one recruit who is a must-get for the Sooners in the Class of 2014:


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Roundtable: No. 1 defensive concern 

January, 17, 2013
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Every Thursday, the SoonerNation staff will answer a roundtable question about OU football. Leave a comment or talk about it in our "There's Only One" forum.

Today's question: What is OU's biggest offensive concern going into the offseason?


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Roundtable: Best moment of OU season? 

December, 6, 2012
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Every Thursday, the SoonerNation staff will answer a roundtable question about OU football. Leave a comment or talk about it in our "There's Only One" forum.

Today's question: What was the best moment of the Sooners' regular season?

[+] EnlargeBrennan Clay
AP Photo/Sue OgrockiOU running back Brennnan Clay rushed for an 18-yard touchdown in overtime to beat Oklahoma State.
• The Sooners have had some magical moments. Blake Bell's fourth-down TD plunge in Bedlam. Damien Williams's 95-yard TD scamper in the Cotton Bowl. But the moment of the season was Landry's Jones TD pass to Kenny Stills at West Virginia. On fourth down and the game on the line, Jones audibled to a slant to Stills, then found him for the game-winning score in the final seconds. Without that play, OU's season would have not been a successful one. With it, the season looks pretty good.

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Roundtable: Sooners to watch in preseason

August, 1, 2012
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With practice starting this week, give one Oklahoma player to watch during fall camp and why.

Overshadowed by the Ryan Broyles injury, the offense really missed Dominique Whaley the second half of the 2011 season. Whaley, who suffered a broken ankle at Kansas State, has been cleared to resume football activities. But even Bob Stoops has admitted the Sooners won't know how close Whaley is to his old self until he puts on the pads. Whaley gives OU the between-the-tackles back they sorely missed last November which had previously took pressure off the passing game. If he is the back he was last season, the Sooners will be that much tougher to stop.

- Jake Trotter

It's pretty simple for me. Trey Metoyer is the guy to watch because I love watching him play football. He's a special talent who can do special things, why wouldn't you want to watch him? Another reason to keep an eye on the true freshman is because I believe it is entirely possible he is considered one of the best players on the team as Big 12 play opens and emerges as an offensive threat who Big 12 defensive coordinators have to game plan against as November approaches. How Metoyer has handled his spring success and how he handles the demands of preseason camp could tell us how quickly his on-field production mirrors his overall potential and upside.

[+] EnlargeDominique Whaley
AP Photo/Sue OgrockiQuestions still remain about how healthy Dominique Whaley will be for the Sooners in 2012.
- Brandon Chatmon

Regardless of what happens with suspended wide receivers Jaz Reynolds, Trey Franks and Kameel Jackson, the name to watch in August is freshman Sterling Shepard. From all reports, Shepard has come in and put in the work in the summer and done everything possible to develop a good relationship with Landry Jones. If any of the suspended receivers do return, the spotlight won’t be on Shepard as much. However, he is somebody who will embrace the spotlight. And as an OU legacy, Shepard is ready to add his name to the Shepard lore. His father and his two uncles both played for the Sooners. What set Shepard apart at the high school level was his competitiveness. And it was never on display more than whenever there was a jump ball. Shepard is not the biggest receiver at 5-foot-10, but with 40-inch vertical leap and timing, he gets balls that you just simply never thought he could. It will be tough task, no doubt, but don’t be surprised to see Shepard in the starting lineup Sept. 1 at UTEP. If he’s not there, it won’t be for lack of effort.

- Bob Przybylo

Middle linebacker Tom Wort, who fought through multiple injuries in 2011 and had an up-and-down season, could be the Sooners' most important defensive player in 2012. With Travis Lewis gone to graduation, Wort will step into the role of OU's primary defensive leader, a role that's desperately needed for the Sooners to improve. Wort, who lost a close companion and position coach in Brent Venables this spring, will need to take the reigns of new defensive coordinator Mike Stoops' revamped scheme, which will likely put the linebacker in a better position to succeed. If Wort buys in and excels, the defense will be much improved around him.

- Dane Beavers

What is a successful season for OU in 2012?

July, 2, 2012
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Every Monday during the summer, the SoonerNation staff answers a roundtable question. Leave a comment or talk about it in our "There's Only One" forum.

Today's question: What will be considered a successful season for the Sooners in 2012?

Honestly, I don't think anyone will consider this a successful season unless the Sooners get to the national championship game. That's unfortunate. But when you're a blue-chip program and a preseason Top-5 team that was preseason No. 1 last year, that's the expectation. OU can obviously have a solid season without going to the national championship. A Big 12 title would be nice. So would a BCS game appearance. But for Sooner Nation to truly consider this season a success, the Sooners will have to get to the big one.

[+] EnlargeRoy Finch
Steven Leija/Icon SMIJunior tailback Roy Finch will likely have an expanded role in Oklahoma's offense in 2012.
- Jake Trotter

A national championship. Some programs play to improve their national prestige, others play for conference championships, but at Oklahoma the Sooners play for national championships, it's just that simple. Even if the Sooners make the national championship game and come up short, there will be more talk about OU's struggles to win BCS title games than how successful the season was, particularly when you began the season with a fifth-year quarterback who has started 37 games in three seasons. It's not fair, it's a daunting task but it's a part of being at Oklahoma. And everyone in the program knew that when they signed on.

- Brandon Chatmon

Realistic expectations go out the window when it comes to OU football. That's the price of success for OU coach Bob Stoops. It truly is national championship or bust in Norman. It doesn't matter that OU has no experience at wide receiver. It doesn't matter that the status of Dominique Whaley and the running back position is still unclear. It doesn't matter that nobody has any idea how Tim Kish and Mike Stoops will impact the defense. And if OU isn't going to win the big one, well, at least beating Texas will appease a lot of Sooners fanatics.

- Bob Przybylo

Success at Oklahoma isn't measured in wins and losses, it's measured in championships. And Bob Stoops has seven Big 12 titles and one national championship to his name. With no clear-cut favorite to win the national title in 2012, this season is no different. The Sooners need to win it all for fans to consider 2012 a memorable year. And though OU has its flaws -- particularly on the defensive line and inexperience at receiver -- that hasn't tempered expectations in the state. Fans are getting antsy for another January trip to Miami.

- Dane Beavers

Is Landry Jones the Big 12's best QB?

June, 25, 2012
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Every Monday during the summer, the SoonerNation staff answers a roundtable question. Leave a comment or talk about it in our "There's Only One" forum.

Today's question: Is Landry Jones the Big 12's best quarterback?

[+] EnlargeLandry Jones
Rick Scuteri/AP ImagesOklahoma's Landry Jones regressed statistically in 2011 and he'll have a new set of receivers in 2012.
Landry Jones left us all with a bad taste in our mouths with the way he finished last season. But I really believe Jones is closer to the player we saw at the end of 2010 than the player we saw at the end of 2011. Geno Smith is a big-time playmaker coming off a fabulous season. But to me, with his combination of size, strength and most of all, experience, Jones tops the Big 12 quarterback list over Smith and Kansas State's Collin Klein.

- Jake Trotter

It's hard to go wrong with OU's Landry Jones or West Virginia's Geno Smith. But Smith gets the nod based off his playmaking ability in key moments. On third down, Smith completed 64.1 percent of his passes while Jones completed 51.9 percent of his throws in 2010. Smith was also excellent as his team moved the ball into scoring range as he threw 36 touchdowns and just one interception inside his opponents 40-yard line while completing 60.6 percent of his passes. Jones threw 32 touchdowns and six interceptions inside his opponent's 40 while competing 54.1 percent of his throws.

In 2011, as Smith approached the end zone or when his team needed a third-down conversation, the Mountaineer quarterback was better than OU's signal caller. And that's why he gets the nod.

- Brandon Chatmon

West Virginia's Geno Smith is getting a lot of love around Big 12 country. Is it a case of liking something new with the Mountaineers joining the conference, or is Smith the real deal? Time will tell on that one. Smith is the trendy pick now, but Landry Jones will be the name fans remember when December rolls around. It won't be easy for Jones who will be dealing with almost an entirely new set of receivers, but it will also give him a chance to show what a leader he is. Some people have questioned him in that department. When 2012 is over, those questions will have been answered and the doubters will be gone.

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Who is the Big 12's best quarterback?

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- Bob Przybylo

Landry Jones is not the Big 12's best quarterback. But he's only slightly behind West Virginia signal-caller Geno Smith, who's more efficient. Jones threw 15 interceptions in 2011 -- six in OU's last four games without primary target Ryan Broyles -- and had just 29 passing touchdowns, down from 38 in 2010. Smith had a better than 4:1 ratio of touchdowns to interceptions (31 to 7) last season, and as Brandon noted, was better than Jones in the red zone. Jones, however, has the tools to be the conference's best in 2012, especially if he takes care of the ball. Smith, who flirted with disaster last season with fumbles (12 total; just four lost) and took several more sacks than Jones (26 to 10), could struggle in his first year against Big 12's defense, while Jones is one of the most-experienced quarterbacks in the country.

- Dane Beavers

Who will be OU’s biggest threat to a Big 12 title?

June, 18, 2012
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Every Monday during the summer, the SoonerNation staff answers a roundtable question. Leave a comment or talk about it in our "There's Only One" forum.

Today's question: Who will be OU’s biggest threat to a Big 12 title?

Any one of six teams could win the Big 12 title this season, the most contenders the league has had in years, and maybe ever. But OU's top challenger for conference supremacy should be West Virginia. The Mountaineers return 16 starters, including QB Geno Smith, off last year's Big East champion squad that destroyed Clemson in the Orange Bowl. West Virginia has to go to Texas and Oklahoma State, and play Oklahoma in Morgantown on Nov. 17 in a tilt that figures to have major Big 12 title implications. To win the Big 12, the Sooners probably will also have to win that game.

- Jake Trotter

[+] EnlargeWest Virginia's Geno Smith
Andrew Weber/US PresswireWest Virginia's Geno Smith will be one of the Big 12's top signal-callers in 2012.
West Virginia is the biggest threat to OU's hopes for a Big 12 championship. Quarterback Geno Smith is entering his second season in Dana Holgorsen's offense and has Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin, a couple of 1,000-yard receivers, to throw to. The Sooners will need to make a major improvement in the secondary to handle the Mountaineers, particularly in Morgantown. West Virginia gets TCU and OU at home but travels to Texas and Oklahoma State in a schedule that should allow WVU to put itself right in contention for a Big 12 title in its first season in the league.

- Brandon Chatmon

Did West Virginia just score again in the Orange Bowl against Clemson? OK, so that joke got played out, but the fact remains that the Mountaineers offense is going to be scary good. Quarterback Geno Smith and Tavon Austin connected for four touchdowns in that game and both are back. Add the fact West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen is familiar with Big 12 systems from his time at Oklahoma State, and the Mountaineers are a real contender for a championship in their first year in the conference. If OU's problems in the secondary haven't been solved, the Nov. 17 trip to Morgantown, W.V., could be a long night.

- Bob Przybylo

West Virginia could beat Oklahoma in November, but I think the Mountaineers' road conference schedule is too tough for them to win the Big 12 title. WVU plays at Texas, at Oklahoma State and at Texas Tech (still a tough place to play), and I could see the Mountaineers losing two of those games. As for OU's biggest threat to a conference championship, give me Texas. The Longhorns have a strong running game, will likely have the best defense in the conference and if they can get above-average play at quarterback, they'll be tough to beat. Beat OU in Dallas on Oct. 13 and the Longhorns have a tame slate the rest of the way.

- Dane Beavers

Which youngster will be most improved?

June, 11, 2012
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Every Monday during the summer, the SoonerNation staff answers a roundtable question. Leave a comment or talk about it in our "There's Only One" forum.

Today's question: Who will be the Sooners' most improved redshirt freshman or sophomore?

In just a couple of plays during the Red-White spring game, defensive tackle Jordan Phillips showed what he's capable of. Phillips has already wowed teammates and coaches with freaky athleticism for a player of his size. Next season as a redshirt freshman, Phillips will begin wowing the rest of us. The Sooners need a difference-maker to emerge up front. Assuming he works his way into the tackle rotation, Phillips just might be that guy.

- Jake Trotter

Tackle Daryl Williams will make the biggest jump from his redshirt freshman to sophomore season. He was slated to start at right tackle for the Sooners as a redshirt freshman but an ankle injury in the season opener against Tulsa hampered him throughout the 2011 season. Expect Williams to progress from potential starter to a cornerstone of the Sooners offensive line this season after locking down the starting right tackle position during spring football.

- Brandon Chatmon

Ask me in February, and my clear answer was wide receiver Kameel Jackson. I do think Jackson is going to work himself back into the good graces, but it won't be easy. I'm staying on offense and saying fullback Aaron Ripkowski is going to make some noise in 2012. Because of the versatility of Trey Millard, I expect Ripkowski to get more chances at the traditional role of fullback. He turned heads as a freshman and has the perfect fullback name in Ripkowski.

- Bob Przybylo

While Lane Johnson was solid but not spectacular at right tackle for the Sooners in 2011, Daryl Williams was a non-factor.. Expect Williams' role to change significantly this season as he has already locked down the starting job coming out of spring. Williams has the potential to be an all-conference lineman, barring any injuries which was his downfall last season. Williams will likely be the youngest member of OU's line, but he's also one of its most talented.

- Dane Beavers

Should OU fans be worried about receivers?

May, 21, 2012
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Every Monday during the summer, the SoonerNation staff answers a roundtable question. Leave a comment or talk about it in our "There's Only One" forum.

Today's question: On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being the most worried), how worried should fans be about Oklahoma's receiver position in 2012?

Five. I'm not worried about the talent. I am worried about the inexperience, the uncertainty and potentially the depth. Kenny Stills has the upside of a bona fide No. 1 receiver, but outside of him, nobody else that's unsuspended at the moment really has a firm grasp of the playbook. That's a scary proposition for an offense that leans heavily on the pass. The Sooners are banking on Stills returning to freshman form, and true freshman Trey Metoyer has otherworldly potential. But after that, it's a crapshoot. What will become of Jaz Reynolds or Trey Franks? Can Kameel Jackson be counted on? Will Courtney Gardner make it to campus? Will Durron Neal or Sterling Shepard be ready to play as incoming freshmen? Does LaColtan Bester really fit in anywhere? Among all of OU's receivers, the talent is there. After that, who knows?

- Jake Trotter

[+] EnlargeTrey Metoyer
Mark D. Smith/US PresswireReceiver Trey Metoyer is expected to step in and start for the Sooners as a true freshman.
Four. The Sooners should be worried strictly because of the injury bug. A couple of key injuries and the Sooners offense turns toward the Belldozer permanently. OK, that might be a bit over the top, but you get the point. OU is a balanced offense and you need receivers to throw the ball. The Sooners are looking at going into the season with limited numbers at the position. Yet I'm not going higher than four because I think the overall talent at the position has been upgraded and you can't assume someone will get injured -- OU could be injury-free at the position this fall. If the Sooners are, the position has been upgraded. There's no guarantee that the three suspended receivers would have finished among OU's top three receivers in 2012 even if they were in good standing within the program. The spring's developments have lessened the competition and depth among the receivers but not the talent.

- Brandon Chatmon

Eight, but it feels like it is going up with each passing week. The only reason it isn't higher is because of the experience of quarterback Landry Jones. It's going to be a weird transition for Jones after throwing to a familiar face like Ryan Broyles to now throwing it to guys who have never caught a pass in a college football game. You can't question the hunger of high school signees Shepard, Neal and Derrick Woods, but nobody can answer how they're going to respond when the lights come on. Communication will never be more important than it will be for OU's offense in 2012.

- Bob Przybylo

Six. If Gardner makes it to Oklahoma this summer (it's still up in the air Insider), the Sooners will have added seven scholarship receivers since January. Six of those (Metoyer, Gardner, Bester, Neal, Woods and Shepard) are eligible to play in 2012 with Jalen Saunders using a redshirt year after his transfer from Fresno State. That's a ridiculous amount of turnover for the receiving core and fans should be worried about the incoming wideouts' ability to mesh with Jones and learn the playbook. Though the talent is there, can the Sooners be conference title contenders with that many newcomers at a key position? If Gardner doesn't make it to OU, the number only rises.

- Dane Beavers

Should Aaron Colvin be moved back to CB?

May, 14, 2012
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Every Monday during the summer, the SoonerNation staff answers a roundtable question. Leave a comment or talk about it in our "There's Only One" forum.

Today's question: Should Aaron Colvin be moved back to cornerback?

To be successful in a Mike Stoops defense, you have to be solid at cornerback. That's why moving Aaron Colvin from safety to corner makes all the sense in the world. The Sooners have one All-Big 12-caliber corner in Demontre Hurst. Think about how tough the Sooners will be against the pass with two. Yes, Colvin sliding to corner leaves OU with questions at safety. But the shifting of Tony Jefferson from nickelback to free safety should be a calming influence on Javon Harris. Harris struggled at times last season, but he's a senior and still one of OU's five-best defensive backs. The Sooners are better off giving Harris another shot at safety alongside Jefferson, then debuting somebody completely new at corner and hoping for the best.

- Jake Trotter

[+] EnlargeAaron Colvin
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireOklahoma's Aaron Colvin played safety as a sophomore but could move to cornerback as a junior.
While moving Aaron Colvin to cornerback makes perfect sense at first glance, I don't think it's the best move for Oklahoma's defense. Colvin is one of the top playmakers on the team and a solid tackler. A move to cornerback takes him away from the action in the middle of the field, not to mention the impact his coverage ability can have against slot receivers in four-receiver packages. Lamar Harris had a solid spring and the overall depth at the cornerback position has improved, lessening the urgency of a move.

In this era of pass-happy offenses in the Big 12, the Sooners need as many cover guys on the field as possible. Leaving Colvin at safety gets them closer to that goal.

- Brandon Chatmon

What has helped Aaron Colvin stand out so much has been his versatility so there is no wrong answer here because he will adapt to whatever is being asked of him. However, he should stay at safety. He proved to be so effective at the position last season and was definitely one of the bright spots of 2011. Mike Stoops won't put his players in a spot where they cannot succeed. Though incredibly early in the process, it doesn't appear like cornerback will be as big of a concern so why mess with a good thing? Colvin is a game-changer, whether it's in coverage or as one of the most consistent tacklers on the squad.

- Bob Przybylo

Aaron Colvin will start for the Sooners in 2012, whether it's at safety or cornerback. But I believe he'll move back to cornerback as Mike Stoops tries to put his four best defensive backs on the field. With Tony Jefferson having locked down the starting spot at free safety this spring, Colvin would have to beat out Javon Harris, who started last season, at strong safety. Harris struggled at times last season, but Stoops praised him during the spring. At cornerback, senior Lamar Harris started the Red-White spring game (opposite entrenched Demontre Hurst) and showed promise, but there's a reason he hasn't sniffed the field during his career. Colvin would bring experience and stability to the cornerback position and gives the Sooners a talented back-four.

- Dane Beavers

What is OU's biggest need in the 2013 recruiting class?

May, 7, 2012
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Every Monday during the summer, the SoonerNation staff answers a roundtable question. Leave a comment or talk about it in our "There's Only One" forum.

Today's question: What is Oklahoma's biggest need in the 2013 recruiting class?

[+] EnlargeStanvon Taylor
Bob Przybylo/ESPN.comIn-state cornerback Stanvon Taylor committed to the Sooners late last week.
Mike Stoops said during the spring it was imperative the Sooners signed five "quality" defensive backs in their next recruiting class. In the NFL, top-notch defensive backs are becoming a premium because of the number of proficient passing games that have taken over the league. The same can be said of the Big 12. If you don't have a strong defensive backfield, you're going to get beat, and, as OU found out last season, often more than once. The Sooners added a few promising players this past class in Gary Simon, Eric Striker and Zack Sanchez, but by 2014 Aaron Colvin, Tony Jefferson, Demontre Hurst, Javon Harris, Lamar Harris and Joe Ibiloye will all be gone. Replacing them with "quality" players is of the highest priorities.

- Jake Trotter

Defensive back is a major need for the Sooners. OU's lack of depth in the secondary can be considered one of the primary reasons for losses to Baylor and Texas Tech in 2011 and the Sooners will be looking at losing at least half of its entire starting secondary after this season. And that's if Tony Jefferson and Aaron Colvin return and don't enter the 2013 NFL draft. Mike Stoops said he is looking to sign five quality defensive backs in this recruiting class and the Sooners are definitely going to need all of those bodies with the hope at least two of them can step in and make an impact immediately.

- Brandon Chatmon

Oklahoma was close with a couple of big-time offensive tackle targets in 2012. In not getting Joshua Garnett (Stanford) or Zach Banner (USC), it has made offensive tackle an even bigger point of emphasis for the class. OU is hoping to get three tackles and Bruce Kittle has sought out the guys he thinks will fit the Sooners best. OU picked up one with Dalton Rodriguez (Tulsa, Okla./Union), but he is an unknown commodity at the position. There aren't many elite regional tackles still on the board so Kittle has some work to do in convincing a national recruit to take a chance on the Sooners.

- Bob Przybylo

There's no doubt the Sooners are lacking depth on the defensive side of the ball. But linebacker is the position that's most in need of young talent, especially after Oklahoma didn't sign any 'backers in the class of 2012 (Eric Striker will likely play safety at OU). Earlier this spring, their most-talented young linebacker Kellen Jones, who played some as a true freshman in 2011, transferred to join Brent Venables at Clemson. That leaves OU desperate for young depth with its entire top four being upperclassmen. It's a priority for new assistant coach Tim Kish to find a few playmakers in the class of 2013.


- Dane Beavers

Roundtable: OU's most underrated recruit 

January, 30, 2012
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Which Oklahoma commit in the class of 2012 is the most underrated?

QB Trevor Knight
Knight doesn’t have the flashy five-star ranking of a Blake Bell, but to me is just as intriguing a prospect. Knight (6-foot-2, 190 pounds) isn’t nearly as big as Bell, but he’s more athletic and equipped with a big-time arm. Bell is the favorite to take for Landry Jones in 2013. After Bell, Knight could be the next in line.
- Jake Trotter

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