Oklahoma Sooners: Torrea Peterson

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. 94 Torrea Peterson, defensive tackle, 6-foot-3, 300 pounds, senior

Impact thus far: Peterson had the most productive season of his career with seven games played and one start with four total tackles in 2013. He hasn’t made a major impact with 13 career games (one start) and seven tackles including 1.5 tackles for loss during his career.

Impact in 2014: Peterson is one of the reasons the Sooners could have the Big 12’s top defensive line. He’s not slated to start but he provides veteran competition and little drop off if called upon this fall. He’a a quality option for OU’s defensive line rotation.

Long term upside: He should be a contributor during his final season.

Evaluation grade for Peterson: D. More is expected from a three-star signee who has been on campus for four years. One start in 13 career games isn’t good enough. Peterson has done some things to keep himself off the field early in his career but if he continues to improve like he did heading into his junior season this grade would jump to an C.

Development grade for Peterson: B. There’s not much more the Sooners could have done to develop Peterson. They redshirted him and waited for him to mature before he finally became a contributor as a junior.
The final days of spring are rapidly approaching at Oklahoma. Instead of searching for the foundation of its squad, this spring has been a period of tinkering and polishing. Here’s a look at five players who need to finish the spring strong or risk leaving the door open for younger players and/or freshman arrivals.

Running back Alex Ross: The opportunity to play is there for the taking if Ross wants to grab it. He joins Keith Ford as the main competitors for carries this spring. Coach Bob Stoops has singled out Ross as a playmaker in scrimmages thus far but it’s critical for Ross to make a strong impression before February signees Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine arrive in the summer.

“I paid my dues and waited my time,” Ross said. “I felt like I needed time to get acclimated to everything around here. I feel like I’ve matured a little bit just in getting bigger and knowing what to do in my part.”

Defensive tackle Torrea Peterson: The senior played a solid role and contributed to OU’s success in 2013, even starting a game against Iowa State. Oklahoma is looking at one of its deepest defensive line units in years. If Jordan Phillips returns to good health and Jordan Wade continues to develop, OU has one of the best two-deep depth chart in the nation. Add Charles Walker, the star of the scout team last fall, and the defensive tackle spot is getting crowded. If Peterson continues to mature and improve, he could be able to secure himself a role but his margin of error is minimal.

Receiver Dannon Cavil: This spring is the 6-foot-4 Cavil’s chance to shine as the lone tall target in the receivers’ room. That changes this summer when three February receiver signees (Jeffery Mead, Mark Andrews and Dallis Todd) who stand 6-5 or taller will arrive.

Cavil is smooth and athletic and this spring will bring more opportunities than the summer or preseason camp. Now is the time for the redshirt freshman to lock down a spot in before other options begin arriving on campus and limiting his reps.

Cornerback Cortez Johnson: The junior headed into the summer of 2013 as an projected starter opposite Aaron Colvin. His sophomore season didn’t go as expected after Zack Sanchez started in his place due to Johnson’s suspension for the season opener and Sanchez never relinquished the starting spot. Johnson shouldered the blame for his subpar showing, saying he is focused on “taking more coaching and less talking” this spring. It’s important for Johnson to show he’s serious about changing his commitment to getting better because he brings excellent size (6-2, 205 pounds) to the cornerback spot.

“I’m just trying to bounce back from last year,” Johnson said. “I didn’t do so well and I’m just trying to be more consistent.”

Offensive lineman Josiah St. John: The senior is one player who was singled out by Stoops for his improvement during the offseason. A junior college transfer, St. John needs to show he can be solid competition for returning starters Daryl Williams and Tyrus Thompson at the tackle positions with an eye on being a solid third tackle. If he falters, Christian Daimler and Sam Grant are young tackles lurking with three additional tackle signees (Orlando Brown, Joseph Paul and Kenyon Frison) poised to arrive in the summer.
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.

Five things: Oklahoma at Kansas

October, 19, 2013
Here’s what we’ll be watching when Oklahoma visits Kansas on Saturday.

Replacing Jordan Phillips: The Sooners defensive tackle will miss the remainder of the season after having surgery Tuesday.

OU needs several defensive interior players, including Jordan Wade and Torrea Peterson, to step up to replace Phillips, who was becoming a legitimate force in the middle before his injury. It's unlikely one defender will step up and replace Phillips without help, but Sooners fans should hope to see someone make an impact at defensive tackle against the Jayhawks.

[+] EnlargeBlake Bell
Jackson Laizure/Getty ImagesBlake Bell took a step backward against Texas, but he'll start again this week at Kansas.
Quarterback controversy? OU has re-affirmed its commitment to Blake Bell this week, as the junior is poised to earn his fifth start of the season. Coach Bob Stoops has fielded questions about the Sooners willingness to play Trevor Knight or Kendal Thompson this week, but the bigger question is who will be the Sooners quarterback of the future? Can Bell rebound from his lackluster play in recent weeks to prove he's that guy? Or will Knight regain his starting spot? Or could Thompson, who has never taken a collegiate snap, finally get an opportunity? We could starting getting some answers on Saturday.

Will Kansas' offensive shakeup impact the game? KU coach Charlie Weis has shuffled his offensive coaching staff responsibilities this week with an eye on sparking the Jayhawks' offense. But OU's defense will be on a mission to prove itself after being horrible on third down against Texas in the Red River Rivalry. If the Sooners defense looks more like the unit which was superb in OU's first five games, it might not matter what Weis has done to jump start KU's offense.

Can OU find a passing game? The Sooners' quarterback issues aren't the only reason their passing game has been very average. The receivers need to win their one-on-one battles consistently, the offensive line needs to hold up in pass protection and the running game will have to continue to have success. While the quarterback play has been suspect, it's not the only issue in OU's passing game. Their passing game must improve, and it needs to start Saturday.

Key plays in clutch moments. OU clearly lost the battle on third down against the Longhorns. The offense couldn't pick up first downs, and the defense couldn't stop the Longhorns on third down. If OU truly has its eye on a Big 12 championship, the Sooners will need their key playmakers to make clutch plays on third down to move the chains or force a punt.
During the summer months, SoonerNation will take a closer look at each player on Oklahoma’s roster in our Crimson Countdown series. Each day, we will analyze each player’s impact on the program since arriving on campus, his potential impact this fall and his long-term impact. Starting with No. 1 Kendal Thompson, the series will follow the roster numerically through our final analysis of No. 99 Chaz Nelson.

No. 94 Torrea Peterson
Defensive tackle. 6-foot-3, 280 pounds, junior

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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NORMAN, Okla. -- The first time he stepped on the field as a Sooner, defensive end Charles Tapper felt uncertainty.

“It was nerve-racking,” he said.

In the Sooners’ 2012 season opener, the UTEP offensive tackle on the opposite side of the line of scrimmage did his best to intimidate Tapper, then just a freshman.

[+] EnlargeCharles Tapper
AP Photo/Sue OgrockiDefensive end Charles Tapper player sparingly for the Sooners in 2012, but he'll be a key member of the defense this season.
“I was kind of scared to go out there at first,” Tapper said. “The offensive tackle was just staring at me and I was just shaking.”

So instinct took over.

“So I tried to do a basketball move and he just threw me out of the way,” said Tapper, who was a standout basketball player who didn’t play football until his junior year at Baltimore (Md.) City College High School.

Later in the game, Tapper got the best of his one-on-one battle, pressuring UTEP quarterback Nick Lamaison in the final minutes of OU’s 24-7 win.

“After my first snap I was OK, I was ready to play,” Tapper said.

Those moments in El Paso, Texas, define Tapper's first season at OU. During times of uncertainty, the raw defeensive end turned to his basketball roots yet when he focused on his football fundamentals, he saw success.

(Read full post)

Spring game storylines: Oklahoma 

April, 11, 2013
NORMAN, Okla. -- Saturday, the Sooners will put the finishing touches on spring ball with the Red-White spring game.

With a quarterback derby, three first-year assistants and several new starters on defense, this has been one of the most storyline-rich springs of the Bob Stoops era. Of them all, here the seven most compelling storylines to watch for Saturday:

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Oklahoma 10: Mid-spring update 

April, 1, 2013
NORMAN, Okla. -- Many faces are gone from final 2012, SoonerNation “Oklahoma 10” -- a composite ranking of the 10 best players on the squad.

Through the first half of spring ball, we’ve updated the “Oklahoma 10,” which – you guessed it – features many new faces:

[+] EnlargeAaron Colvin
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireSenior cornerback Aaron Colvin is one of the top defensive backs in the nation.
1. FB Trey Millard (Last ranking: 2): Perhaps no one stands to benefit more from the ongoing tweaks offensively this spring than Millard -- and that’s a good thing for the overall team, too. Millard averaged 6 yards per carry and more than 11 per reception in 2012, despite touching the ball just 63 the entire season. With a renewed emphasis on the running game featuring a heavy dose of read, midline and triple option, Millard figures to be a bigger part of the attack next season.

2. CB Aaron Colvin (4): Where would the Sooners be if Colvin had joined Tony Jefferson and left early for the draft? He is the best player on this defense by a mile. What’s just as encouraging for a unit with so many young players is the leadership role Colvin appears to be seizing. Mike Stoops has plenty to worry about as he retools his defense. But he doesn’t have to worry about having someone the rest of his guys can look up to. Nor does he have to worry about Colvin locking up the receiver on his side of the field.

3. WR Jalen Saunders (6): By last season’s end, Saunders might have been the best receiver on the roster. The stats certainly support that notion, as he topped all OU receivers in yards after the catch and completion percentage on balls thrown his way. With Kenny Stills gone, there’s no doubt who the Sooners’ No. 1 option in the passing game will be next season, and Saunders looks ready to take on the burden of being the team’s definitive go-to receiver.

4. RB Damien Williams (NR): Who knows what kind of season Williams would have finished with had he been able to stay healthy? Despite a midseason ankle injury, Williams still rushed for 946 yards, which included four touchdown runs of 60 yards or more in OU’s first five games. The home-run threat put in the work over the offseason, and now weighs close to 215 pounds, which should only enhance his durability. If he can stick on the field and avoid the training room, Williams is more than capable of producing an All-Big 12 season.

5. C Gabe Ikard (9): Bob Stoops said he isn’t worrying about his center missing contact in the spring with a broken hand, and neither should you. Ideally, Ikard would be out there developing a rapport with new line coach Bill Bedenbaugh. But Ikard has 37 career starts, and two All-Big 12 seasons behind him. He’ll be ready to go when it counts.

6. WR Sterling Shepard (NR): Shepard has been dynamic since he stepped on campus, and has continued to get better this spring. Shepard has firmly entrenched himself as the offense’s No. 2 passing option behind Saunders, and is in line to be a No. 1 guy later in his career.

7. LB Corey Nelson (NR): Two springs ago, Bob Stoops said Nelson called the best player on the defense. That honor belongs to Colvin, but Nelson is the only other two-year contributor. The plan at the moment is to utilize Nelson is more ways than one, which is a step in the right direction considering he wasn’t utilized at all last season. The only chance for this defense to be more than mediocre is if Nelson plays – and plays at a high level.

8. OG Bronson Irwin (NR): The “War Daddy” has taken on a greater leadership role on the line with Ikard sidelined for the moment. Irwin, quietly coming off a banner junior season in which he played through multiple injuries, is one major reason why the offensive line has been controlling the trenches this spring.

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Simon, Anderson no longer on OU team

February, 17, 2013
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.
A glimpse at the attrition rate at the University of Oklahoma removes the fog hovering over some of the major question marks the Sooners face heading into 2013. OU has had some ill-timed departures, forcing the Sooners to rework their recruiting game plan with the hope of having a balanced roster heading into the upcoming season.

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NORMAN, Okla. -- At the moment, the Sooners are still without their two projected starting defensive tackles in Stacy McGee and Casey Walker. McGee remains suspended for a violation of university rules. Walker has not been at practice for more than a week as he deals with a personal issue.

Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said he’s not concerned with who’s missing.

“We coach our players who are there and we try to put them in the best position to do the things we need them to do to be successful and coach the players and scheme the guys we have,” Stoops said. “Who we don’t have, we really don’t worry about them.”

In place of McGee and Walker, David King and Jamarkus McFarland took almost every snap at tackle against UTEP and performed well as the Miners offense was kept out of the end zone.

“We play with the guys we have and coach them all the same and hopefully we won’t have to change our defense too much based on the personnel we have available,” Stoops said.

With Torrea Peterson also out with an academic issue, Stoops is hopeful some of his younger tackles like Jordan Phillips and Marquis Anderson will develop to where he can play them on a more consistent basis. Neither player got more than three snaps apiece in El Paso.

“It just wasn’t a comfortable feeling and I think our offense settled in and starting making some drives so I didn’t think we were too gassed (on defense),” Stoops said. “We stuck with the guys on the first line probably more than we would have liked but as the season goes on you hope younger players progress and continue to gain confidence and trust in what they’re doing.”
During the summer months, SoonerNation will take a closer look at each scholarship player on Oklahoma’s roster in our Crimson Countdown series. We'll analyze each player’s impact on the program since he arrived on campus, his potential impact this fall and his long-term impact. Starting with No. 1 Tony Jefferson, the daily series will go in numerical order until our final analysis of No. 98 Chuka Ndulue.

No. 94 Torrea Peterson
Defensive tackle, 6-foot-3, 292 pounds

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Oklahoma defensive tackle Jordan Phillips amazes his teammates almost daily.

And not just with his natural ability to blow past opposing offensive linemen.

“He’s the only 300-pound guy I’ve ever seen do a standing backflip in his pads,” said fellow defensive tackle Jamarkus McFarland. “And he can dunk with two hands, which is amazing.”

At 6-foot-6, now 330 pounds, Phillips looks like a tackle. But more than a tackle, he’s an athlete.

Last season, an academic snafu caused the Towanda, Kan., to arrive in Norman a couple of weeks after fall camp had started, ultimately leading him to redshirt. All it took was one practice, however, for Phillips to make his presence known. As the Sooners were warming up, Phillips did a standing backflip in front of the entire team -- forcing position coach Jackie Shipp to do something he never thought he’d have to do: outlaw backflips among his players.

“Coach Shipp was like, ‘Don’t do that no more. That’s too scary,’” McFarland recalled. “But he can do it.”

Shipp hasn’t outlawed dunking, but that could be next. Phillips is maybe the only OU defensive lineman able to throw down a two-handed jam. Despite weighing well over 300 pounds, Phillips, who averaged a double-double his final two seasons of high school, is also one of the best basketball players on the football team.

“I’ve seen him shoot from half court like they’re free throws,” McFarland said. “He’s amazing to watch. He can do whatever, honestly, I believe he could do baseball or swim.”

What the Sooners need most from Phillips is to eventually emerge as a difference-maker up front. The steady trio of Casey Walker, Stacy McGee and McFarland figure to anchor the tackle position for a third straight year. But all three will be gone after this season, which will leave a sizeable void down the middle of the defense.

The Sooners have other promising tackles. Redshirt freshman Marquis Anderson is more of a combo lineman in the mold of David King, able to play either tackle or end. Mid-semester addition Jordan Wade, meanwhile, is an intriguing prospect, though still probably a year away from seriously contributing. Then there are sophomores Damon Williams and Torrea Peterson, who, as McFarland puts it, are both capable of being “low-pad, run-stuffers.”

But none possesses the athletic tool belt Phillips does.

“He has amazing ability to do pretty much anything he wants,” McFarland said. “All he has to do is put his mind to it.”
Jake Trotter answers readers’ questions about Oklahoma football in his mailbag every Friday. Got a question for Jake? Submit it here.

Sean Cowan in Neodesha, Kan., writes: I haven't heard much on running back Dominique Whaley, has he fully recovered? And how well do you think he will do this coming year?

Jake Trotter: Whaley (who fractured his ankle last season) isn’t fully recovered, but he has been doing some light jogging in practice, which is an excellent sign he’ll be ready to go for next season. Initially, I was skeptical about how big of an impact Whaley would be able to make next season coming back from such a horrific injury. That skepticism is washing away.

A.J. in Long Beach, Calif., writes: I saw that Torrea Peterson is on the spring roster. Does that mean he is officially reinstated to the team?

Jake Trotter: I’ve been led to believe that this is the case. Peterson has some work to do before his status is completely solidified. But for now, he remains a member of the team.

Chad in Edmond, Okla., writes: Prediction on starting TE first game? Will Latu at LT? If so, does he start? If not, where does he play and does he start?

Jake Trotter: I think there’s little question that Brannon Green will be OU’s opening day tight end. Tony Jefferson remarked this week that Green has been most impressive of all the newcomers. Lane Johnson is going to be the starting left tackle. Latu could play right tackle if he proves to be better than Daryl Williams or Tyrus Thompson, but my guess is that he’ll start out backing up Johnson on the left side.

Carter in Oklahoma City writes: With the decision of Kellen Jones to transfer, what does this do to OU's depth chart not only this spring but going into the fall at LB?

Jake Trotter: It does very little to the immediate depth chart. Senior Jaydan Bird was going to back up Tom Wort at middle linebacker either way. Kellen Jones could have emerged as No. 2 at weak-side linebacker behind Corey Nelson, but he would have played very little. Where Jones’ transfer hurts is 2014. Wort and Nelson will be gone, and Jones seemed like the most promising of all the young linebackers.


Big 12 2015 Recruiting Overview
National recruiting analysts Tom Luginbill and Craig Haubert discuss the top 2015 recruiting classes in the Big 12.