Well, it appears that class might have a challenger.
The most recent 2012 class has a number of guys that Stoops fully expects to play--and make a big impact.
“Sterling [Shepard], Durron Neal, Taylor McNamara. Who else?” Stoops said as he racked his brain. “Let me see my sheet here. I’m missing somebody. Oh, Ty Darlington. Yeah, Trey Metoyer. Defensively, Gary Simon, Charles Tapper, Michael Onuoha, definitely play. Eric Striker. I don’t know if I’m missing anybody. Zack Sanchez probably. Am I missing anyone? I don’t know. I think those are some of the ones that pop up.”
Fact of the matter is there’s so many it’s hard for him to pinpoint them all.
Shepard, OU’s future star slot receiver, has already drawn comparisons to the great Ryan Broyles and he’s yet to even step on the field.
“Yeah, he does remind you of Ryan a little bit,” said quarterback Landry Jones. “They’re different enough where you can kind of tell them apart, you know, so Sterling has a similar game to Ryan but they’re not all the same. You know, I think Ryan might have been a little bit more shifty than Sterling, but Sterling has more size than Ryan, I think.”
Neal’s speed and athleticism have been his talking points, while Metoyer, who probably headlines them all, has only gotten better since soaking in all that knowledge last spring.
“He makes as good of catches and competitive catches as anyone we’ve had,” Stoops said. “People have their hands on the ball and he just has a great knack for getting it. He’s just got those strong hands.”
McNamara has started to adjust to the collegiate level, tight ends and tackles coach Bruce Kittle said the other day, and Darlington is one that now-retired Ben Habern said impressed all summer and will play.
“One guy that I think is probably going to turn a lot of heads maybe as a true freshman is Ty Darlington, the new center that came in this year,” Habern said. “And he’s from Florida. He’s a guy that, I mean, [is] a little underweight but you know most guys are as freshmen. But I wouldn’t be surprised if I see him get some playing time this year because he’s a big, strong kid and he’s got some athleticism to him.”
Oh, and there’s more.
Secondary players have raved about Sanchez and Simon all camp and Striker, too, at the linebacker position.
“He’s a baller out there on the field, too, so that’s much respect to me,” said left corner Demontre Hurst. “And, you know, just saying Eric Striker, the striker, the name’s kinda catchy, too. So, for him to have that name, it’s a pretty tight thing.”
And the two defensive ends, Onuoha and Tapper, definitely cannot be forgotten.
They’ve probably been the two most talked about guys on the defensive side of the ball.
“Talent and size and they’ve had really a great work ethic and ability to pick things up and to play hard,” Stoops said. “But they’re two guys that are 250 pounds and they’ve got ranged to them and they’re doing a good job with it.”
D-ends coach Bobby Jack Wright has said several times they’ll play and not even be considered for a redshirt.
Evidence of that came out when the depth chart was released Monday and both were on the two-deep.
So, with all these true freshmen set to see the field, might this again be the finest class Stoops has ever put on there in the first season?
The tools are there to make it that.
Now, it just comes down to production.
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