We all know the Oklahoma Sooners put together another solid recruiting class in 2012. As the countdown to fall camp continues, the question of who will see playing time immediately becomes more and more compelling.
Fortunately for the recruits, a number of them have the tools and opportunities to make immediate contributions in Norman. Don't be surprised if multiple freshmen become household names fairly quickly in 2012. Even if they don't become regular players immediately, several players should at least get some valuable playing time.
As we impatiently anticipate the beginning of another football season, here is an appetizer: five OU freshman you need to know heading into the 2012 season.
Metoyer is destined for greatness as a Sooner. At 6'2", 198 lbs., he has the size, speed and physicality to contribute immediately in OU's system. He'll have even more opportunity after the Sooners' athletic department announced the suspensions of receivers Jaz Reynolds, Trey Franks and Kameel Jackson. At this point, it's not unreasonable to expect Metoyer to be the No. 2 receiver behind Kenny Stills.
Indeed, he has already left his mark on the program. In April's spring game, he logged six catches for 72 yards and earned praise from co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel.
Granted, we haven't seen the freshman compete in a game yet, but the credentials speak for themselves. Rated at 5 stars by Rivals and Scout and the No. 8 receiver of the 2012 class by ESPN.com, Sooner fans should be giddy with anticipation about what a guy with this skill set could do in the Sooners' fast-paced, explosive offense.
Considering his sheer athleticism and opportunity, it's only a matter of time before Trey Metoyer breaks out in Norman.
Although he may not see playing time right away, Alex Ross' skill set renders him poised to do big things as a Sooner. Hailing from powerhouse Oklahoma Jenks High School, the former Under Armour All-American is a 4-star prospect and was rated the No. 7 running back in the nation by ESPN.com.
Ross possesses an enviable blend of size (6'1", 205 lbs.) and speed (he was a 2011 State Champion in the 200-meter dash), reminiscent of former OU great DeMarco Murray, and should see game action sooner rather than later.
His game time may be limited in 2012 with Dominique Whaley, Roy Finch, Brennan Clay and other incoming freshman filling out the depth chart at tailback, but Alex Ross will become a familiar face to Sooner fans in the near future.
Trey Metoyer is the crown jewel of OU's incoming receiving corps, but Durron Neal has just as much potential. He is just a tad smaller than Metoyer (6'1", 195 lbs.) but runs a slightly faster 40-yard dash, clocking in at 4.49 according to Scout.com.
Neal, one of five U.S. Army All-Americans in the Oklahoma recruiting class, has the potential to make noise immediately given the thinness of the receiving corps. He could even compete with Metoyer for the No. 2 receiver spot if the freshmen both live up to the hype.
All things considered, the quality of the Sooners' incoming receivers could very well offset the loss of Franks, Reynolds and Jackson. There will be plenty of athleticism at the position; the only thing lacking is experience.
The Round Rock, Texas, native Wade is another freshman with the potential to make an impact early for the Sooners. With a relatively thin defensive line, the Sooners may utilize a mix of players at defensive tackle, with Wade and fellow recruits Marquis Anderson and Jordan Phillips also potentially getting playing time.
At 6'4" and 290 lbs., Wade is a little taller than most of the Sooners' defensive tackles, and he could become an absolute mammoth if he bulks up. Regardless, he has a lot of potential and should see playing time early.
Additionally, the No. 8 defensive end in the nation by ESPN will benefit from the senior leadership of Stacey McGee, Casey Walker and JaMarkus McFarland at defensive tackle, which should ease his transition to Big 12 football.
Ben Habern will start at center for OU in 2012, but Ty Darlington is poised to be next in line as the anchor of the offensive line. The Apopka, Fla. native, also a U.S. Army All-American, was the unanimous No. 2 center in the nation and two-time first team All-State in high school.
Academically, Darlington shone just as brightly. He was class valedictorian with a 5.1 weighted GPA and scored a 33 on his ACT—according to Soonersports.com—which is auspicious as he prepares to tackle the complex duties of center for a perennial power in a top-tier conference.
Bob Stoops and staff may decide to redshirt the freshman considering the stability and experience of the Sooners' offensive line, which would be a wise decision. Whenever his number is called, though, Darlington should adapt quickly and blossom on the Sooner o-line.