Oklahoma Football: 4 Freshmen Who Will Thrive in 2012
Expectations are as high as ever for the Oklahoma Sooners entering this season. The return of Landry Jones gives the team hope of competing for a National Championship.
The Sooners lost several key players to the NFL on both offense and defense. Bob Stoops has reloaded the program with a talented freshmen class, and the team hopes a few stars can emerge from this year's class right away.
Here are four freshmen who will thrive for the Sooners.
Sterling Shepard has drawn comparisons to former Sooners wide receiver Ryan Broyles, as well as NFL veteran Lee Evans.
Bob Stoops singled out Shepard in his latest press conference via NewsOK.com, saying Shepard has a "special feel" as a slot receiver.
It remains to be seen how often Shepard will see the field early on. It could be difficult for him to see many snaps right away if he is only used inside.
Kenny Stills is often used in the slot, and Shepard's size could prohibit him from being played on the edge.
It's hard to imagine the Sooners keeping Shepard on the bench, however. Once the Sooners get a glimpse of his dynamic playmaking ability, he'll be tough to keep off the field.
Shepard is too much of a talent to not play, and the Sooners will look to air it out as Landry Jones chases the Heisman Trophy.
Mark D. Smith-US PRESSWIRE
Trey Metoyer wasn't as highly recruited as teammate Sterling Shepard, but he is still making a big impression on the Oklahoma coaching staff.
The 6'2" 198-pound wide receiver is the only freshman listed as a starter on the Oklahoma Sooners most recently released depth chart.
That's impressive considering the talent level of Oklahoma's freshmen this year. Given his position on the depth chart, Metoyer should be depended on heavily.
His 4.42 speed should immediately allow him to run through any Big 12 secondary. Head coach Bob Stoops told NewsOK.com in his press conference Metoyer makes as "competitive of catches as anyone we've had."
Metoyer could end up being a bigger impact early in the season more than any other Sooners freshman.
The Sooners are committed to developing a young wide receiving group this year. Metoyer should see plenty of opportunities to catch balls in Oklahoma's offense.
Oklahoma may have found its next great tight end in Taylor McNamara. The 6'5" 234-pound 4-star recruit from San Diego, California figures to immediately see action as one of the featured tight ends in Oklahoma's offense.
Oklahoma's offense was one of the best in school history when former tight end Jermaine Gresham was catching passes from Sam Bradford.
McNamara may not be the same caliber of athlete Gresham was, but his size and hands will allow him to be a factor immediately.
Scout.com's Scott Kennedy offered this scouting report on McNamara:
McNamara is a big, soft-handed receiver for his Westview team. He has quick feet and shows the ability to get off the line quickly and run crisp routes, but at times he plays off balance which causes him to stumble out of the blocks and hurts him when he's blocking. He has an excellent frame and shows potential for growth. He has natural hands and extends well to make a catch. He needs to fill out his frame and get stronger.
Quick feet and soft hands are special qualities to have in a 6'5" tight end. If McNamara dedicates himself to adding strength and becoming a better route runner, the freshman could be one of the biggest matchup nightmares on this offense.
Oklahoma lost some of its premier defensive line talent to the NFL this past offseason. It was important to address this area of need in recruiting. The Sooners hope Michael Onuoha can help replace some of those players right away.
Mike Sherman, sports editor for NewsOK.com, tweeted this from Bob Stoops' most recent press conference:
Stoops on Onuoha: Every time you saw him he was getting in the weight room or getting out. #Sooners— MikeSherman (@MikeSherman) August 27, 2012
That's a scary thought for opposing Big 12 offenses considering the 3-star recruit is a physical specimen at 6'5" and 235 pounds. He is already listed as the second left defensive end on Oklahoma's latest depth chart.
The freshman will see the field early because of his size and versatility. Onuoha talked to Joey Helmer of Oklahoma.Scout.com about the kind of player he could be:
I’m very versatile, Onuoha said. I could see myself gaining a lot of weight and then being a pretty stacked player. But at the same time, I’m really quick, so I can say something like a Ronnell Lewis [is who I could be like]. I can play Jack, I can drop, I got speed off the edge, so either way I’m not really going to compare myself to anybody because I’m Mike Onuoha and I’m a whole different person.
If Onuoha can live up to the high standards he is setting for himself, he could be one of the best freshman defensive lineman in the country this year.