Oklahoma Sooners: Who Will Be the 2010 MVP?
2009 started with a ton of hope in Norman.
Four future first-round draft picks, including a Heisman Trophy winner hungry to get back the to BCS national title game.
However, the expectations soon dwindled. Starting with a season-ending knee injury to Jermain Gresham, then Bradford goes down twice early in the season and decides to get season-ending surgery on his shoulder.
Trent Williams, struggled ever bit as much, as the young line that surrounded him and Gerald McCoy and his defense, seemed to be the only true bright spot of the Sooners' season, which ended 8-5 with a Sun Bowl victory over Stanford.
8-5 may be a good season by most schools' standards but with Bud Wilkinson's monster, it is barely enough to keep you employed.
Stoops has finished with eight or less wins twice before in his tenure with the Sooners, 1999 and 2005, each time he won the conference championship the following year.
In 2010, to accomplish that feat again, the players are going to have to step up big.
The Sooners have the talent to match up with anyone but to win another conference championship, someone will have to play lights out.
Let's take a look at who looks most likely to become Sooner of the Year.
The Dark Horses
Ronnell Lewis was highly-touted out of high school despite playing in the extremely small town of Dewar, Oklahoma. He played 8-man all they way through his junior season with only one year of 11-man before arriving in Norman.
Very few players in 8-man get noticed quite as well as Lewis did but he is no average player. Already, earning a ton of nicknames, most of which revolve around the word hammer, The Sooner fans have not been this excited about a players hitting prowess since "The Boz" left town.
He had moms all across No-Cal cringing with his performance in last years Sun Bowl. Not only does he hit hard, it looks like he does it effortlessly, which makes you feel sorry for the first player he really tries to lay out.
He is probably still to young and has too many mistakes to make to be considered a legitimate MVP candidate this season but watch out in 2011.
Is any player on the Sooners' roster more forgotten than Madu? After a 5.8 yards per carry freshman campaign, the promising young RB became a journeyman in 2008-2009. He played well but never really wowed the fans.
Madu, may be the most versatile offensive player they have, after spending a year at receiver in 2009, he is returning home to RB to back up Demarco Murray.
Not to mention he returned 23 kick last season. His versatility may be the key to him having a breakout season in 2009. As a returner and someone they can line up in the backfield as well as the slot, he may have a breakout senior campaign.
Coming into 2009 there were big expectations for Kenney and the young receiving core. Anyone who had youtubed his name knew that he had games at his community college where he had enough big plays to fill a highlight reel twice. However, like most of the Sooners receiving core in 2009, he failed to deliver.
2010 is his last chance to show that he can play at the D-1 level and he has fought his way up the depth chart to grab the third starting spot for receivers.
If not, the Sooners could always use him at kicker, he did hit a 52-yarder in JUCO, the Sooners could of used a few of those in 2009.
6. Quinton Carter
After showing his prowess on special teams in 2008, he received more playing time near the end of the season giving the Sooners a much-need intimidating presence for receivers coming over the middle.
In 2009, he had a great year with 88 tackles and four interceptions.
In 2010, he becomes the unquestioned leader of a young but talented secondary. Before Franks and Jackson locked down the corner spots, the secondary was always the big question for OU.
With those two corners gone, the secondary will be tested constantly and OU will need a big year from Carter to keep it together.
5. Ryan Broyles
In 2010, he is not only the best receiver on the Sooners, but also the best in the conference.
Last season, Ryan Broyles was the only Sooner receiver who could be counted on consistently and this year expect that fact to be stuck in the back of Landry Jones' head.
With two newcomers joining him on the first team, expect Broyles to be the favorite target yet again in 2010. He has the speed to break a big play any time he touches the ball.
In 2009, he had 89 catches for 1120 yards and 15 TDs. Expect those number to be eclipsed this year.
4. Jeremy Beal
After introducing himself emphatically to the nation in the 2008 Texas Tech game, Jeremy Beal may have had the best 2009 no one ever heard of.
In 2009, he got in on 70 tackles, 19 for a loss and 11 sacks from his DE position.
Those kind of numbers are often put up by blitzing linebackers but seldom by members of the defensive line.
Another year of improvement may see him become the best DE in the nation, which is highly needed for this squad with so much uncertainty at the DT position.
3. Landry Jones
in 2009, Landry Jones pulled a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde act. He was unexpectedly catapulted into the spotlight a year too early when Bradford went down twice early in the season with shoulder injuries.
To say that Jones struggled heavily in 2009, would be to forget he was just a freshman and lets face it, Bradford made Sooner fans forget what freshman QBs are supposed to look like.
Bradford played with a senior's poise from the moment he stepped on the field in Norman.
As good Jones looked at home last year even eclipsing passing records, he looked every bit as bad on the road.
At times, it was just plain baffling, against Nebraska he faced little pressure but still managed to throw five interceptions.
No single player is more important to the Sooners' success than is Jones.
If he does not get better on the road, the Sooners struggle again this season.
However, Josh Heupel has made worse QBs look much more consistent, and I figure a full year working with Heupel as the starter, mixed with the season of experience he was never supposed to get, will do Landry good in 2010.
2. Demarco Murray
Staying healthy has always been the only hole in his game. His talent simply cannot be denied.
As a sophomore, he broke 1,000 yards rushing, despite missing a ton of carries due to injury. In 2009, those problems persisted.
If he can get through 2010 unharmed, we are maybe talking 2,000 yards and a Heisman. With Chris Brown's departure, he will be the sole featured back in 2010 for the first time in his career.
Prior to 2009, Stoops was saying that he had the talent to be every bit as good as Adrian Peterson. He may have to be, if the receivers continue to struggle. The line should be better this year and may be able to open a few holes.
Murray has the speed where he does not need huge holes opened up for him, small ones will do just fine, which if 2009 is any indication, that should be all he expects.
1. Travis Lewis
Defense will most likely be the key to the Sooners success in 2010 and it all starts and ends with Travis Lewis.
Lewis has amassed 253 tackles in his two years wearing crimson and cream, leading the Sooners in both his freshman and sophomore seasons.
A hundred tackles would be considered a bad year for Lewis; he has raised the bar that high.
With Ryan Reynolds graduating and Austin Box missing the start of the season, he will need to be the leader of the defense.
He seems to have no problem with that tag, as he has been the vocal and emotional leader of the team all off-season.
Tom Wort and Ronnell Lewis both look to start for the first time this season, giving the Sooners both one of the most talented and one of the most green linebacker corps in the country.
Mix in a young secondary and Travis Lewis will need to be all over the field on nearly every play. However, the past two seasons, he has proved he is more than capable of doing just that.
If anyone is the front runner to be the Sooner of the year, it is Lewis, hands down.
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