Oklahoma mailbag: Kennedy Brooks’ spring performance opens eyes
DieHards tackles the best questions from Oklahoma fans. Look for our Oklahoma question of the day Monday through Friday. Join the conversation by sending your questions to @john_shinn, by email to John at email@example.com or at the Oklahoma DieHards Facebook page.
Ro Jones asks: ‘Will Kennedy Brooks play a lot this season?’
The spring game was an impressive debut for former 4-star recruit Kennedy Brooks. He showed the ability to find holes and slip tackles en route to 109 rushing yards on 11 carries on Saturday.
“That’s what he does every day in practice,” Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley said. “He has a unique running style. He slides through there. It looks kind of easy, and then he’s out. He’s pretty smooth and a really natural runner. We have to get the other parts of his game to continue to develop. … You can tell what he does well. Now he has to develop the rest of his game.”
Brooks is a very talented running back. He rushed for 2,865 yards and 40 touchdowns in just 11 games as a senior at Mansfield (Texas) High School in 2016.
But the last part of Riley’s description is the important one. Where he ranks as a ball carrier is up for debate. But according to running backs coach Jay Boulware, he’s clearly behind Rodney Anderson, Trey Sermon and freshman T.J. Pledger as a receiver and blocker.
That’s not surprising. Most running backs are not asked to do those things in high school and Brooks didn’t practice last season due to a shoulder injury.
Historically, being the spring game’s leading rusher is rarely a harbinger of great things to come. Anderson was a healthy scratch because Oklahoma’s coaching staff wanted to make sure he’s healthy. It looks liked they dodged a bullet with Sermon’s injury, but Saturday was likely the last time he plays in the spring game.
But, yes, Brooks will play next season. It’s been years since one of Oklahoma’s top two running backs didn’t miss multiple games due to an injury.
Remember how the injury to Abdul Adams opened the door for Rodney Anderson to ascend to the top spot last season? Expect — or at least prepare for — more of the same.