NORMAN, Okla. — Spring practice is over for Oklahoma and so is the spring semester. The Sooners returned to the homes this week where they are free to stay until the team reassembles on June 3 for the start of summer school and conditioning.
It is doubtful much will change between the end of spring practice on April 16 and the start of preseason practice in late July.
There were some experiments that either could turn into results for the 2018 season or be scuttled by the time Oklahoma practices. Some of the position shifting on the offensive line could fall into that category. Also by August, Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley will tailor the offense around either Kyler Murray or Austin Kendall.
Here is a look at Oklahoma’s projected offensive depth as it enters the summer:
1. Kyler Murray (Jr.)
2. Austin Kendall (So.)
3. Tanner Mordecai (Fr.)
Riley said the quarterback race is wide open. But it seems like Murray leaves the spring with the most margin for error. He has been in the system the longest, and the Sooners seem poised to transition into more of a quarterback running game.
Still, the Sooners feel comfortable with Kendall. He was Baker Mayfield’s backup in 2016 and has been in the program for two years. Also, he showed during the spring that he is more than a pocket passer. Kendall can move.
It is doubtful Riley names a starter until the middle of August. Usually, it comes when preseason camp ends and practice changes with the start of fall classes.
1. Rodney Anderson (Jr.)
2. Trey Sermon (So.)
3. Kennedy Brooks (R-Fr.)
4. T.J. Pledger (Fr.)
5. Marcelias Sutton (Sr.)
Anderson was one of the best running backs in the country last season. Remember, he rushed for 201 yards in the Rose Bowl.
He will try to pick up where he left off. And if he can, the Sooners will be hard to stop once again.
Last season was Anderson’s first in which he didn’t suffer a season-ending injury in August or September. He is as fresh as any running back in the country.
Sermon is 1A in the group. He had big carries in 2017 and showed he has poise beyond his years. It will be hard for him to be an every-down back with Anderson there, but Sermon is one of the best running backs in the Big 12.
Brooks was the breakout running back of the spring. The Sooners have confidence handing him the ball. He must improve his receiving skills to become an every-down threat. Pledger will play this season. He has the versatility to get tough yards and make catches out of the backfield. His earliest action likely will be in passing situations.
1. Carson Meier (Sr.)
2. Jeremiah Hall (R-Fr.)
Meier waited his turn behind Dimitri Flowers. There will be a difference. Meier doesn’t possess Flowers’ skill. He is a better blocker. How the Sooners use that will be interesting.
Hall is the more skillful of the two. Both will be used. But it is blocking ability that will determine who gets on the field.
1. Grant Calcaterra (So.)
2. Brayden Willis (Fr.)
It wouldn’t surprise anyone if Calcaterra has a dominant season. He caught 3 touchdown passes last season and played significant snaps. But the 6-foot-4, 224-pound Calcaterra is primarily a slot receiver. Willis likely needs to put on some pounds before he can play anything other than slot receiver.
1. CeeDee Lamb (So.)
2. Charleston Rambo (R-Fr.)
1. Marquise Brown (Jr.)
2. A.D. Miller (Jr.)
1. Mykel Jones (Jr.)
2. Jaquayln Crawford (Fr.)
The two outside receiver spots are locked in. Lamb and Rambo enter the 2018 season as the best returning combo in the Big 12. One of the breakout players of the spring was Rambo. He missed most of last season because of an injury but appears to be fully recovered, adding another weapon to a deep group. Rambo redshirted last season. He is bigger and stronger and gives the Sooners another talented outside receiver.
Slot receiver is interesting because Jones became a bigger factor in the offense in the second half of the 2017 season. The freshman to watch is early-enrollee Crawford. He is quick, fast and dynamic. If there is a freshman who could break into the offensive starting lineup this season, it most likely is Crawford.
1. Bobby Evans (Jr.)
2. Quinn Mittermeier (Sr.)
1. Ben Powers (Sr.)
2. Marquis Hayes (R-Fr.)
1. Creed Humphrey (R-Fr.)
2. Jonathan Alvarez (Sr.)
1. Dru Samia (Sr.)
2. Alex Dalton (Sr.)
1. Cody Ford (Jr.)
2. Erik Swenson (So.)
Offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh created some confusion when he started Evans at right tackle in the spring game. That could have been because he has given up on moving Evans from right tackle, where he played the last two seasons. Or it simply could have been a by-product of the split rosters for the spring game.
That position will impact every offensive line decision. It still looks like Evans is the guy there. The most interesting spring move was giving Ford a look at right tackle. Ford is one of the Sooners’ best guards. Injuries slowed him the last two seasons at guard. Moving him to tackle also could be a signal of Oklahoma’s offensive plans. Ford isn’t the best option against speedy edge rushers, but he can maul just about anyone as a run blocker.
Samia and Dalton will begin this season as one of the best guard tandems in the country. There isn’t a program that can match their experience.
Center is interesting. Alvarez redshirted last season in the hopes of being able to come back as a starter in 2018. But all signs point toward Humphrey taking over at the spot. Physically, Humphrey might have been the Sooners’ best option there during the 2017 season. He just needed to learn the position. Now he has.
Freshman tackles Brey Walker and Darrell Simpson could figure into the depth chart. But it is hard to know that until practice begins at the end of July.