December 18, 2009

Sooners Have Needs, but Which is Most Pressing?

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Coming into the recruitment of the class of 2010 there were several needs to Oklahoma's recruiting effort and while the need of wide receiver and offensive line were almost undoubtedly the most pressing needs but with the reality of the spring holding only two scholarship quarterbacks the position has been added as a need.

So now comes the question which position is currently Oklahoma's biggest need, and by result which player?

At receiver Oklahoma returns emerging star Ryan Broyles as well as some talented young receivers like Dejuan Miller, Jaz Reynolds, as well as experienced veterans Brandon Caleb and Cameron Kenney.

To add to the position's depth Oklahoma holds commitments from nationally regarded receiver Justin McCay along with two players from some of Texas' best high school programs Sheldon McClain of Cibolo (Texas) Steele and Dallas Skyline's Joe Powell. Added to the equation is perhaps the fastest player in the state of Texas, Trey Franks of Orange (Texas) West Orange-Stark.

The group of receiver commitments is probably as talented of a group as any in the Bob Stoops era while they continue to pursue two of the nation's elite pass-catchers Kenny Stills of Carlsbad (Calif.) La Costa Canyon and Fort Worth Dunbar's Darius White.

With Stills a little over 24 hours from announcing his collegiate decision he could bring the need at receiver to a close. Even though White will continue to be pursued his announcement on Jan. 2 might be seen as a risk-free situation, should he select the Sooners, great, if not Oklahoma's class will already hold five receivers who bring plenty of skill to the table.

As such it's hard to call this position a need because the group would, with a pledge from Stills, go five-deep of playmakers to add to a unit that in spite of many hiccups showed signs of life as the season wore on.

So what about the offensive line?

Obviously it became the team's Achilles heel as the season wore on but it's hard to know how much of that problem is attributed to youth and injuries as the lack of talent. One thing that is sure is depth is going to be a real issue for the Sooners but will be somewhat addressed by the mid-term enrollment of long-time commitments Bronson Irwin and Austin Woods.

Further reinforcements will be added in June when Adam Shead, Tyrus Thompson, and Darryl Williams report to campus.

However, it's completely within reason to consider that Oklahoma has it's biggest need at offensive tackle and while Irwin could compete at the right tackle position neither Williams or Thompson are going to be physically ready to handle the rigors of Big 12 football without a year of Oklahoma's strength and conditioning program.

To the end of finding more immediate aid the Sooners have looked into the junior college ranks but have already struck out on Visalia (Calif.) College of the Sequoias four-star Roszell Gayden who chose Auburn on Wednesday.

The Sooners aren't out of suitable options with the nation's No. 3 junior college prospect, Fullerton (Calif.) Fullerton C.C. offensive tackle John Cullen still giving the Sooners a hard look after an official visit last weekend. However there is still some argument that even more lineman could be used should Cullen be added to the fold; it's hard to believe six recruits at a single position could leave the Sooners potentially still short-handed.

Meanwhile at quarterback the Sooners were thought to have their needs wrapped up when Blake Bell committed to Oklahoma last summer however it was Bell who succinctly wrapped up the Sooners need when talking about Oklahoma becoming involved with Cameron Newton of Brenham (Texas) Blinn C.C.

"They have two quarterbacks going into the spring, so they need someone out there to help," Bell said.

Still though when looking at quarterback Newton's talent is hard to ignore, so much so that some could argue that his chance to be Oklahoma's starter next year over incumbent Landry Jones is an even bet.

As such it's clear that all three positions are in need of improved play next year at quarterback there is no reason to think Jones won't make strides whether Newton is on the roster or not even if some more competition might push him a bit further.

At receiver the Sooners have a star on the rise and several young players who showed flashes of brilliance and have commitments who bring real promise to Norman.

And while the Sooners have talent on campus along the offensive line it failed to show much of that talent through 2009 or any real progression as the season wore on. When you consider that maybe two of Oklahoma's young commitments, Bronson Irwin and Adam Shead might truly be ready to help out next year it seems clear Oklahoma's most pressing need is finding someone to protect, Jones, Newton, or even redshirt freshman Drew Allen.

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