NORMAN — Spring practice began on Monday, but Oklahoma has several notable players who will be held out due to injuries.
Sooner coach Bob Stoops said center Ben Habern (neck), running back Dominique Whaley (ankle), defensive tackle (Casey Walker) and defensive backs Aaron Colvin (shoulder) and Bennet Okotcha (shoulder) will miss all of spring drills.
Middle linebacker Tom Wort is expected to miss at least the early part of spring drills due to a back injury he suffered during the offseason.
Two surprise additions for spring practice are wide receiver Jaz Reynolds and fullback Aaron Ripkowski. Both were expected to miss spring practices due to late-season injuries. Ripkowski had a broken bone in his back and Reynolds suffered a kidney injury. Both have been cleared to participate.
Starting early: Stoops moved the start of spring practice up a week this year. The reason why was spring break. He wanted the week off from school and practice to fall in the middle of the five weeks OU allocates for the 15 practices.
“My goal was to have six practices and a major scrimmage in before spring break,” he said. “Several reasons for that: getting a chance to spread the practices out more, and if you get a ankle injury or some type of slight injury that might sideline a guy for a week, by the time they go on break and get back, there’s about 10-11 days before they’re on the field again, so you don’t miss as much time with them.”
New eyes: Monday marked the first practice since defensive coordinator Mike Stoops returned to the Sooner coaching staff and linebackers coach Tim Kish joined in January.
Bob Stoops said one good thing about both joining the staff is it gives OU a fresh set of eyes that haven’t been around the program for several years, if at all.
“I think the players all see that they have something to prove to new coaches,” he said.
One thing that hasn’t changed from when Mike Stoops was an assistant at OU from 1999-2003 was the level of his voice. He can still be heard in any crowd.
“I know I heard it a few times today,” offensive tackle Lane Johnson said.
Watching Metoyer: The one offensive player going through his first practice Monday that OU is expecting big things from next season is freshman Trey Metoyer. Stoops said Metoyer has been as good as advertised since being cleared to enroll in January.
“A lot of young guys, they first get here, have a hard time, maybe, handling the pace of everything, and he’s really handled it well,” the coach said. “It’s really been exciting to watch how he’s worked, how competitive he’s been, the work ethic and the physical ability to handle it all, the strength, the running, all of it. That’s exciting. Definitely, we’ll look for him to make a big jump here out on the field with the other guys.”
John Shinn 366-3536 email@example.com