Replenishing the receiver corps is a priority. Sterling Shepard, who had seven touchdowns catches last season, is the lone starting receiver still around from last season.
However, it’s that kind of scenario that stokes Stoops’ fire. This is the chance to see if receivers like juniors Durron Neal and Derrick Woods or freshman coming of out redshirt seasons like Dannon Cavil, Jordan Smallwood and K.J. Young are primed for major roles.
Stoops hopes the situation shakes out on a similar level to what OU’s defensive line did last season. It was a very young group going into the spring. By the end of 2013, it was the strength of a talented defense.
“It’s like last year, we didn’t have any defensive linemen. Well, we did,” he said. “Now we don’t have any receivers and now we do. These guys have been developing, training and ready to take over.”
There are other spots like that. Experienced offensive linemen Tyrus Thompson, Adam Shead and Tyler Evans won’t practice in the spring because of injuries. Neither will defensive tackle Jordan Phillips or nickleback Julian Wilson.
Those are all players who’ve proven they can play at a high level. Now is when players with less experience get a chance to showcase their talent.
“It’s always that way,” Stoops said. “Those guys that have played a little bit or haven’t played at all are really champing at the bit to get out and show they’re ready for it. It’s their time now. That’s why it’s always exciting.”
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