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April 12, 2014

Five players to watch in Sooners Red-White game

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With no quarterback controversy- or atleast there isn't one that we are aware of- Oklahoma's spring game kicksoff this afternoon still reaping from the benefits of a Sugar Bowl-high.

Even without the likes of sophomore wide receiver Sterling Shepard, Bedlam hero quarterback turned tight end Blake Bell, and a number of other projected 2014 starters or contributors there remains plenty of story lines heading into Saturday afternoon's annual Red-White tilt.

SoonerScoop.com's Eddie Radosevich takes a quick look a five players that Sooner fans should keep an eye on Saturday as a number of youngsters in the Oklahoma program show out in front of a packed house for the first time.

5.)Devante Bond - Linebacker, 6-1, 232 - Junior
Analysis: Since the day he officially signed his letter of intent Oklahoma fans have been ready to get outside linebacker Devante Bond on campus. Alas the wait is over; after a successful second attempt to reel in the prized JUCO linebacker. The only of Oklahoma's three 2013 signees at the linebacker position currently on campus after transferring in from junior college, Bond has the makings of a player that should give instant production. The only question that remains is how Mike Stoops- and linebackers coach Tim Kish- will use the talented outside linebacker. Bigger, more physical play on the edge is a must from Bond, who recorded 77 tackles with 17 sacks and three fumble recoveries for Sierra C.C. last season, and the rest of the OU linebacker corps moving forward. Geneo Grissom's move to linebacker is an interesting addition to help defend the run but it doesn't answer how Bond will fit in on a Sooner defense that holds extremely high expectations in 2014. This should be a player you want to watch all afternoon.
4.)Matthew Romar - Def. Tackle, 6-0, 278 - RS Freshman
Analysis: Staying on the defensive side of the ball we arrive at a player that currently flies under most fans radar. Redshirt freshman defensive tackle Matt Romar. Classmate Charles Walker has been the recipient of accolades through print and social media but it's Romar who worked with the 1s during Thursday's open practice session. Giving up an inch or so to Walker in the height, Romar spent his freshman season maturing more mentally than physically. Serving as youthful reminders are Romar- and Walker- allowing the Sooner coaching staff confidence to claim the defensive line in the country calls the Switzer Center home. A far cry from a season ago when Stoops, whether he wants to admit it or not, made a move to part ways with Jackie Shipp. Current defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery role doesn't need to be explained in the development of Jordan Phillips, Jordan Wade, and Charles Taper thus setting a high bar expectation for the youngsters in the position's meeting room. Look for both- Romar and Walker- to have big afternoon's on Saturday versus a thin interior offensive line.
3.)Alex Ross - Running Back, 6-1, 221, RS Freshman
Analysis: He's been emphatic about it when asked. As have his coaches and teammates. Alex Ross is ready to take the next step as a running back at Oklahoma. The wait has been exhaustive carrying the ball just three times for 39 yards during his first 3 seasons in Norman. Ross calls it a learning process. The departure of Brennan Clay, Roy Finch, and Damien Williams has cleared the path for- what will become- a loaded backfield in terms of bodies. Knight told reporters there isn't a player on the team that will out work the big framed 'back. Add a 4.4 40-yard dash to the former Mr. Everything-at-Jenks' resume and it's easy to see the intrigue. I saw it first hand while covering Alex many times throughout his high school career. Running backs coach Cale Gundy issued a public challeng to Ross on National Signing Day when he spoke about the signing of prized Rivals100 product Joe Mixon and four-star RB Samaje Perine. With their arrival still a few months away, Ross has turned in- what sounds to be- a very solid spring. Don't doubt the fact that even though its just a spring game Ross will be looking to make a statement to rest of the running back stable as well as Mixon who will be in attendance this weekend.
2.)Cody Thomas - Quarterback, 6-4, 215 - RS Freshman
Analysis: Sooners fans are well aware of the cliche line: Quarterback (insert name) is only one play away from coming into the game. It happened in 2009 when Landry Jones was forced into action. It happened a season ago as the see-saw battle between Trevor Knight and Blake Bell unfolded. OU is nowhere without either player after Bell sent the Sooners to the Sugar Bowl with a two-minute drive for the ages in Stillwater. Knight's play in the Superdome has been documented- I think. What we know about Cody Thomas? Not much. That's no fault to the former Colleyville (Texas) Heritage star, either. What has been clear during Thomas' first full year in Norman is the fact he has left an impression on the Sooner coaching staff. OU defensive backs spoke of Thomas ability to move the scout team offense during the season; even more so during the Sooners bowl prep as he played the role of Alabama's A.J. McCarron. Thursday during the Sooners open practice he led a scoring drive that ended with a Michael Hunnicutt field goal. Splitting time between the football field and baseball diamond this spring has led to low production numbers with a bat in his hand. But that won't make Bob Stoops or Josh Heupel shed a tear anytime soon. Thomas will need to be ready to play at a moments notice. His first taste of real action in front of the Sooner faithful comes Saturday.
1.) Dimitri Flowers - Fullback, 6-1, 234 - Freshman
Analysis:Elated. Special. Mature. All words that Oklahoma coaches have used when describing Dimitri Flowers. An early enrollee out of San Antonio (Texas) Churchill High School Flowers has been the talk of spring camp. Comparisons to Trey Millard (CAREER 98 car. 538 yards (5.5 avg) 70 rec. 677 yards (9.7 avg.) 13 TDs) have already- and will continue- to be made as he wraps up his first spring session in college. Grabbing 56 recpetions for 1,056 yards as a senior at Churchill, Flowers offers a skill set that rivals Millard, OU WR coach Jay Norvell marveled at his ability to find space calling him a 'natural reciever'. With a young, unproven wide receiver corps., it could be Flowers that Trevor Knigh relies on as an outlet out of the backfield. This aided by the Sooners apparent attempt to reenergize the tight end position and increased focused in the run game and it's also easy to see why Flowers liked the plan that was laid out in front of him prior to committing to Oklahoma. Expect to see Flowers used in a multitude of roles whether it be with his hand on the ground in the backfield, split out in the slot, or as a lead blocker in the run game. Make Flowers one of your top priorities on Saturday.

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