As players get ready to check in for summer classes in Norman, and offseason workouts get into full swing, Bob Stoops has released a pre-summer depth chart for the first time in quite some time.
Stoops has released depth charts in the past during the offseason, but it usually didn't signal good news.
Does anyone remember when Stoops released a depth chart with the purpose of letting everyone know Brent Rawls had gone from competing for a starting job to sitting in the cellar of the QB ratings?
This time around, Sam Bradford's job is still secure as the starting quarterback at OU.
This release doesn't appear to be laced with any mind-blowing revelations, but there are some interesting bits of information which can be gathered from the newest depth chart.
Wort and Bird have been two of the more impressive early enrollees since the practice started several years ago.
Brent Venables hasn't been able to say enough good things about both players, along with freshman Ronnell Lewis.
That Wort sits second on the linebacker depth chart behind Mike Balogun is one of the more interesting aspects of the pre-summer depth chart.
Balogun looked to be a serious contender for the starting middle linebacker spot coming out of the spring, but where did Ryan Reynolds and Austin Box go?
Both were injured and didn't participate in the spring. That could be what has bumped up Wort to the No. 2 spot. But you can also bet it's a pretty good pat on the back for two players who are working their tails off in the offseason.
It's been no secret that Stoops isn't happy with the work ethic displayed by some of his players. Look no further than the dismissal of Alex Williams to show how serious Stoops is this year.
Wort and Bird are being rewarded for how hard they are working and how well they are adjusting to the college game.
Does that mean Wort will be the starter next season if Balogun goes down? Heck, it doesn't even mean Balogun will be the starter. Reynolds and Box are too good to just sit behind a true freshman when things really matter.
I'd say it's more likely we'll see Jaydan Bird playing behind Travis Lewis in 2009 than Wort playing behind Balogun, Reynolds or Box.
TYLER EVANS IS ALREADY A BACKUP OFFENSIVE GUARD
Kevin Wilson recently told me that he believes Tyler Evans can play this year at the guard position.
Stoops backed that up by releasing him as the No. 2 offensive guard on the right side of the line, behind Stephen Good.
The release of Alex Williams and some grumblings about other linemen still not carrying their weight in the offseason, means OU will have to count on players like Evans, as well as junior college transfers Tavaris Jeffries and Jeff Vinson.
Wilson also believes Josh Alandoye could see playing time this year as well at tackle.
The starters are almost set in stone along the offensive line. Brian Lepak is listed as the backup center to Ben Habern, but he will help to backup both of the guard positions in 2009.
Jeffries is the one player who can make OU better on the line if he comes in and plays well at one of the guard positions.
It's also a critical summer and fall for Donald Stephenson. He can set himself up as a two-year starter at the tackle spot if he can do all the things the coaches have asked of him.
If Stephenson doesn't make that move, Vinson could pass him up before the Sooners take the field against BYU.
GRANGERS INCLUSION ON THE DEPTH CHART IS GOOD NEWS
Demarcus Granger shows up on the new depth chart as the No. 2 defensive tackle behind Adrian Taylor.
That can't be bad news. For Stoops to include Granger on the depth chart signals something in their hopes for a return. Coaches say things are going well for Granger and they're confident he'll be able to play next season.
You can bet if he was struggling with his comeback from back surgery, he wouldn't be put on this list.
Don't read anything into Jamarkus McFarland's exclusion from the depth chart. I wouldn't expect Jackie Shipp to put a freshman on that list. And the defensive line has better leaders than the offensive line. As a group, they aren't going through some of the offseason struggles the offensive line has suffered.
ONE SURPRISE NAME
Although he hadn't been included during the offseason on SoonerSports.com's official roster, Jamell Fleming's name re-emerged on the official depth chart as Brian Jackson's backup at corner.
He's now included on the official roster. But with so many talented youngsters entering the program, it may be a sink-or-swim fall for Fleming.
Emmanuel Jones is also making a push for playing time as he's listed behind Quinton Carter as the No. 2 free safety.
No Joseph Ibiloye just yet. But he's not too far behind those guys.
The defensive depth chart is much more cut-and-dry than the offensive depth chart. The offensive side lists 4 backup battles that are unsettled with an "or" designation, while the defensive side lists no such designations.