Stoops, teammates talk about Knights rise

Five days after Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops named Trevor Knight the Sooners' starting quarterback in a press release he took to the podium to speak with local media at in the East Side Stadium Club at Memorial Stadium about his decision.
Stoops said the young Knight proved to be more consistent than the older Blake Bell in fall camp this month. Knight showed the kind of tools Stoops and his staff believe will give the Sooners the ability to win championships.
But Stoops also said he'd saw the traits of a starting quarterback in Knight last fall when Knight ran the Sooners' practice team. He witnessed Knight's speed, his leadership, his day-to-day attitude and believed then Knight could compete for the starting job -- and win.
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"We knew. All of us watching practice a year ago would sometimes shake our heads and say, 'Wow, you see that, what he just did,'" Stoops said. "He just threw it into a little space, and he was making plays like that in practice quite often."
Stoops tempered his praise of Knight's abilities as a scout team quarterback by acknowledging Knight was reading a play card and the decision for what he should do with the football was mostly made for him before he lined up under center.
The fact remains, though, Knight was named Co-Scout Team Player of the Year in 2012, an honor he shared with another redshirt freshman expected to see playing time: wide receiver Derrick Woods. Four months from now Sooner fans will know if Knight can play the kind of football that will add more significant hardware to his trophy case just like his predecessors did.
In his first season as OU's starter, former Sooner Sam Bradford was named Sporting News Freshman of the Year and a finalist for the Manning award, an honor given to the nation's top quarterback. Former Sooner Landry Jones came into a season he was expected to serve as a backup and ended up the Big 12's Offensive Freshman of the Year.
The bar set by quarterbacks in the Stoops era is high, but that's one of the reasons Knight chose to come to Norman: to find out how he measures up.
Senior linebacker Corey Nelson believes Knight measures up just fine. He says the comparisons of Knight to Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel are apt.
"Man, the dude can run," Nelson said. "That's one thing. I feel like if you put him in Texas A&M's offense the same way they have with Manziel, and if you take Manziel out, it'll be the exact same Texas A&M offense that they have because his skills are equivalent to Manziel's [skills]."
As for Oklahoma's offense, Nelson said it continues to show multiple looks to the defense with Knight at quarterback. Nelson couldn't say what specific area the offense exceled in though.
Senior center Gabe Ikard said he could remember several instances from this summer where Knight showed him that he had the attributes needed to lead Oklahoma.
"Trevor, in a couple of the scrimmages, just made some really big plays with his feet and with his arm," Ikard said. "Just really impressive stuff. He's a very gifted athlete, so just Blake and Trevor both worked extremely hard."
Ikard made it clear Monday he's on board with Stoops' decision but would not comment on how the rest of the locker room took the news of the redshirt freshman earning the nod over Bell, the junior with experience.
Senior fullback Trey Millard is Bell's roommate. He said Bell is taking the news in stride, and though he's disappointed Bell knows he still has an opportunity to contribute mightily to the offense.
After all, with Knight becoming the No.1 on the depth chart, it has fallen to Bell to continue to push Knight in practice.
Knight won't have the luxury of being complacent.
"Moving forward he knows he still has a chance to play," said Millard of Bell. "He's definitely still going to continue to compete just so when he gets the opportunity he'll be ready to come in and play well."
Standing at the podium with dozens of cameras and reporters around to hear, Stoops said he expects nothing less from Bell.
"He understands, too, you never know what's going to happen," Stoops said. "He's going to keep working for it, and we need him to."