Jucos to play big role for OU

OU offensive guard Dionte Savage

The Sooners signed five junior college recruits last year. There's no guarantee all five will start, but they're playing their way into the conversation.

All the focus this summer for Oklahoma regarding junior college players has been on offensive tackle Josiah St. John and defensive tackle Quincy Russell.

But OU coach Bob Stoops made sure people aren't forgetting about two more offensive linemen in Dionte Savage and Tony Feo.

"They definitely are guys that have the ability to play in this league and play well," Stoops said. "They'll be in this rotation and if not fighting for starting jobs."

The only question is when Russell will report to campus. St. John officially arrived in Norman, Okla., last week and is practicing with the team. Russell still has some unfinished business, but Stoops remained positive about everything taking care of itself in the next couple of weeks.

"He's still finishing some classes," Stoops said. "We're hopeful that will be finished next week. We're a long way from classes [at OU], and we expect him to hopefully be done next week."

The sooner, the better with Russell. OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops didn't tiptoe around the fact the most inexperienced group he has with defensive linemen. And taking that a step further, defensive tackle is a major question mark across the board for the Sooners.

The addition of Russell was supposed to alleviate some of those concerns. If he does arrive on schedule as Stoops hopes, he will have to obviously pick things up fast to make that immediate impact so many have pegged him to be able to make.

Hunnicutt handling his business

A lot of the focus goes into the offense and defense, but Bob Stoops took some time to discuss special teams and especially kicker Michael Hunnicutt.

There isn't any drama at this spot as Stoops has been pleased with how Hunnicutt has looked to open camp.

"In the first three days he has been basically perfect," Stoops said.

OU fans know Hunnicutt is the guy, but punter was a question mark for this year's group. Stoops didn't name a punter, but he did say Jed Barnett is progressing really well.

Barnett, another juco signee, struggled a bit in the spring but has started to put it all together here.

The return game is another part where there aren't any concerns. Brennan Clay and Roy Finch did a formidable job last year as kick returners and Jalen Saunders is one of the more explosive punt returners in the nation.

Sterling Shepard is in that conversation for punt returner as is freshman Stanvon Taylor.

"Stanvon can do a little bit of everything," Mike Stoops said. "I don't know if I can compare him to one player I've coached, but he has shown great maturity so far."

And now with OU hiring a full-time special teams coach in tight ends coach Jay Boulware, this shouldn't be a unit that causes any stress for the Sooners going forward.

‘A more athletic defense'

One thing Mike Stoops referred to was the goal of the 2013 recruiting class was to get more athletic defense. Three days into practice, and he believes they've achieved that goal.

"I thought we were too predictable last year," Stoops said. "We need to develop quality depth all the way around."

Stoops spoke highly of Taylor and Hatari Byrd but also had some encouraging words about freshmen linebackers Jordan Evans and Dominique Alexander.

Neither Evans nor Alexander were full-time linebackers in high school so there was no way of knowing how they'd pick up the schemes. So far so good.

"Jordan and Dominique fly to the football," Stoops said. "They're not robotic at all."

Things are a little easier for Stoops as well. With Bobby Jack Wright moving from defensive ends coach to cornerbacks, it frees Stoops to coach the defense more.

"Coaching six guys and coordinating the defense was a tough task," Stoops admitted.

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