By Eric Bailey • Tulsa World
NORMAN — Oklahoma’s spring football session had a different blueprint this season.
The Sooners held five practices after the April 8 spring game, a schedule move prompted by an unprecedented 11 early enrollees to the program.
“I felt good about (spring practices),” coach Bob Stoops said after Thursday’s final workout. “I think our guys did a nice job overall. No serious injuries. That’s a big thing. I think more young guys got a lot of good snaps that they will learn from. Overall, again, I feel good about it.”
The next three months will be important for the players. How much better can they get without coaching? Team leaders like quarterback Baker Mayfield and safety Steven Parker will be essential to continuing momentum.
The Sooners — who own the nation’s longest active winning streak at 10 games — took important steps forward during spring drills.
Three players who had a breakout spring
Parnell Motley: The sophomore cornerback drew compliments early in spring drills and showed everyone his strengths during the game with an interception and athletic pass breakup. Look for him to press Jordan Parker for the starting job.
Abdul Adams: Lincoln Riley called the sophomore running back one of the most improved players this spring. Why? Because Adams is playing “free” and is playing with aggression. He’s feeding off wide open competition at the running back position.
Kenneth Murray: One of the 11 mid-year enrollees, Murray began the spring at outside linebacker but coaches shifted him to inside linebacker in an effort to get him on the field more often. The spring will help him make a huge vault going into summer workouts and fall camp.
Which pressing issue
The running back position, which has a lack of experience, drew much-needed work during the 15 workouts. While Adams’ emergence was a good sign, getting Rodney Anderson repetitions during the spring was important in getting him back into a flow. Anderson wasn’t allow to absorb contact, but the athletic training staff said he would be available if it was a game week. Freshman Trey Sermon and junior-college transfer Marcelias Sutton — two more of the 11 mid-year enrollees — led the spring game in rushing. The four players will be joined by freshman Kennedy Brooks during fall camp as replacements for Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon are targeted.
The wide receiver candidates are plenty, but will one player emerge as the go-to player as Dede Westbrook did last season? Or will it be a wide receiver-by-committee job for the group of players? Mark Andrews has the most experience (50 receptions, 14 touchdowns), but after him former walk-on Nick Basquine (20 catches) has the most catches. The biggest goal, offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley said, is making sure…