It’s football time in Norman, Oklahoma. The leaves are turning, the temperatures are cooling, and the players are nearly done with summer workouts. Fans are tired of hearing and ready to start seeing. The calendar’s are marked and the big games are circled, only this time, something feels a little different.
There’s a new intensity. A new mindset. Here in Norman, things are no longer the same anymore. Long-time head coach Bob Stoops has handed over the reigns to young successor Lincoln Riley. This mindset that Riley has installed in the players is two simple words. Prove it. It starts with Baker Mayfield’s recent strands of tweets. You’re going to question my wide-recievers? Okay just wait, we’ll prove it. The defense? Youre going to question Mike Stoops and the depth of this defense? Just wait, we’ll prove it.
In most places around the country, you will find two types of teams. You have a team that brings nearly everyone back and are a heavy favorite due to experience and proven ability. On the other hand you have a team full of young guns who can’t wait to get on the field and prove themselves. They may not be in a position to compete just yet, but you can bet money that they are gonna be exciting to watch and ready to make their name known. Now here’s a question: What category do the Oklahoma Sooners fall under? If you’ve been following our friends over at The Football Brainiacs (you should be), the answer should be simple. Both.
This unique group of players all have one thing in common. They want to prove something. Baker Mayfield, extremely experienced, qualified leader, heck of a football player. Offensive line, depth is easy to come by, massive NFL ready guys. Again, experienced and tested to the max. Now look to the wide recievers. This is where the Sooners fall under both categories. CeeDee Lamb and Charleston Rambo will be stars.Right now, they are unproven and somewhat unknown freshmen. That will change when they step foot onto the field September 2nd. They will put their talent and ability on display for everyone else in the country to see. Jeffrey Mead, Mykel Jones and Mark Andrews have been here before, and contributed as role players. Each of them are itching for a chance to break out and be a star. Here is that chance. Mayfield loves the group of WRs saying, “Y’all are going to have to show some respect for my recievers. People saying I don’t have help, say what you want about me. Not my guys. But the great thing about that is, we’re just going to show the world in less than a month.” Exactly. They are ready to prove it.
People will still argue too much talent was lost out of the backfield to compete for a national championship. Dont tell running back coach Jay Boulware that though. “Now, Abdul Adams doesn’t drop anything. He continues to make big catches as do Trey and Rodney. I’m really pleased with where we are. We’ve been working to get to the point where we have a backfield full of guys that can do different things, and that’s what we have.” No matter who the guy is, he will be flowing with talent. Behind the best offensive line in the country, the running back by committee approach should be extremely effective, confusing defenses and catching them off guard with each back’s different specialty. Throw in the second coming of Roy Finch in Marcelias Sutton, now the opposing defense is really searching for answers.
With OU’s mix of experience and raw talent it shows two things. First off, they will know how to finish games. With leaders everywhere, they will be able to start a game just as well as they finish it. Secondly, these young guys provide fire and depth all across the field. They are making everyone work harder because nobody wants to just lose their job. No position is set in stone, but there is so much depth from bottom to top that this team will compete at the highest possible level.
On the defensive side of the ball, Caleb Kelly is a superstar. He has been on the biggest stages and performed incredibly well. On the other hand you have Kenneth Murray. Ultra-talented freshman who is an athletic freak that the coaches simply cant keep off the field. Caleb Kelly will be proving that he is deserving of a first round draft pick while Kenneth Murray will be proving he has All-Big 12 talent. Each member of the defense has different things to prove while all of them are coming together for one big goal. To win a national championship. The secondary will be deep with veterans like Jordan Thomas, Will Johnson and Steven Parker leading the way. Next to them are star young guys just ready to prove themselves in Robert Barnes and Chanse Sylvie. Jordan Thomas raved about Sylive, praising his ability on the field. The coaching staff has been extremely surprised with how solid Robert Barnes is and some expect him to start. Every freshman has impressed 5th year safety Will Johnson who said, “This is the best group of young guys I’ve seen since I got here. There’s not a guy that I can say that he doesn’t look the part. Every young guy shows a lot of flashes.” No matter what position, this Sooners team is loaded with depth and talent everywhere.
The leader of this team, Baker Mayfield, is even extra motivated. To remind himself every day, he keeps a list on his locker of the things he straives to be and do. Be fearless. Be relentless. Never give up. Be a great leader. Outwork everyone. Be a great man. Inspire everyday. Get your team to Atlanta and finish. Be the best player in the country. Make your family proud. Leave your legacy. Don’t have any regrets. Hold the rope. Stay consistent. That right there, that is exactly what you want from your star leader. He has brought all the young guys and experienced veterans together with one single item on the list. Get your team to Atlanta and finish.
This Oklahoma Sooners team is different. The excitement is there, the intensity is there and most importantly, the talent is there. Not only are there seasoned veterans across the field, but there are extremely talented young guys everywhere you look. Each player is trying to prove something. Everyone on this Sooner team has bought into a championship mentality. 2017 is the year of the Oklahoma Sooners. Now we just have to wait less than three short weeks to prove it.
Article by Ross Lovelace