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January 17, 2013

What Did Oklahoma Bring to Norman?

Things may not have always been pretty for the group departing in the class of 2012 in spite of a racuous start including, for some, a trip to the National Championship game following the 2008 season, and then saw the Sooners win their first BCS bowl in nearly a decade that joined a Big 12 title in 2010. However, for every inch of success disappointment was visited upon them two-fold with the injury plagued 2009 season along with the 2011 and 2012 seasons that saw Oklahoma put together solid campaigns but fell short of the preseason goals of not only fans but the team itself. That being said, the Sooners Cotton bowl defeat saw the completion of careers for no fewer than 14 players who were multi-year starters during their 40 wins over the last four years.

NOTE: Any player that finished out his collegiate career will be given at least two stars, for that in and of itself is a significant accomplishment that not every player achieves. Also included are any early entrants into the NFL draft.


Re-ranking Oklahoma's 2011 Senior Class
Jaydan Bird - 2009

High School Ranking:

College Re-Ranking:

Position: Linebacker/Fullback
Hometown: Wichita, Kan.
Height/Weight: 6-2 / 236
Profiles: High School | College
CAREER KEYS: Bird had a few big moments in his career, most notably his performances during the 2011 season when he came in and helped Oklahoma get a few key run stops.

REASON BEHIND THE RANKING: Bird is the type of player that every team needs, filling multiple needs and doing whatever was asked of him. But the unfortunate part is that the rankings don't take any of that into mind and on the field Bird was never a guy who received frequent snaps or even a consistent starter.
Justin Brown - Transfer in 2012

High School Ranking:

College Re-Ranking:

Position: Wide Receiver
Hometown: Wilmington (Del.).
Height/Weight: 6-3 / 209
Profiles: High School | College
CAREER KEYS: Brown was questioned, upon his arrival to Norman, about his hands and ability to catch in traffic. Though Brown had a few drops on the year he was Oklahoma's second leading receiver, made one big catch after another and also shined in the return game - what's not to like about Oklahoma's situation?

REASON BEHIND THE RANKING: Forgetting his ability in the return game Brown's career numbers, in spite of spending his first three years in an offense far less pass-oriented than Oklahoma's, would leave him at No. 7 in Oklahoma career yardage and No. 9 in receptions. Even in just a year it's not hard to imagine how big his impact might have been if he'd have been in Norman from day one.
Daniel Franklin - 2008

High School Ranking:

College Re-Ranking:

Position: Linebacker
Hometown: Mount Airy, Ga.
Height/Weight: 6-2 / 224
Profiles: High School | College
CAREER KEYS: Franklin's biggest contribution came as a senior when he served as Oklahoma's deep snapper and though it isn't a position that always get it's due, it's not one that should be overlooked either.

REASON BEHIND THE RANKING: Much as Bird above, Franklin should be revered for staying with the team even as it became clear his impact would not become what he had once hoped. As a senior his deep-snapping was needed and helpful, but at the end of the day it was his only true impact as a Sooner.
Ben Habern - 2008

High School Ranking:

College Re-Ranking:

Position: Center
Hometown: Argyle, Texas
Height/Weight: 6-3 / 286
Profiles: High School | College
CAREER KEYS: Few times in Oklahoma history has the offense had a more steady and consistent performer at center. Habern's roughly 30 career starts were marked by a high-powered offense and Habern was at the head of the line making many of the calls that helped Oklahoma be among the country's leaders in sacks allowed.

REASON BEHIND THE RANKING: For such a glowing review it's tough to explain Habern being rated as a three-star but the reality is he was never a serious contender for All-American honors, though his injuries may have played a part in that, and those same injuries kept him from ever quite reaching his full potential.
Javon Harris - 2008

High School Ranking:

College Re-Ranking:

Position: Safety
Hometown: Lawton, Okla.
Height/Weight: 5-11 / 206
Profiles: High School | College
CAREER KEYS: Something that has gone unknown, or at least largely unnoticed by many is that Harris tied for the league lead in interceptions (six) during his senior season, and it's among the better single season totals in school history.

REASON BEHIND THE RANKING: Harris was a multi-year starter and did plenty of things to help Oklahoma win through the years but he was not up for serious all-conference consideration much less that of an All-American. Harris was a big-time playmaker but also had a tendency to give up the big play as well.
Lamar Harris - 2008

High School Ranking:

College Re-Ranking:

Position: Defensive Back
Hometown: Gilmer, Texas
Height/Weight: 6-1 / 186
Profiles: High School | College
CAREER KEYS: Harris was a career special teams player and was always mentioned by the coaching staff as a guy on the verge of playing time at cornerback but it just never really came to pass.

REASON BEHIND THE RANKING: While many players on this list were never consistent earners of playing time, Harris was repeatedly passed by younger players and just never seemed to find his groove in Norman.
Demontre Hurst - 2009

High School Ranking:

College Re-Ranking:

Position: Cornerback
Hometown: Lancaster, Texas
Height/Weight: 5-10 / 183
Profiles: High School | College
CAREER KEYS: Without a doubt the play that will stick out in the minds of many is his 55-yard interception return against Texas as the moment when most began to think the team a legitimate national title contender.

REASON BEHIND THE RANKING: Hurst at times played like a truly elite corner but as a senior never seemed quite as dominant as he did earlier in his career. This one was a close call based on a few second team all-Big 12 notices but again this one didn't seem like a guy that had to be a four-star.
Joseph Ibiloye - 2008

High School Ranking:

College Re-Ranking:

Position: Linebacker
Hometown: Garland, Texas
Height/Weight: 6-3 / 218
Profiles: High School | College
CAREER KEYS: Ibiloye was a player that, at times, flashed ability but struggled to ever find out what he was. As he began to emerge in 2010 the Sooners started to go in a different direction with their front seven and his role, again, changed.

REASON BEHIND THE RANKING: As a senior he seemed more than ever out of place getting numerous snaps one week and then being largely unseen the next. Again, it's always to be respected for a player that helped the team and finished out his eligibility but the bottom line is that Ibiloye was never considered a starter, much less a consistent one.
Tony Jefferson - 2010

High School Ranking:

College Re-Ranking:

Position: Safety
Hometown: Chula Vista, Calif.
Height/Weight: 5-11 / 212
Profiles: High School | College
CAREER KEYS: Jefferson had numerous top shelf performances in his career, the three interception effort against Ball State, the big time night against Florida State in Tallahassee, but perhaps as much as any measure of a Sooner, it's how one performs against Texas. Jefferson came up with numerous big plays against the Longhorns including an interception and a sack as a sophomore.

REASON BEHIND THE RANKING: Jefferson was not only a three-year starter that just couldn't be kept off the field who shined on the biggest of stages but was also a player that contended for all conference honors in each of his three seasons.
Lane Johnson - 2009

Junior College Ranking:

College Re-Ranking:

Position: Offensive Tackle
Hometown: Groveton, Texas
Height/Weight: 6-7 / 303
Profiles: Junior College - N/A | College
CAREER KEYS: Maybe it's not a career key but when you look back to Johnson's struggles in his early starts, most notably against Florida State All-American Bjoern Werner, and then match those efforts against his domination of TCU's Devonte Fields and it puts into perspective how far the future top two-round NFL draft pick went.

REASON BEHIND THE RANKING: It's fairly simple, Johnson was one of the country's elite tackles for much of the 2012 season and earned himself several all-conference honors as well as even a few All-American honors. His 2012 season was as good a year as any Oklahoma lineman put together since Trent Williams in 2008.
Landry Jones - 2008

High School Ranking:

College Re-Ranking:

Position: Quarterback
Hometown: Artesia, N.M.
Height/Weight: 6-4 / 218
Profiles: High School | College
CAREER KEYS: Though often maligned, there can be no doubt that Jones had far more great moments than he did bad. Who can forget his clinical work against Florida State in 2010? How about his utter decimation of anything and everything Texas threw at him - for many the mark of greatness of any Sooner career - or the late season run of his senior year that may have been the best football of his career?

REASON BEHIND THE RANKING: Every year there are two or three players that if I could give a half-star, I might. But the bottom line is I have to choose here and while Jones was a consistent all-conference candidate he never seemed to take that next step that his talent made one believe he might. A very good player, but even in spite of all of his stats, 'great' is just a step farther than I'm willing to go.
David King - 2008

High School Ranking:
College Re-Ranking:

Position: Defensive End
Hometown: Houston, Texas
Height/Weight: 6-5 / 286
Profiles: High School | College
CAREER KEYS: King made many plays, particularly as a junior, but perhaps none sticks out more readily than his 19-yard fumble return against Texas in 2011. While his senior year didn't come out as many might have expected his willingness to answer his team's need both inside and outside was truly exemplary.

REASON BEHIND THE RANKING: It's possible that there is no right answer here. He was a second team All Big-12 player by the coaches but never seemed to dominate like it sometimes looked as thought he might have. King had a solid career but was truly only a full-time starter as a senior.
Jamarkus McFarland - 2009

High School Ranking:
College Re-Ranking:

Position: Defensive Tackle
Hometown: Lufkin, Texas
Height/Weight: 6-2 / 288
Profiles: High School | College
CAREER KEYS: McFarland had plenty of big games in his first three years, notably a performance against Texas A&M his freshman year and Iowa State as a sophomore. The big defensive tackle though saved his best season for last putting up career high numbers across the board.

REASON BEHIND THE RANKING: While many players on this list had the look of players who were ready to push, at various times, for more elevated rankings however McFarland never dominated at a level that went beyond three stars.
Stacy McGee - 2008

High School Ranking:

College Re-Ranking:

Position: Defensive Tackle
Hometown: Muskogee, Okla.
Height/Weight: 6-4 / 299
Profiles: High School | College
CAREER KEYS: When McGee was called into duty as a reserve to an injury plagued offensive line in 2009 many began to wonder when he would blossom and though he made plays at times it was something of an indication of what was to come for the former Rivals100 defensive tackle.

REASON BEHIND THE RANKING: Again, this one is incredibly straight forward, McGee was solid contributor and at various times made plays for Oklahoma's defense but only in 2010, as a sophomore, was he even a consistent starter.
Kenny Stills - 2010

High School Ranking:
College Re-Ranking:

Position: Wide Receiver
Hometown: Encinitas, Calif.
Height/Weight: 6-1 / 190
Profiles: High School | College
CAREER KEYS: Few players on this list accomplished more than Stills in his career, his yin and yang style leads some to forget how many big plays he made in his career. If one stands out it would have to be his game-winning touchdown against Florida State in the huge match-up in Tallahassee in 2011.

REASON BEHIND THE RANKING: He was on All Big 12 lists two different years and was one of the country's elite freshman in 2010. Add in that is near the top of Oklahoma's list in almost every category in spite of spending just three years on campus and it begins to put in perspective the hole left by the 'Cali trio' member.
Casey Walker - 2008

High School Ranking:

College Re-Ranking:

Position: Defensive Tackle
Hometown: Garland, Texas
Height/Weight: 6-2 / 309
Profiles: High School | College
CAREER KEYS: Though Oklahoma's run defense wasn't ever dominant in 2012 there is no denying that Walker's presence, or lack thereof, was definitely felt early in the year prior to his return. Sometimes it is absence that makes a player's ability most notable.

REASON BEHIND THE RANKING: Walker was as steady and consistent at defensive tackle as any player in recent memory, something of a Kory Klein-like player. He wasn't a dominant force and as such isn't up for four-star notoriety but there can be little question that he made a positive impact for the Sooners more often than not.
R.J. Washington - 2008

High School Ranking:

College Re-Ranking:

Position: Defensive End
Hometown: Keller, Texas
Height/Weight: 6-3 / 256
Profiles: High School | College
CAREER KEYS: There is no doubt that his run late in the 2011 season left many thinking that the former five-star was ready to bust out. Most notably was his performance against Iowa's eventual first-round draft pick Riley Reiff, an effort that made many believe he was set for a huge senior year.

REASON BEHIND THE RANKING: That moment as a senior never really came and frankly it would have taken a Herculean performance to balance out a career that most had spent wondering when Washington might finally be a true difference maker. That just never happened in spite of several years spent earning snaps to try and do just that.
Tress Way - 2008

High School Ranking:

College Re-Ranking:

Position: Punter
Hometown: Tulsa, Okla.
Height/Weight: 6-1 / 215
Profiles: High School | College
CAREER KEYS: For all of the players that people will talk about in this list, Way may go as the most under appreciated graduate of this class. Something most don't know? Way is Oklahoma's career leader in yards per punt average.

REASON BEHIND THE RANKING: Way, as a special teams player was set in on getting two stars, regardless of his real ability (something that must be kept in mind). Way was a repeat all-conference nominee, though he fell short of it repeatedly. However, he was a four-year starter and made plenty of impact for Oklahoma.
Dominique Whaley - Transfer in 2010

High School Ranking:

College Re-Ranking:

Position: Running Back
Hometown: Lawton, Okla.
Height/Weight: 5-10 / 197
Profiles: High School - N/A | College
CAREER KEYS: Whaley has two moments that clearly stick out to memory, his four touchdown performance against Tulsa and his 64-yard touchdown run against Texas.

REASON BEHIND THE RANKING: Unfortunately just as Whaley seem set to head out to a 1,000 yard season and start taking off he suffered an ugly leg injury against Kansas State which cost him the rest of the 2011 season. Even more unfortunate for Whaley was the emergence of Damien Williams which cost him the chance to make much impact as a senior.
Tom Wort - 2009

High School Ranking:

College Re-Ranking:

Position: Linebacker
Hometown: New Braunfels, Texas
Height/Weight: 6-0 / 237
Profiles: High School | College
CAREER KEYS: There can be little doubt that the Lone Star State native saved his best for the floor of the Cotton bowl as it could be argued that his part in three Oklahoma wins over their most hated rival were the three strongest performances of his Sooner career.

REASON BEHIND THE RANKING: Wort was a multi-year starter who was asked to play a bit out of what may be his most natural position. But regardless, he wasn't a player up for serious Big-12 contention through the years.





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