McNamara Spring Game Breakout “Star” Candidates

Image via Sooner Sports

In recent years, it has seemed like there is typically a somewhat unheralded player who has a “breakout” performance during Oklahoma’s annual Red/White game. It’s usually a guy the casual OU fan may or may not be all that familiar with, but after the spring game it’s a name they tend to remember.

Sometimes it carries over to the actual season (see Dom Whaley), while other times it proves to be just a brief moment in the sun (see Marshall Musil). However, even if it’s just for that one day it’s always fun for OU fans to get an opportunity to see some of the younger and/or unheralded players get a chance to make a name for themselves.

So with that, we wanted to make a few predictions of our own as to who Saturday’s breakout performance candidates might be and then get some predictions from you.

This list might wind up being a little heavy towards the offensive side of the ball, but that’s only because I kind of have a feeling, in this type of setting, it’s a little easier for that side of the ball to stand out. I could be wrong, especially with what we’ve heard coming out of practices and strong the defense has been, but I suppose we’ll find out for sure on Saturday.

Just a reminder, these predictions are strictly for the Red/White game itself. They are not a prediction of a strong performance on Saturday translating to the coming season. On to the candidates:

* KJ Young (WR) – Made a number of acrobatic catches throughout his high school career. We’ve heard his name quite a bit in our practice reports. And, at this point, I’m expecting Sterling Shepard and Durron Neal to be held out of the game, which means more playing time for the other receivers. I’m thinking he could get behind the defense for a big play or two, maybe even a long TD.

* Baker Mayfield (QB) - Again, this is just kind of a gut feeling. I’ve heard some say if the season were to start today and, of course, if Mayfield were eligible, there’s a very good chance he’d be the No. 2 quarterback behind Knight based on how well he’s performed in practices. He can run around a bit and has a good arm, maybe pulls off some big gains extending plays with his legs.

* Devante Bond (LB) – I’m not aware of an OU fan who isn’t incredibly excited to see what this guy is capable of, and we get our first real chance on Saturday. One advantage to this type of setting for a guy like Bond, with the blue jersey, you only have to get a hand on the QB to record the sack and/or tackle for loss.

* Daniel Brooks (RB) – I know the more obvious choice here would be Alex Ross, but he’s a guy everyone has heard of and already expecting big things from. And while he hasn’t done that yet, would it really be a surprise if he does? I’d say no, which is why I am going with Brooks here. He’s one of the fastest players on the team and I expect him to get plenty of snaps once Bob pulls Ford and Ross for the younger guys.

* Taylor McNamara (TE) – If the talk is to be believed, the tight end has become a renewed focus of this offense. Now that Bell will not be taking part in the game, McNamara is the most obvious candidate at the position to standout. I could totally see him getting a bunch of catches, then six months worth of articles and message board threads about said articles proclaiming how big a role the tight ends will play in this OU offense.

Alright, that’s who we’ve got but we want to hear from you. Hit us up in the comments with your predictions.


  • madbrad

    Carter Whitson’s younger brother

  • Sooner Ray

    I would expect Flowers and Thomas to both look good in the spring game.

  • SoonerPhins

    Dimitri Flowers and Derrick Woods would be my picks on Offense and Charles Walker and Devante Bond would be my picks for Defense.

  • Cary Newman

    David Smith

  • thegoodmagneto(CJ)

    Jerad Estus ;)…..No really I am pulling for Alex Ross, Derek Woods and 1 of the 2 young Safety’s Byrd or Thomas to establish themselves.

  • J.K. Abbott

    Derek Woods

  • Grandadsooner

    Derrick Woods

  • Zack

    Stanvon Taylor will solidify himself as the #2 corner.

  • Jason Vos

    I’m going with Derrick Woods

  • BigJoeBrown

    Charles Walker – After everything we’ve heard, I wanna see what’s behind the curtain.
    Derrick Woods , KJ Young and any other receiver – Who has no dropped balls or makes great grabs.

  • Doobie74OU

    I think maybe Jordan Smallwood. He makes

  • ToatsMcGoats

    I’m on the Dimitri Flowers and Charles Walker side here. I’ve heard so many good things about the two of them that i would be disappointed if they didn’t have a great showing, I guess. I think Bond will be up there as well…GAWD I CAN’T WAIT!!!!!!!

  • jotay21

    Jordan Smallwood. Hope to see some real physicality from our WR’s this year and he has the build to be a nightmare.

  • Jordan Esco

    A lot of good names out there. Another I thought about including was Dakota Austin. Obviously he, Taylor, and Johnson are all battling it out for that other CB spot and while I wouldn’t expect Saturday to decide anything, big day from any of those three could certainly only help their chances.

  • Daryl

    My brother has some connections to staff and I think Smallwood on offense, Defense I think will be Byrd, but I really want to see Dakota Austin.

    I also heard that QB’s overall have not looked very good and offense has really struggled. Question from there is is the defense that good or offense that bad.

    All in all it should be a really fun weekend.

    • soonermusic

      no way to know, but I’d imagine the latter–problems with the offense. More new pieces in areas where timing and familiarity are key. I bet it starts to swing the other way come fall.

    • Lesslie Stanford

      Don’t put to much into the offense struggling in the spring. In most cases the young guys are getting more reps than the veteran guys. Chemistry is not the same with some of these guys.

    • roygbell

      It is normal for the defense to have the edge in Spring and especially this year, what with all the defensive returners and the offense losing WRs and RBs.

  • hOUligan

    Not sure about ‘breakout’, but on offense, want to see how some of the young olinemen like Farniok, Marrs, Feo, , Grant , Hughes, Savage and St. John are progressing. See Flowers and the other RBs. Smallwood, Bennet and Cavil looked good last year. On D, Walker, of course, Bond, Striker at NB and La Grone. See how Obo and Onuoha are looking. A lot of individuals as we won’t see much for scheme/design.

  • Adrian

    Charles Walker, Isaac Ijalana and Derrick Woods

  • OU_Sooners

    definitely thinking that this will be a defense-dominated game. Really excited to see the QBs, Flowers, TEs, and the D in general. Lots of good/young talent on the Defense.

  • rphdenton

    …….how ’bout quincy russell actually gets on the field and shows something other than the ability to stand a/o sit on the sidelines……….

    • rphdenton

      ….the excitement will have to wait………he’s out

  • roygbell

    I will take Flowers on offense and Walker on defense. My real concern is with Phillips as if he gets his health back and can get back then this defense could be one of OU’s best. Of course Phillips isn’t going to be a breakout player as he has already done that once.