To Shirt, Or Not To Shirt

Image via Bleacher Report

With a majority of Oklahoma’s incoming freshman class now on campus, I figured it was as good a time as any to start speculating who may redshirt or who we’ll see on the field this fall. In the past, I’ve typically been an advocate of redshirting guys unless the time they’re expected to see will truly benefit them from an experience/learning the scheme standpoint. I’ve just always felt it makes more sense to save a year then it does to “waste” the year. And I qualified that term, waste, because in my opinion playing a kid a handful of snaps and/or almost exclusively on special teams throughout the season and essentially burning that year of eligibility is a waste to me.

It’s a bit of a double-edged sword in that there is an argument to be made, at least in my opinion, both in for and against their method. I’ve already made the argument against, but in favor of the practice I’d say is two fold. First, if a kid is practicing on the scout team as a redshirt then they’re not really learning your system. Rather they spend the better part of practice running the system of that week’s opponent. Second, seeing the field early is something Stoops and his staff have used to sell the program to recruits. Telling a kid they’ll have a legitimate chance to play as a true freshman can go a long way. But it means very little if it’s simply lip-service, but Stoops and company have the track record to back up their words.

My stance on things is obviously irrelevant as last time I checked Bob Stoops and/or his staff haven’t been beating down my door to get my opinion on how they manage their roster. So as I put these ‘predictions’ together, know that I’m doing so from their side of things and based on recent history.

So we’ll just run through the class one-by-one and put a percentage on the chances of a redshirt. As always your input is welcome, so feel free to add your take on things in the comments below.

OL Jonathan AlvarezChances of a redshrt: 100%

Barring some significant injuries (*scrambles to knock on wood surface*), it’s pretty difficult to envision a scenario in which Alvarez sees the field in 2014.

WR Mark AndrewsChances of a redshirt: 25%

If I were a betting man, I’d say there will be TE talk for as long as Andrews is on campus. The idea of a guy his size (6″6″ 200+ lbs) working out of the slot, as I’ve seen some predicting he could do at times this year, intrigues me very much. This offense needs some size regardless of where it lines up, and of the three ‘big’ receivers OU signed I think Andrews is easily the most ready to go from a physical standpoint. Frankly, 25% is probably too high.

LB Curtis BoltonChances of a redshirt: 35%

The difference between where I want this percentage to be and where I just put it differ significantly. If you assume he plays a similar role to that of Eric Striker last year and/or the role we’re all expecting Devante Bond to play this year, then a redshirt would seem like a no-brainer to me. However, if you’re a believer in the message board speculation that the coaches may actually see Bolton playing in the middle then maybe the odds of him seeing the field are a little greater. Either way I’d prefer a redshirt year versus a handful or so of snaps in mop up duty and almost assuredly a spot on kick/punt coverage. But there are already whispers of Bolton ‘wowing’ early on in summer workouts, so I suspect he’ll find his way onto the field.

LB Devante BondChances of a redshirt: 0%

Been on campus since the spring, played in the Red/White game, he’s obviously not redshirting. Moving on.

OL Orlando BrownChances of a redshirt: ???

As most of you know, there is some uncertainty at the moment whether or not Brown will qualify. I know what others have reported and while I certainly cannot say they’re wrong, I just know from past experiences if you think you know what the NCAA Clearinghouse is planning to do you’re typically wrong more often than not. Hopefully he has done the work he needed to do, gets cleared, and makes it to campus sometime this summer. Even with OU’s lack of depth at the tackle position, and combined with his expected late arrival (if he makes it at all), I think a redshirt is pretty likely.

OL Natrell CurtisChances of a redshirt: ???

Very similar situation to Brown although their doesn’t seem to be quite as much optimism with the recent news of Curtis signing with a junior college.

OL Alex DaltonChances of a redshirt: 85%

One would have to hope the staff will learn from their mistake of last year in (foolishly, in my opinion) playing Ty Darlington just enough to cost him a redshirt year. If Dalton is the center of the future as many expect him to be, then OU should be able to make due with Darlington and/or Nila Kasitati this season (barring injuries of course).

LB Tay EvansChances of a redshirt: 100%

Linebacker is not a position with great depth, but Evans likely benefit from a year in the weight room. Bright future though.

FB Dimitri FlowersChances of a redshirt: 0%

Has been a standout almost since his arrival and the coaches clearly love the versatility he brings to this offense from the fullback/H-back position.

OL Kenyon FrisonChances of a redshirt: 55%

I know he’s not on campus yet, but everything we’ve heard is that he will be relatively soon. So I’m obviously working under that premise here. In an ideal world you would redshirt him, but 2014 does not appear to be an ideal world for this OU team when it comes to the offensive tackle position. With two seniors ahead of him, Frison — who if he lives up to expectations — could be expected to start in 2015. And you’re not going to want him doing so with no snaps under his belt. So I’m betting the coaches work him in at times this season to try and get him some experience before heading into next season.

DL Courtney GarnettChances of a redshirt: 100%

Unlike at linebacker, the defensive line is a unit in which OU does have a considerable amount of depth. I think it still remains to be seen exactly where Garnett winds up playing, be it as a 3-4 DE or if he can grow into more of a true NG.

DB Marcus GreenChances of a redshirt: 90%

In my opinion this one probably should be 100%, but I think back to somebody like Dakota Austin last year and it makes me hedge just a bit. Green could be a guy like I was describing above, plays very little on defense but “wastes” a year on special teams.

QB Justice HansenChances of a redshirt: 100%

I honestly believe if it came to actually having to make a decision on this, they’d move Blake Bell back to QB before burning Hansen’s redshirt. I could be completely wrong, but if you’re looking at a scenario in which Hansen would have to play then the season is likely a total loss and what sense would make putting him out there? Oh, and this is also assuming on my part that Hansen doesn’t beat out Cody Thomas for the backup QB spot which I suppose could still happen.

LS Wesley HorkyChances of a redshirt: 40%

Maybe I’m just over-thinking it, but I found this one to be a little difficult. I suppose it’s not as though this team had some glaring need at long-snapper, but if you’re considered the best in the country at something that certainly makes you valuable. Physically, he could probably benefit from a year to bulk up but I’m leaning towards the coaches playing him in 2014.

TE Isaac IjalanaChances of a redshirt: 0%

If recent history is any indication, the time he or any TE actually see may be limited but the JUCO transfer is already on campus and will almost assuredly get some snaps this season.

DB Vontre McQuinnieChances of a redshirt: ???

I know there is one report out there that McQuinnie will have to go the JUCO route, but I’ve yet to see anything definitive from a source I trust. So I’m holding off for now, but even if he were to make it to campus a redshirt was pretty much a certainty.

WR Jeffrey Mead Chances of a redshirt: 85%

I’ve seen some say Mead may have the highest ceiling of the three ‘big’ true freshman wideouts OU is bringing in. Only time will tell whether or not that proves to be the case, but what is not disputable as far as I’m concerned is Mead needing a year to add some weight before he’s truly ready to be a consistent threat at this level.

TE Carson MeierChances of a redshirt: 80%

Given the depth chart ahead of them, as far as I’m concerned this should be 100%. And the Union product may very well sit this year, but for some reason I have a feeling the coaches might play him. But that’s just a hunch on my part.

RB Joe MixonChances of a redshirt: 0%

If Keith Ford didn’t redshirt last year with three seniors ahead of him, then it’s almost impossible for me to envision Mixon being held out. If for no other reason than his versatility and exceptional ability to catch the ball out of the backfield.

DL Dwayne OrsoChances of a redshirt: 100%

Remember several months back when Charles Walker was getting all that hype? I think Orso is that guy at the same time next year. If he puts in the work, with his size and athletic ability his ceiling could be just about as high as he wants it to be.

DB Steven ParkerChances of a redshirt: 0%

By all accounts Mike Stoops absolutely loves Parker’s potential and from the second he committed, I believe the plan has been to play him from Day One. Now that doesn’t mean he’ll start right out of the gate, but if he can pick up his assignments it’s not unfathomable to imagine him as a starter mid-to-late in the season. Which is not meant as a knock on some of the other guys in the back end of that OU secondary — I’ve been a proud member of the Hatari Byrd fan club since his arrival and nothing has changed on my end with that — so much as it’s a compliment to the ability I believe the coaches see in Parker.

OL Joseph PaulChances of a redshirt: 100%

Like a lot of young offensive lineman, he’ll benefit greatly from a D-I strength program and coaching from one of the better guys in the country in Bill Bedenbaugh.

RB Samaje PerineChances of a redshirt: 0%

The guy has the build of a third or fourth year guy. He’s physically ready to play at this level, which for any true freshman is quite a statement. Cale Gundy will have his hands full distributing touches and keeping all of these backs happy, but it’s one of those good kind of problems to have.

WR Michiah QuickChances of a redshirt: 0%

As far as I’m concerned, OU has one of the better slot receivers in the country in Sterling Shepard. Quick has elite athleticism and will be a nightmare match-up on the inside. He may struggle with routes some early, but I’d look for Jay Norvell and Josh Heupel to give him some simple things early just to get him on the field and the ball in his hands.

DB Jordan ThomasChances of a redshirt: 100%

Whether he settles at corner or safety, Thomas looks to have a bright future playing and learning under Mike Stoops. I just think it’ll be a year from now before he will see any action.

WR Dallis ToddChances of a redshirt: 45%

Falling somewhere between Andrews and Mead in terms of being physically ready to play at this level, Todd possess an elite ability to high point the football which could prove invaluable for an OU offense that could use a big target on the outside. If Dannon Cavil and Jordan Smallwood were to emerge as consistent threats, I could see where Norvell holds Todd out this coming season. But I’m betting on Todd playing in 2014 and hoping that Heupel utilizes his size down in the red zone.

DB Tito WindhamChances of a redshirt: 100%

Very similar situation to Jordan Thomas.

  • Ed Cotter

    Looks good to me Jordan. Good stuff, thanks for posting. Brown and Curtis make me just shake my head. You know you can ball, you know schools will be looking at you, get it done in the classroom. Oh well.

  • Zack

    Great stuff. Do you think we’ll get back to the hurry up this year? I mean we have to do something to make sure all these guys get touches and they should have fresh legs since there’s so many.

    • SoonerPhins

      I would actually like to see an offense similar to the Sugar Bowl. Some moments they would run the HUNH and other moments they would slow it down and actually huddle. I think that would be the best way to keep the defenses guessing, but just my opinion.

      • Zack

        No doubt I agree the sugar bowl was probably the best offensive play calling I may have seen from ou in this era I hope heupel and norvell can do things week to week to improve the offense.

      • SoonerfanTU

        Agreed. That seems like a good offense that can do it all, and plays to TK’s strengths.

  • Boom

    Back to not redshirting. The kids who come into these top programs are tutored in the film room and work with trainers. Also, most don’t come in at 17 or barely 18. A lot of them are 19 or turning 19 their 1st semester. That’s huge for their bodies to mature. Now their bodies are much different than the players of yesteryear. I see trainers working with kids all the time and it’s a brutal workout.
    Also, you want to be able to keep the cycle going with the limited number of schollys. Skilled position guys have played 7 on 7 since they were 11. They get it and they are not working with some dad who played in 8th grade. I’m in Houston and these kids are off the charts. That said, let them play special teams and get game experience. Also, if the are good enough, play them because they may not be here their sr year if they are that good.
    Mixon, he is young, matter of fact he could be a sr next year in HS. To me, that tells me how talented he truly is and his potential. Good luck to all these young men and may they pursue the perfection that is required at OU.

    • J.K. Abbott

      Those Skelly tourny’s can be a double edged sword. I think it’s more proactive for DC’s / defense then offense. The defense sees a ton of sets and route combos. Some coaches get too competitive and run stuff to be successful in Skelly that wouldn’t be on Friday nights. Teams going empty and taking 5-7 step drops running crossing patterns with X and Z . You go empty and It’s an automatic that I’m bringing one more then you can block so you will have too sight adjust. Empty won’t give you enough time for those outside crossing routes to break. Or defenses run straight two man. Five under man two deep zone exclusively. Teams would gash that with the run game and screen and draw. QB’s and WR’s can develop a false sense of security because they are getting their heads taken off.

  • OUWade

    Do you guys think that distance is a determining factor in whether some guys redshirt? I’ve always worked under the theory that guys who are far from home (or more likely to get homesick) have a better chance to play than a guy with family support nearby. Mainly, in my opinion, because the coaches want to keep them invested in the program and give them something else to concentrate on rather than just sitting the season on the bench or the practice field and having time to think about other options. At least, those are the excuses I make to myself when I see the coaches playing a guy for 3 snaps the entire year, when they have a bright future. I generally see it with skill position guys since quarterbacks and linemen generally know ahead of time that most QBs and linemen end up redshirting.

    Also, since it’s my first post, I think it’s required that I tell you guys what a great job you’re doing and how much I enjoy reading everything on the site!

    • Jordan Esco

      Thank you for reading (and commenting)!

    • Zack

      Great post this reminds me. Does anyone know what happened with LJ Moore was him leaving due to home sick or what?

      • Chase Korenek

        Zack last I heard is sort of what you related to. The whole homesick bit. I think the fact that Hatari was starting to find a home in the defensive backfield while he remained on the sideline may have played a little into it. But yeah I read/think the main reason was to be closer to home.

    • Ryan Reddick

      I was just going to post the same question. I personally feel that distance from home/likelihood of homesickness problems should factor into the decision. It’s vital we keep the talent we bring in and even if it means allowing some special

      • Zack

        Welcome to the discussions both of you. To answer the question about position sessions I don’t know all the ins and outs but for the running backs Cale gundy basically has made that group an open competition each week and he would split the playing time each week based on how practice went. Other than that I don’t know that he would switch it up unless he has an AD/demarco who is head and shoulders above the rest of the backs.

      • J.K. Abbott

        Boom!!!! You are right about the homesickness. When a staff makes a decision to redshirt a player that light at the end of the tunnel gets longer. Players engaged even if it’s just Specials are less likely to be transfers and have grade issues. Have heard Stoops say this when hammered about not redshirting kids. A engaged player is a more focused student athlete and has ownership in the Team. It’s a huge factor since OU has gone much more National in recruiting .

  • bjwalker82

    Heard we got a steal in Alvarez.

    • Chase Korenek

      I really think we did. I’m from the Dallas area close to Mesquite(where Alavarez is from) and I really think he an under the radar kid. He’s a kid that will work work and then work some more to prove he can play at a school like OU. I’m hoping he could be a GREAT steal.

      • bjwalker82

        Apparently some of the coaches said he could start soon if we needed him to.

  • SoonerfanTU

    I little surprised you have most of the Oline recruits redshirting. Are we really that deep on the Oline? For some reason, I had it in my head that 1-2 of these guys would likely need to play some this season.

    • Jordan Esco

      On the interior I’d say they are: Shead, Savage, Feo, Darlington, Kasitati, Evans. I feel like that’s pretty deep.

      Tackle is another story entirely, but I’m just not sure those true freshman will be ready this early.

      • CcrBoomer

        I think i read some where that they moved one of the TE’s to OT ( Green ) i believe it was. Don’t quote me on that tho.

        • Shifty

          Green graduated…your thinking of Grant…he should have good feet…not sure how well he’ll be yet since he’s having to add weight

    • J J

      Despite the injuries etc, they played extremely well the last 3 qrtrs against osu & bama. I would think the coaches feel confident in the ones available…

  • Jason Vos

    RB Depth:
    Keith Ford 5’11 211
    Alex Ross 6’1 221
    Joe Mixon 6’2 215
    Samaje Perine 5’11 238

    Wow good night Big 12

  • Jason Vos

    Does the no ?? for Joseph Paul mean he is on campus now ?

    • Jordan Esco

      Should be.

  • Jason Vos

    Alvarez, Dalton and Paul all need to redshirt, as they would be needed for OG depth in 2015

  • Indy_sooner

    Love this write up guys.

  • J.K. Abbott

    With the increasingly number of kids opting to go into the draft early and wanting to play early I don’t have a problem with Stoops and Co playing kids early even if it’s on Specials. I would expect most of the skillies both ways to get PT. It’s been my experience that Offensive Lineman just aren’t ready to play as Freshman and very few even as Soph unless they redshirt. So if I was guessing most if not all Lineman both ways will redshirt because of the depth on the defensive line and growth needed as a OLineman. And most of the defense and offensive skills will play except for Tay. A year in the weight room and experience will do him wonders.

    • Zack

      To your point about Tay I agree as long as shannon gets cleared to play (I’m expecting a one game suspension possibly 2) and if the linebackers stay healthy. And I think he would be ok with that it would give him more time on campus with his brother.
      And for the longest time I couldn’t find film on mead I just went off of his listed weight and I was like there’s no way he doesn’t red shirt but if he could get to 200 pounds I could see him playing some this year.

      • J.K. Abbott

        I hear you on Mead.

        • Zack

          He’s got surprising athleticism for a guy that big I’m sure basketball helped his development.

          • J.K. Abbott

            I’m with you on both points Zack.

          • Gary Robbins

            Zack, J.K., Sonny – love your posts. Just got home from “:happy Hour” and a little bit of eastern “Oklahoma moon shine”. I’m unsure of IZ,Oz, Cadillac, Jet, Triple, and the other. All I can say is thank you and may OU win every game one game at a time

  • Sooner Ray

    It makes no difference to me who shirts and who doesn’t. This staff has always been good at putting the best on the field to fill their needs and we all know that the very best will leave early anyway. Let’s just play ball already! I’m bored out of my mind with these other sports.

  • J J

    It’s a fun drinking game in the offseason. By October we will be griping about who has played & who hasn’t… Someone will play & contribute a lot (see Colvin, Aaron or Straut, Derrik & we will all be surprised….

  • Sonny Schovanec

    Jordo your concerns about redshirt players learning other teams stuff instead of OU’s because their are on Scout Team isn’t that big of a deal. The scout team script will be mostly OU’s plays and they will use OU’s terminology. Most of OU’s opponents run the same stuff so when OU’s scout team gets the script they will basically running OU’s offense . Most of OU’s opponents run IZ , OZ, and power. Most run a version of the Cadialc route and four vertical vs. three deep and smash against two high. Everyone runs the bubble. Tech and now with Magino Iowa State are very similar. Now it would be different if they played Georgia Tech or a Air Force. That would be OU’s players running something foreign and not getting better at OU’s offense because they run the triple out of Double Slot and even some wishbone.

    • CcrBoomer

      It would be nice to see JH incorporate a little wishbone on short yardage or on the goal line. With the height we have a WR and the running backs we have now it could be very effective

      • Sonny Schovanec

        Especially if they were playing a couple of teams that ran Triple. The Scout team would give the defense a whole lot better look. I hate when we have to play a team that runs a different scheme that we see once per year. Our scout team looks like Ned and the First Reader trying to simulate it.

      • Zack

        They won’t run the old wishbone but they can’t somewhat simulate it with the pistol half diamond and jet sweeps. I look forward the heupel getting creative.

        • J.K. Abbott

          The Jet is another series that is hard to simulate if you don’t run it yourself. The scout looks like a Gunch F&$@k in team D running it. We would roll a flat force to the jet motion. All week in practice we hit the jet in the mouth. First time we saw it live our roll safety got into his roll barely enough for the jet had taken the hand off for about 50.

          • Zack

            Good point this could be why Alabama had trouble with the motions we ran I’m not sure how many jets we ran but we did things I hadn’t even seen us do before.

    • J.K. Abbott

      True story. Any play caller that has a clue will run a version/same concepts as the Cadillac Route against three deep zone. Most teams OC has their favorite sets to run it out of. Same play but different look. Kind of like dressing up your long time girlfriend. Same girl different look. Assuming OU has a passing/route tree they just call it in their terminology using the set their opponent uses anytime they have seen three deep based on their opponents film.

      • J.K. Abbott

        Since so many teams run one back in the big XII they just use A Back to run the flat route on the post hole side versus a pro I Team who runs the FB into the flat. You can run it out of doubles using the slot on the post side as the drag route. Assuming someone is dumb enough to give you three deep versus doubles.

        • Sonny Schovanec

          Heck our OC picks up / steals plays from opponents that looked great against our defense. Plays that we already run but out of other sets. Like Bama runs the Cadilac out of Ace. We have Ace in our package. Just call the play out of Ace using our terminology. We can even just move the FB to the other TE so if the defense is adjusting to our personnel grouping versus down and distance. If we don’t send in another TE and call it Ace the FB knows to go to the other TE away from the call. Ace right he lines up left and vice versa.

  • Sonny Schovanec

    That’s what makes wishbone and double slot teams so tough. The scout team can’t simulate the offense in practice. The timing is a cluster f&$$?k. One of the reasons OU was so successful running the bone is their opponents scout team couldn’t simulate the speed and precision in practice. The defense through the practice week get to thinking this offense is easy defend.

  • soonermusic

    I wonder if it might be that some guys look good enough in practice to get a shot in the games, but it’s hard to judge how a kid will react to full speed D-1, which can’t really be simulated. Some may excel and blossom, and some have issues. The only way to figure that out sometimes is to get them on the field.