Sooners focus on defense, looking for next QB
FEB 06, 2013 6:15p ET
And that question could be answered by some folks already on campus.
Who the heck is going to be the next Sooner quarterback?
On signing day, where accolades go cheap and "Potential" is the buzz word, the quarterback situation was clearly one that caused the generally bristly Stoops to recoil a bit more than usual.
In between talking about the fact the Sooners signed seven defensive linemen and hinted at a defensive change to the 3-4, Stoops backed away from the quarterback talk that will dominate headlines from here on out until OU opens the season in September.
No wonder he didn't want to answer.
"We're already off recruiting?" Stoops said with a smile. "Any more recruiting questions?"
While the Sooner defense imploded the second half of the season, exposed against West Virginia, Oklahoma State and then in the Cotton Bowl unraveling against Texas A&M, the bigger question has to be who's going to take over for the departed Landry Jones.
"And sure, I'm looking forward to the quarterback competition," Stoops admitted. "They are great guys that have worked hard. These guys, what we've always had here, they have all had great relationships with each other as they are competing."
Gone is Jones, and next in line is either the well-known Blake Bell, redshirt freshman Trevor Knight or sophomore Kendal Thompson. Drew Allen has said he will not be at OU next season and plans to transfer.
But one other name came up Wednesday as Stoops and his staff talked up their incoming class – Cody Thomas.
Thomas, a 6-foot-5, four-star ranked recruit by everyone from Scout.com to Rivals and beyond, has signed with the Sooners, but could elect to play baseball. He's expected to be a fourth or fifth-round draft pick as an outfielder this spring.
But he could figure into the Sooner quarterback discussion, too.
"Our anticipation is that Cody will be with us," Stoops said of a possible baseball over football decision. "He does things so effortlessly. Cody has a great arm and release. Cody is like Sam (Bradford). Everything he does, he does it well."
In addition to comparing Thomas, who threw for more than 4,000 yards, as well as 51 touchdowns last year at Colleyville (Texas) Heritage High, to Sam Bradford, Stoops said Thomas could even be competing for the starting quarterback spot.
"He sure has the ability to," Stoops said. "He's too talented not to play (baseball). It could be managed. I don't see it becoming a factor."
Of course, it only makes sense for Stoops to say such a thing. No sense in ruling a player out and dissuading the talented Thomas from coming to Norman. That's why Stoops said he encouraged Thomas to come to Oklahoma and play both football and baseball.
"Everybody wants to know about the quarterback," Stoops said. "Cody Thomas is an excellent athlete."
Thomas had football offers from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Auburn, LSU, USC, Oregon and others.
It would be a bit of a longshot for the Sooners to choose Thomas as the September starter. He won't be on campus until the summer. OU didn't sign any other quarterbacks in this class, but Bell – who has seen extensive time as a short-yardage quarterback - Thompson and Knight will all go through spring practice and have been with the team at least a season.
Then again, none of the returnees have any experience throwing. Bell would seem to be the favorite, considering he has been used a lot in the past two seasons, but no one has seen him throw with any regularity – not in a game, anyway.
"One of the neat things about our team is when you have a quarterback who has been here so long, people fall in line," co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell said." But right now we have a lot of competition at every position. Our chemistry is just different. The competition at quarterback will energize our offense. It will make every one of our positions more competitive."
That has to be good news for a guy like Thomas. That has to be a bit scary for the Sooners.
"We've got great players across the board at all positions and all the positions we needed," Stoops said. "As we recruit through the years, we always want a little bit of everybody. We need help at all positions, and I feel like we got that, in particular in the lines and a lot of skill athletes around them.
"We're excited about the excellent class we put together.
You have to figure Oklahoma will be more excited to know who their quarterback will be, too. Spring practice begins in less than a month. The spring game will be April 13.
The Sooners have obvious deficiencies and glaring voids to fill, starting with defense. But nothing will attract more talk and discussion this offseason than the quarterback spot.