Three Oklahoma offensive players to watch this season
JUL 16, 2014 3:45p ET
You know about Trevor Knight and Sterling Shepard. You know Eric Striker could be the Big 12's best defensive player.
Here are a few players who aren't necessarily underrated, but are definitely under the radar on offense for the Sooners.
Check back here for a series detailing the Oklahoma football team. Thursday we'll take a peek at some under the radar defensive players.
Aaron Ripkowski, FB
No carries in three seasons, one catch in 2013. Important? Very.
Ripkowski, a 6-foot-1, 257-pound senior, played in all 13 games a year ago and came on toward the end of the season, starting against Iowa State, Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Alabama. He became Trey Millard after Trey Millard went out with an injury last year.
Only this year, Ripkowski will be even more involved. Without a proven running back, Ripkowski could not only see an increase in carries, but he'll be responsible for the younger running backs finding their way.
Two seasons ago, Ripkowski was a key element in the Belldozer, goal-line offense. Expect him to be more involved and a bigger part of a number of sets this season.
Also, expect coach Bob Stoops to call Ripkowski the team's best blocker. Ripkowski may not have the talents of Millard, but expect coach Bob Stoops to call Ripkowski the team's best blocker.
It's not that long ago, Stoops was scared to try for field goals. He didn't trust his kicker.
Now, the Sooners have their surest thing in a long time.
Hunnicutt was a Second Team, All-Big 12 pick from a season ago, and he's a preseason Big 12 first teamer this year, but as a kicker, he's easily overlooked.
Hunnicutt was 24-27 on field goal tries during last season, 47-48 on extra points and also caught a touchdown pass in the Bedlam win at Oklahoma State to finish with a career-best 125 points. With 351 points in his career, Hunnicutt needs just 40 this season to pass former running back DeMarco Murray for the most in school history. After finishing as a semifinalist for the Groza Award a year ago, Hunnicutt is on the preseason watch list in 2014.
Blake Bell, TE
No matter your opinion of Bell as a quarterback, know this: He beat Oklahoma State twice. Last year, going on a winning, fourth-quarter march in Stillwater, and two seasons ago, scoring the tying touchdown in Norman before the Sooners won in overtime.
Now, he's seemingly out of the quarterback picture and into a spot where OU has not excelled in recent years.
If Bell can step in at the tight end role and contribute, he may go down as one of the most successful Sooners. Meanwhile, OU is desperate to find a tight end to complement quarterback Trevor Knight and a receiving corps that doesn't return a lot of experience.
There are four other tight ends listed on the roster, but only Taylor McNamara has caught a pass meaning Bell isn't coming into a situation where he's well behind the others. Bell will have an excellent opportunity to play this season. If he wasn't going to have an opportunity , he would have certainly remained at quarterback.
Don't be surprised if Bell becomes Trevor Knight's favorite target, if he can pick up blocking schemes and more. It's not like the Sooners are loaded at receiver, so Bell has as good a chance as any to find his way into the rotation.
Follow Andrew Gilman on Twitter: @andrewgilmanOK