The Oklahoma football team begins preseason practice at 6 a.m. Friday.
NORMAN, Okla. --
The University of Oklahoma football team continued preparations for the 2012 season with players reporting for fall camp Thursday afternoon. The first official function was a team meeting at the Switzer Center.
The first of 29 scheduled practices
will take place on Friday leading up to the team's opening game at UTEP on Sept. 1. Practice sessions are closed to the public. Due to excessive heat, Friday's session will begin at 6 a.m., followed by position meetings and a full squad meeting in the afternoon.
On Saturday, the team will participate in OU's annual Meet the Sooners Day
at Gaylord Family - Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Sooner Kids Club members will be admitted at 10 a.m., while general patrons will be admitted at 10:30 a.m. The session will conclude at noon.
Following the autograph session, team photos will be taken and head coach Bob Stoops will be available at the podium in the Adrian Peterson Team Meeting Room, followed by other members of the coaching staff and selected players. Additional players will be available for individual interviews following Coach Stoops' comments.
Several times in the history of Oklahoma football, big names and stars have graduated only to give way to players ready to step atop a new plateau with yet another championship. That rings true in 2012.
Although OU returns 11 players on offense and 12 players on defense with a combined 306 career starts, it lost serious star power in its small 2011 senior class that combined for 271 starts among 12 players on offense and defense.
Familiar names such as Alexander, Broyles, Fleming, Hanna, Lewis and Stephenson no longer dot the Oklahoma roster. But in Norman, competition on the depth chart breeds development as players continually push each other for playing time.
The NCAA career receptions leader in Ryan Broyles will have to be replaced as will the 2011 Big 12 Co-Defensive Player in Frank Alexander and the leading tackler in the Bob Stoops' era, Travis Lewis.
While some big-time contributors are gone, Oklahoma will have no sympathy from its opponents as it replenishes its depth chart with young and talented players to play alongside established leaders such as Landry Jones, Gabe Ikard and Kenny Stills on the offensive side and Demontre Hurst, Tom Wort and Tony Jefferson on the defensive side of the ball.
And those opponents include two new Big 12 foes in TCU and West Virginia, both road trips for the Sooners in 2012.
Changes to Oklahoma weren't limited to the roster and conference schedule as Mike Stoops returned to Norman for a second stint as the Sooners' defensive coordinator. Stoops, who will oversee the defensive backfield, brought along a familiar face in new linebackers coach Tim Kish, who was on Stoops' staff at Arizona.
On offense, Landy Jones returns for his senior year as the most seasoned quarterback in Oklahoma history with 37 career starts.
Jones' experience will be valued in the passing game as the loss of the NCAA career receptions leader, Ryan Broyles, takes away Jones' most trusted aerial threat. Several receivers will be given the chance this fall to help fill Broyles' role.
The backfield will be bolstered in the fall as OU's leading rusher from a year ago, Dominique Whaley, works his way back from a broken ankle suffered against Kansas State in 2011.
OU returns a load of experience up front as the offensive line returns a total of 69 career starts.
During Mike Stoops' first stint as defensive coordinator at Oklahoma, the defense was built on aggression and speed with ball-hawking athletes across the field accounting for 18 defensive touchdowns.
The loss of All-Big 12 defensive ends Frank Alexander and Ronnell Lewis will open the door for others on the ends of the line. At linebacker, OU will replace the leading tackler in the Bob Stoops' era in Travis Lewis while All-Big 12 cornerback Jamell Fleming took his game to the next level as well.
Most of the key figures on the special teams returns in 2011 with kicker Michael Hunnicutt and punter Tress Way providing familiarity for Oklahoma followers and a number of returners available.