Solid yet unspectacular.
Those three words explain the play of Oklahoma’s offensive tackles in 2011. Starters Donald Stephenson and Lane Johnson played a key role along an offensive line that allowed just 11 sacks in 13 games.
Johnson returns but Stephenson is gone to graduation as the Sooners prepare for spring practice. OU has plenty of talented, but inexperienced, tackles on the roster so the competition to start at both tackle slots should be interesting.
What Oklahoma has: Johnson is arguably the most athletic offensive lineman on the roster but he is still learning the position. As the most experienced tackle on the team, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him move over to the left tackle spot, particularly if none of the young tackles prove worthy of the starting left tackle position.
Sophomores Daryl Williams and Tyrus Thompson are talented but inexperienced. They are the front runners to battle for one of the starting tackle spots. Williams struggled with injuries during his redshirt freshman season but did begin the 2011 season as a starter at right tackle. Thompson was a highly-recruited prospect so this spring will be his opportunity to show his talents.
Freshmen Dylan Dismuke and Derek Farniok could also play their way into the mix. And don’t forget about junior college transfer Will Latu (St. Petersburg, Fla./College of the Canyons), who will arrive on campus in the summer.
What Oklahoma needs: The Sooners have the talent to start a pair of quality tackles in 2012. But OU will need someone to win both tackle spots. In other words, OU would love to see a very intense and competitive battle for both positions with the winners securing the job and the others providing quality depth.
The worst case scenario is having the left or right tackle starting spot won by default because there aren’t better options.
Position Grade: OU should be able to go four-deep at the tackle position with Johnson leading the way. Don’t expect the Sooners to be dominant -- they’re still young -- but they should field a pair of quality bookend tackles and have quality depth.