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Five Newcomers To Watch For OU In 2012

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NORMAN, Oklahoma -

The Oklahoma Sooners come into the 2012 season with a lot of young talent on the roster. Every year, many freshmen are redshirted, while a smaller group contributes to the team on the field, whether it be special teams, offense, or defense. Here are five freshmen to keep an eye on this year for the Oklahoma Sooners.

Trey Metoyer- wide receiver

Some of you may be wondering why not junior college transfer Lacolton Bester, or Penn State transfer Justin Brown. Both are huge additions for the Sooners, as both have college football playing experience, but both are upperclassmen. Bester comes in as a junior, while Brown will only play in 2012 for the Sooners. Metoyer is a very talented player who wowed fans and coaches in the spring with his pass-catching ability and speed. Since then, the coaches have spoken repeatedly about his work ethic and his love for the game. If he can be a reliable outside threat for the Sooners, that will open things up for the OU offense. The fact he's a freshman with four years of eligibility makes him the most important newcomer of the wide receiver group.

Gary Simon- cornerback

Simon wasn't a highly touted recruit coming out of Gibbs High School in St. Petersburg, Fla. (Just a three-star rating from ESPN and Rivals) However, since he arrived on campus, defensive coordinator Mike Stoops has done nothing but rave about his ability as a cornerback. Simon arrived in Norman a bit after summer practice had started, so Stoops said he has some catching up to do when it comes to learning the schemes and coverages, but the combination of youth and talent is something the Sooners are in need of to shore up a suspect secondary.

Ty Darlington- offensive line/center

Darlington has been praised by both coaches and fellow offensive linemen as one of the hardest workers in offseason workouts. With Ben Habern stepping away from football due to injury concerns, Darlington's emergence is more important than ever. Center Gabe Ikard said Darlington is way ahead of the curve when it comes to learning the blocking schemes and the offense in general, and said Darlington will certainly see the field this year. With OU's offensive line suddenly a bit thin because of injuries, Darlington will be looked to as someone to step up and perform if called upon.

Taylor McNamara- tight end

After the graduation of James Hanna and Trent Ratterree, the dismissal of Austin Haywood, and the injury-forced retirement of Max Stevenson, the Sooners had zero tight ends on the roster for 2012. McNamara, a four-star recruit from San Diego, arriving in time for spring practice might be one of the more underrated keys for the Sooners' 2012 success. McNamara was able to come in and get a grasp on the offense, as well spend an entire summer working out and adding bulk to his 6'5 frame. McNamara is the best pass-catching tight end of the new group of tight ends OU has, so his development is a key if the Sooners want to expose the middle of opponents' defenses this season.

Eric Striker- linebacker

Like Metoyer, Striker makes this list primarily for the future of the position. The Sooners' 2012 starting linebackers should consist of Joseph Ibiloye (senior), Tom Wort (junior), and Corey Nelson (junior). On paper, that seems like a solid foundation, but Wort seems to always be battling injuries, and Ibiloye will obviously be gone after this season. It's important for Striker to develop and be ready to contribute at any time, because behind the starting group is a bunch of freshmen and sophomores. Striker has an athletic frame (6'0, 200 lbs) that allows him to move around the field quickly. His speed has impressed the coaching staff and has been the object of praise from his teammates.

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