By Zac Ellis
A bit of surprising news came out of Norman, Okla. on Thursday as Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops tabbed redshirt freshman Trevor Knight as the Sooners' starting quarterback.
Knight beat out junior Blake Bell for the starting job and will take the field against Louisiana Monroe on Aug. 31. In a statement, Stoops alluded to what became a close competition.
“Both Trevor and Blake (Bell) have competed hard and both will be ready to play against Louisiana-Monroe,” Stoops said. “Like every other position on our team, I expect them both to continue competing for the starting job.”
Knight's ascension to the starting role was rumored earlier this week as the program looked to replace its career passing leader in the departed Landry Jones. Still, Bell was long considered the presumed successor to Jones, but the former five-star recruit has little experience with the passing game during his Oklahoma career. The team utilized him largely in short-yardage situations, where he earned the nickname "Belldozer" by tallying 24 touchdowns on 104 rushes in his first two seasons in Norman.
But Bell attempted only 20 passing and recorded a mere 115 passing yards with no interceptions in backup duty to Jones.
Knight, on the other hand, turned heads in workouts throughout the offseason, fall camp and even during his redshirt season in 2012. His scrambling ability in particular left a lasting impression on those familiar with the program.
On Tuesday, a source within the Oklahoma program told News9.com in Oklahoma City that Knight was the best prospect they'd seen since Sam Bradford. Bradford, of course, went on to win the Heisman Trophy as the Sooners' starter from 2007-09. And as SI.com's Stewart Mandel noted, Knight's connection with Bradford doesn't end there.
Knight's scrambling ability brings a dual-threat presence to Oklahoma's upcoming offense. As a four-star recruit out of Reagan High School in San Antonio, Knight tossed for 27 touchdowns and 2,092 yards his senior year while also rushing for 943 yards with 15 touchdowns. As a junior he threw for 1,629 yards and 11 touchdowns alongside 1,050 rushing yards with 22 touchdowns. Knight's role should bring an intriguing dimension to an offense that has flourished under primarily drop-back passers in recent years.
David Wetzel, Knight's high school coach at Reagan, told the Tulsa World that Knight's running ability is one of his best assets.
"He has very deceptive speed. He’s got great speed in my opinion. He doesn’t have the top speed that an RG III has … but he’s got really good speed. He is just a phenomenal athlete."Knight should have plenty of experience at his disposal from the nation's fifth-best passing offense in 2012. The offensive line returns four starters, including All-Big 12 center Gabe Ikard, while receiver Jalen Saunders headlines the wideouts. The rushing attack should be a solid complement, as well, with tailback Damian Williams and fullback/tight end Trey Millard returning in Norman.