NORMAN — Asking a freshman to come in and contribute along the offensive line is a tall task.
Oklahoma is no different, as the Sooners only have to replace two starters from last year’s unit up front.
Bill Bedenbaugh brought in experienced guard McKade Mettauer to help fill Marquis Hayes’ shoes at left guard, and a transfer addition from last year in Wanya Morris could be tabbed to replace Tyrese Robinson at right tackle this season.
But that doesn’t mean the OU freshman aren’t attacking each day under Bedenbaugh.
The Sooners signed a pair of highly-touted class of 2022 offensive tackle prospects in Deer Creek High School standout Jacob Sexton and Las Vegas native Jake Taylor.
Those two guys, along with true freshman walk-on Gunnar Allen, are Bedenbaugh’s youngest trio in the room who are just trying to get their feet under them as they embark on their first fall camp experience in Norman.
“I think those guys, I mean, they did a great job,” Bedenbaugh said at OU’s media day. “I mean, when I was out there watching them, I mean, they work hard. They're committed. When we're in meetings, they're really, really attentive.”
While all three newcomers are hard at work, they all understand the value of a redshirt year under Bedenbaugh.
“If you go back to some of the great dudes that have played here, a lot of them redshirted,” Bedenbaugh said. “ ... Orlando Brown, Cody Ford, Creed Humphrey, I mean look at all the dudes that are really good. Lane Johnson. Look at all the dudes that are really really good in the NFL. A lot of them redshirted.
“ … I mean, it's hard. It's not easy, you know what I mean? And I don't know … Creed was probably ready to play as a freshman. Orlando dang sure wasn't ready to play as a freshman. I don't know if he was ready to play as a redshirt freshman, you know, so it's hard. But (Taylor, Sexton and Allen) have the work ethic, they have the smarts, they have the toughness.”
Taylor and Sexton displayed great athleticism in high school that could see them deployed at various spots along the offensive line, and Bedenbaugh said Allen is in the reserve rotation at center to start fall camp.
But over the coming years, all of those guys could have opportunities to rise up the depth chart.
Oklahoma has valued quality over quantity in recruiting recently, and as a result, Taylor and Sexton were just the third and fourth offensive line signees over the past two cycles.
While the Sooners have brought in plenty of depth via the transfer portal in recent years, Taylor, Sexton and Allen will have the benefit of working every single day with Bedenbaugh from the very start of their careers.
And though the OU offensive line coach is incredibly demanding, the freshman trio has shown the ability to absorb the information Bedenbaugh has thrown at them so far.
“They want to be great,” Bedenbaugh said. “We're going to give them an opportunity.
“Now, they're freshmen. Again, like I've said a hundred (times) — they're freshmen playing O-line. It's not easy, so. But they're going to get every opportunity and hopefully they'll take advantage of it.”
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