Thursday is OU Media Day, which marks the beginning of fall camp for Oklahoma as they begin their quest for that elusive eighth national title in program history.
With training camp getting underway Friday, the SI Sooners staff offers up three things they'll be watching for over the next month before the season gets underway on Sept. 4.
Quarterback Situation Behind Spencer Rattler
Incredibly, 2021 marks the first time since Lincoln Riley has been the head coach at Oklahoma that he returns his starting quarterback in Heisman-favorite Spencer Rattler.
Obviously, there isn’t one ounce of competition toward the starting job: Rattler has that all sewn up as he prepares to try and lead the Sooners back to the promised land of a national title.
But, the backup spot is where things get interesting for Oklahoma because, well, there is a whole lot of inexperience backing up the redshirt sophomore.
True freshman Caleb Williams will almost definitely be second in command. While he is immensely talented and everyone is extremely excited to see what he can do when his time comes, Riley and company would surely rather not have to turn to him in meaningful snaps this year.
Williams was exciting to watch in the spring and showed definite flashes in the spring game, so how he looks this fall will be something a lot of fans will be interested in seeing.
Behind Williams is likely redshirt freshman Micah Bowens, who comes over from Penn State. He is also an exciting young player who could be an interesting option at some point down the road, but is, again, very inexperienced. Another freshman, walk-on Ben Harris, could be next in line.
Bottom line here is that Rattler’s health is going to be understandably vital throughout camp and the season ahead.
Who is the No. 1 Running Back?
Oklahoma made several splash transfer additions since the end of last season, perhaps none so more than Tennessee running back Eric Gray.
Gray is dynamic and explosive with an ability to make plays and catch passes out of the backfield. Hearing coaches talk about him this spring, especially DeMarco Murray, it became abundantly obvious the Sooners are very happy to have him in the fold.
Joining him to form a true two-headed monster is Kennedy Brooks, who returns to the team after opting out of the 2020 season.
For those that don’t remember since it’s been awhile since we saw him in a competitive football game — Brooks can flat out run the rock.
He ran for over 1,000 yards in both 2018 and 2019 and was inarguably one of the best backs in the Big 12. There isn’t much reason to think Brooks won’t slide right back into his role as a difference maker on offense.
So, who here is going to be the No. 1 running option when it is all said and done?
It is likely all semantics as whoever has the hot hand, or health, will likely be the guy throughout the year. But this is perhaps the single-most fun competition on the entire roster this fall.
Finding out who gets that top spot on the official depth chart release ahead of the season opener is intriguing, but it could go back and forth all year.
How Quickly the Late Transfer Additions Get Acclimated
As previously mentioned, Oklahoma made many big transfer additions this offseason. But, there are two in particular that are going to fun to watch this fall since A) we didn’t see them in the spring and B) they will be impact guys right away.
These two players are Arkansas wide receiver Mike Woods and LSU running back Tre Bradford.
In 20 career games with the Razorbacks, Woods caught 65 passes for 1,042 yards and nine touchdowns. Keep in mind that is in a FAR less favorable situation than what he will have this year with Riley and Rattler.
With Trejan Bridges dismissed from the team this offseason, Woods has all the makings of a player who will step right in and be important alongside Jadon Haselwood and Theo Wease. It will be interesting to see him in action for the first time in a Sooners jersey this month.
Bradford, meanwhile, also slides right in as someone who will be important immediately. Gray and Brooks are the top two backs on the team ... but Bradford could be a pretty firm No. 3, and a good one at that.
He didn’t play much as a freshman with the Tigers, only getting 10 carries, but he is a former 4-star recruit who has obvious talent and elite speed. He will likely make the most of the opportunities he is given.
With the running back depth looking pretty thin for Oklahoma, how quickly Bradford comes along will be a key aspect to the offense heading into the season.