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Oklahoma 2013 season preview

Matt York / Associated Press
Trey Millard has the potential to be an NFL contributor in a creative and versatile offense.

Oklahoma has won 10 or more games in eight of the last 10 seasons, but has only produced 10 first-round draft picks in that span. That list includes some big names -- Sam Bradford, Trent Williams, Jermaine Gresham and, of course, Adrian Peterson -- but it feels like that much success should have resulted in greater returns, especially when looking at a 2013 roster not exactly overflowing with superstars.

Oklahoma has produced numerous outstanding football players, take a look at the top former Sooners that are currently in the NFL.

With major question marks at quarterback and on the defensive line, this seems like the spot where the Sooners finally backslide. At the same time, a handful of freshman could emerge and boost the team to the top of a muddled Big 12 conference. Based on coach Bob Stoops' history, the latter seems like the more likely outcome.

Top senior prospects

C/OG Gabe Ikard: Ikard started 12 games at center last season, but offers versatility after moving between left guard and center in his college career. Incredibly bright, Ikard has received numerous academic honors. He was pushed around by an incredibly gifted Notre Dame defensive line, which held the Sooners to 0.6 yards per carry (15 yards on 24 attempts). Ikard is one of the best centers in the game and it should be reflected in the draft.

FB Trey Millard: Millard is a fantastic jumbo athlete who does it all for the Sooners as a blocker, receiver and ball carrier. He shows more than enough speed to get down field, as demonstrated in his 73-yard catch and run against Texas. If put in a creative and versatile NFL offense, Millard offers real value as a jack-of-all-trades player.

CB Aaron Colvin: Colvin made a smooth transition from strong safety -- where he started 12 games as a sophomore -- to corner in 2012. He intercepted four passes and broke up 11. The 6-foot, 181-pound Colvin could stand to add some upper-body strength to avoid getting pushed around by imposing NFL receivers.

WR Jalen Saunders: Saunders transferred from Fresno State and was surprisingly declared eligible midway through the season, stepping in as a productive slot receiver. He tied a school single-game record with 15 catches against Notre Dame. He showed well in limited action as a punt returner, with an 81-yard touchdown. At 5-foot-9 and 160 pounds, Saunders will face an uphill battle to make an NFL roster.

Top underclassmen

WR Sterling Shepard: Shepard flashed major upside as a true freshman, accounting for 108 receiving yards and a touchdown in his third-ever college game against Kansas State. He operates mostly out of the slot. Listed at 5-foot-10, Shepard will have to show special playmaking ability to erase concerns about his lack of height.

DT Jordan Phillips: With a frame and mass that are ideal for the position, Phillips is being counted on to anchor a thin Oklahoma front four and emerge as the school's next great interior defender. He possesses unreal athleticism for his size (he played tight end and punter in high school) and was widely praised by offensive linemen for his performance in the spring. Endurance is a concern, as defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said he must be able to contribute 50 snaps a game.

CB L.J. Moore: A true freshman from Fresno, Moore definitely has the pedigree to carve out an immediate role in a Sooners secondary in transition. He is very instinctive, understands how to bait throws and when to break on the ball. Moore could end up at safety once he fills out.

Check out the top 10 players from Oklahoma to play in the NFL.

Three must-see games of 2013

Sept. 28 at Notre Dame: Powerhouse defensive linemen Louis Nix and Stephon Tuitt got the best of center Gabe Ikard in a rare home loss last season. He will have to fare much, much better and show strength that matches his IQ for the Sooners to get a measure of revenge in South Bend.

Oct. 12 vs. Texas (in Dallas): The Red River Shootout has become the Red River bloodbath, as the Sooners have won three in a row, including the last two meetings by a combined score of 118-38. Trey Millard had 164 yards of total offense on only eight touches to make the Longhorns defense look silly.

Nov. 7 at Baylor: If Jordan Phillips wants to show he is the real deal, there is no better spot to prove it than against Bears guard Cyril Richardson. Pardon the pun, but he is truly a dancing bear, moving with the fluidity of someone 100 pounds lighter.

Follow Dan Greenspan on Twitter @DanGreenspan.



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