When Mike Stoops returned to Oklahoma after eight seasons as the head coach at Arizona, he brought more than a moving van back from the desert. Defensive back Cortez Johnson followed Stoops and, after sitting out last season, could give the Sooners the best pair of corners in the Big 12.
"As soon as I knew I was transferring, he hit me up and we took it from there," Johnson said after practice Tuesday.
"He is a guy with a chance to be a really good player," head coach Bob Stoops said of Johnson. "With the size and the range he has and the speed, all of it together, it just (matters) how mentally disciplined and how strong he can be to play at the level. And if he does, he has a big upside."
Johnson started two games in his lone season at Arizona, with seven of his 16 career tackles coming in his first-ever nod against Washington. He spent last year working on the scout team and is the frontrunner to start opposite first-team All-Big 12 standout Aaron Colvin.
With the 6-foot-2 Johnson, 6-foot Colvin and 6-foot-1 freshman L.J. Moore, the Stoops brothers are embracing bigger defensive backs, an approach used to great success by former Stoops tormentor Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks.
And while Johnson could have ended up at safety under another coach, it was Mike who thought Johnson had the footwork and athleticism necessary for the position.
"Coach Stoops, he just believed I could play corner," Johnson said. "He said he hasn't ever seen anyone that can move, like as big as me, like the way I move, so he just kept me at corner."