Haughton

Oklahoma safety Kahlil Haughton makes a tackle during the Red River Rivalry game last October at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas. (Kyle Phillips / The Transcript)

NORMAN, Okla. — Oklahoma has identified its starting safeties.

Beyond that, the Sooners’ depth chart reveal Thursday didn’t provide many definitive answers about other key positions.

Redshirt freshman Justin Broiles received the nod at strong safety after sitting out last year. He had one of the strongest camps among OU defensive backs, according to most accounts.

Kahlil Haughton will start at free safety.

“Justin Broiles is a guy where you’re going to hear him each and every play. He’s not only going to talk, but he’s going to work hard, too. That’s a good thing,” OU cornerback Tre Norwood said.

Haughton, a senior, fought off several underclassmen for the job.

“He had really had a strong camp. I've been really, really proud of the way ... He's played like you would expect a senior to play,” OU coach Lincoln Riley said.

Other spots remain unsettled before Saturday’s season opener against Florida Atlantic (11 a.m., FOX). No decision was made at center, where Jonathan Alvarez and Creed Humphrey are competing. Cody Ford and Bobby Evans are both listed as starting tackles but haven’t been slotted at right or left yet.

Coaches also didn’t pick a starter between Caleb Kelly and Curtis Bolton at weakside linebacker, though OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops has suggested both will play.

OU coach Lincoln Riley calls the unsettled positions a sign of depth, which would be a welcome benefit compared to previous Sooner defenses.

“If you're clear-cut, then your depth's probably not elite,” Riley said. “And I think it just helps keep you sharp throughout the year. Human nature, if you think you've got a battle won and it's sewn up for the rest of the year, then a lot of people are gonna lose a little bit of motivation, lose a little bit of that edge to win the job in the first place.”

Altogether, nine true freshmen grace OU’s first two-deep chart. Only Brendan Radley-Hiles (nickelback) was named a starter. Drake Stoops (inside receiver), Jaylon Robinson (outside receiver), Ronnie Perkins (defensive end), DaShaun White (middle linebacker), Miguel Edwards (cornerback), Patrick Fields (nickelback), Zach Edwards (long snapper), Gabe Brkic (kicker) are all listed as backups.

• Robison welcome: Don’t think because former OU quarterback Chris Robison was dismissed from the team means he’ll get the cold shoulder from former teammates.

Robison could start for FAU on Saturday. He joined OU in the same 2017 freshman class as current sophomore Kenneth Murray.

“Football’s a game. Chris is one of my boys. We came in together. Even though he left and went through what he went through, he’s always gonna be my boy,” Murray said. “It’ll be fun to get out there and compete with him. We’ll get after it throughout the game and then afterwards we’ll be friends.”

Robison was arrested for public intoxication the night after the 2017 spring game. Riley dismissed him that August for violating team rules.

“It’s unfortunate that it didn’t work out here. I hate that it didn’t, but I’m happy for him because it seems like he’s found a fresh start. And from all accounts, sounds like he’s doing a great job there,” Riley said. “Obviously, this is a competitive situation this week, and we’re going to try to make it tough on him or whoever plays. I wish him the best of luck. I want him to do great, and I hope they win every game after ours. And I hope he plays lights out.”

• UCLA names starting QB: Chip Kelly tabbed former Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight as UCLA’s starter for the season opener against Cincinnati, it was announced Thursday.

The Bruins play at Oklahoma on Sept. 8 (Noon, FOX).

Speight, 23, started for Michigan the past two seasons, throwing for 2538 yards and 18 touchdowns in 2016. A back injury kept him out most of last year.

• Odds are: OU has 26/1 odds to win the national championship, seventh-best nationally according to Bovada’s final preseason odds. Alabama is No. 1 at 11/5, followed by Clemson, Ohio State, Georgia, Washington, Michigan and Auburn.

Quarterback Kyler Murray’s Heisman Trophy odds are 22/1, or 10th nationally. Running back Rodney Anderson’s odds were taken off the board.


Palmateer is sports editor for for The Norman Transcript, a CNHI News Service publication.

 

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