Oklahoma football: Brendan Radley-Hiles' versatility creates spring buzz

NORMAN, Okla. — After two practices, Oklahoma believes freshman defensive back Brendan Radley-Hiles will be an impact player this season.


“He’s everything that I thought he would be. He’s not polished right now, but he’s very instinctive and athletic,” Oklahoma defensive backs coach Kerry Cooks said on Tuesday. “The kid can play nickel, you can bounce him out to cornerback. The kid is just a football player. He has a high football IQ. You saw that, but you never what you’re actually gonna get until you see it. It’s good that he’s everything we thought he would.”

Right now, the Sooners have Radley-Hiles, who was the No. 38 overall player in the 2018 247Sports composite ranking, working at the nickel spot and safety. Cooks said he’s also tried Radley-Hiles at cornerback for some drills.

There’s the notion with young players to let them focus on one position early in their careers and then expand later. Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops believes Radley-Hiles can handle more on his plate.

“He’s very gifted. The game comes easily to him. He’s easy to coach. He’s not one of those guys that you have to coach every foot on the field,” Stoops said. “You understand his read, what he has to do, this is his job. He’s able to go out and execute it. He’s not struggling to process it all. He understands concepts well. Once he sees things, he learns awfully quick and he’s intent with what he wants to do. He’s very focused. He’s got a lot of improving to do, but he’s definitely on the right track.”


Caleb Kelly switches positions

Junior linebacker Caleb Kelly will miss spring practice because of a shoulder surgery over the winter. He’s expected to be fully recovered when offseason workouts begin in June.

But the Sooners plan to make him an inside linebacker this season. The goal is to make sure the former 5-star recruit is an every-down player.

“Last year, I was the second-string will (weakside linebacker), so I’ve learned the position,” he said. “I have some experience with it. I know the plays by heart and the regular defense. You have to know the whole defense.”

Kelly played the strongside outside linebacker spot the previous two seasons. But that took him off the field whenever Oklahoma went with a five-defensive back package, which was the majority of the time against typical Big 12 offenses.

“It’s going to be a learning spring for him,” Stoops said. “Caleb is a very intelligent player. He’s able to process everything that we’re trying to do. He just kind of sits back there and stands next to us and tries to process the calls and go through it as he stands back there. He’s still going to get a lot out of this spring.”

Kenneth Murray studies the Rose Bowl

Sophomore middle linebacker Kenneth Murray watches a lot of game video, but he’s been glued to the Rose Bowl since the season ended.

“I’ve watched that game probably like a hundred times,” he said. “I’ve watched all 14 games like a 100 times, but I’ve watched that game more than any other game.”

Murray registered 9 tackles and a sack in the game but seemed lost at times. Georgia rushed for 317 yards in the Sooners’ 54-48 overtime loss in the College Football Playoff semifinal game.

“I’m just trying to see what exactly happened and how I can get better in my overall game,” Murray said. “I watch a lot of NFL tape, and I like to compare that NFL tape with what I’m doing on the field. Watching stuff like that and trying to compare it and how to grow in my game. I’m always trying to find something constantly to get better in my game and something to work on.”

Oklahoma had special visitors at practice on Tuesday

Two visitors stood out at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on Tuesday. Former quarterback Baker Mayfield was back. The Sooners host their pro day on Wednesday and Mayfield will throw for a crowd that will include more than 60 NFL coaches and talent evaluators.

The other visitor of note was former Arkansas and Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema, who watched practice.

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