OU spring position battles: No. 5

Spring football provides the opportunity for players to put themselves in the driver’s seat when it comes to position battles. Several Oklahoma Sooners will have the chance to make a statement and make themselves the favorite to start or become a significant contributor during spring drills with several starting spots open heading into 2014. This week we’ll review the top five position battles to keep an eye on this spring, starting with the backup quarterback spot.

No. 5: Backup quarterback

Why it’s important: The Sooners need someone to step up as a quality backup to Trevor Knight. Blake Bell started eight games at quarterback in 2013, but he is fully committed to his move to tight end, making the search for a backup quarterback critical this spring. Normally having Texas Tech transfer Baker Mayfield on campus would provide some insurance but he’s ineligible to play in 2014, removing that safety net.

The Competitors

Redshirt freshman Cody Thomas: Thomas redshirted last season after signing with OU in the Class of 2013. The two-sport standout will play football and baseball this spring but the Sooners aren’t concerned it will negatively impact his development.

True freshman Justice Hansen: Hansen enrolled early with a eye on competing for seeing the field soon. Kendal Thompson's transfer and Bell’s position change opened the door for Hansen to arrive in the spring with the opportunity to secure a spot on the depth chart.

Potential outcomes

Best-case scenario: Thomas proves the promise he showed during the fall was not a fluke. The former ESPN 300 member has the talent to be a starting quarterback at OU but nobody knows if he’s ready to step into that scenario if disaster hits this fall. And Hansen, an Under Armour All-American, shows he’s ready to step in to compete for a spot as the backup quarterback despite trying to find his footing during his first semester on campus. It doesn’t matter which freshman steps up, OU just needs one of them to show they can run the offense if called upon.

Worst-case scenario: Neither freshmen step up. Physical limitations are unlikely to hold Thomas or Hansen back, but if the requirements of running the Sooners’ offense prove too much for the duo, OU could be left searching for answers at the backup quarterback position in 2014.