During the summer, ESPN.com is taking a closer look at each scholarship player on Oklahoma’s roster in our Crimson Countdown series. Each day, we analyze each player’s impact on the program since arriving on campus, his potential impact this fall, and his long-term projection. Starting with No. 1 Dominique Alexander, the series follows the roster numerically through No. 98 Chuka Ndulue.
No. 48 Aaron Ripkowski, fullback, 6-foot-1, 257 pounds, senior
Impact thus far: Ripkowski may have made the biggest impact during the Bob Stoops era for a player with one reception for 3 yards and one touchdown during his first three seasons. He’s played a key role in the Sooners offense since his redshirt freshman season. He made an immediate impact as a extra blocker in short-yardage situations during his first two seasons then as a fullback as a junior, particularly after Trey Millard's injury. He’s played in 33 games with eight starts heading into his final season.
Impact in 2014: Expect Ripkowski to be a critical contributor for his fourth straight season. His blocking, durability and production cements his spot in the offense, even with true freshman Dimitri Flowers looking like a key contributor in 2014.
Long-term upside: He will leave Norman as one of the top walk-ons during the Stoops’ era.
Evaluation grade for Ripkowski: C. When you consider his contribution during his time in the program, Ripkowski should have gotten a scholarship from the outset. OU eventually did reward his impact with a scholarship after it was clear he had earned it.
Development grade for Ripkowski: A. As soon as OU recognized Ripkowski could help win games, the Sooners put him on the field. Scholarship or no scholarship, they found a role for him alongside Millard early in his career and he’s rewarded them with stellar production.