Defining OU's new nickelback position

NORMAN, Okla. -- Gabe Lynn and Julian Wilson, two players that saw little action last year, figure to be a big part of the Sooners defense in 2012. Lynn has beaten out Wilson for the starting nickelback job, but Wilson is expected to come in as the dime back when the Sooners go to six defensive back sets.

“Julian has been very good. He's gonna play a lot,” coach Bob Stoops said. “Whether he starts or not, he's gonna be rotation with those guys. We really like how he plays. He's done really well.”

Joseph Ibiloye, who has been a nickelback the past three years, is working at weakside linebacker with Corey Nelson. Tony Jefferson, who started nickelback most of last season, is now at free safety.

New defensive coordinator Mike Stoops described what he has looked for in the nickelback position.

"We want somebody that’s big, that’s long and can cover up slot receivers; be athletic enough to run with guys, and be physical to fit the run game," he said. "They need to possess all those types of skills. They’re a little bit of a hybrid between a safety and a corner. They’re a little more athletic than safeties, and maybe not quite as athletic as corners. But they hit like safeties, not like corners.