Practice report: Who steps up at DT?

NORMAN, Okla. -- The big news of the day was Bob Stoops revealing that Stacy McGee has been suspended indefinitely for violating university policy. McGee was starting at the three-technique alongside Casey Walker and Jamarkus McFarland, who were manning the nose-guard spot. Redshirt freshman Jordan Phillips was backing up McGee at the three-technique.

Walker continually stressed the need for him to stay healthy this season. With the news of McGee’s suspension, Walker becomes even more important for OU. Walker and Jamarkus McFarland are the Sooners' top two defensive tackles with limited game experience behind that senior duo.

Walker has played in 21 of 27 games in the past two seasons as he’s been hampered by injuries. He played through labrum and thumb injuries in 2011, playing in 12 games while starting eight.

OU needs Jordan Phillips to step up with McGee out. The Sooners were looking for a fourth defensive tackle and, even with David King sliding inside to take some snaps, Phillips could be the answer to helping any potential depth problems in the defensive interior.

• Middle linebacker Tom Wort said he was confused when position coach Tim Kish said that he had been banged up with ankle, shoulder and back injuries last week. “I feel great,” Wort said. “Don’t know where that came from.” Wort actually asked Kish what the deal was, and Kish answered that his words had been blown out of proportion. As a refresher, here’s what Kish told SoonerNation last week:

“He’s not 100 percent healthy, but we can’t use that as an excuse for him. It’s not anything surgery wise, it’s just stuff that’s got to heal. And it’s tough to heal when you’re going through camp. We’re trying to give everybody equal reps to keep him fresh. At the same time, he needs those reps, so it’s a fine line to how much you involve him in the camp. He’s got all kinds of nicks and that’s typical for what you have as a football player. We’re trying to balance that and manage that for him. It’s like the pitcher for the (Washington) Nationals (Stephen Strasburg) – you’re only going to give him so many innings.”

Wort has a history of injuries, so that quote was disconcerting. But Wort says he’s fine. Take that for what it’s worth.

Demontre Hurst said he and wideout Justin Brown have been battling quite a bit in one-on-one situations. Said Hurst, “He smiles sometimes, I smile sometimes.” It sounds like a good battle and is further confirmation that Brown is ready to contribute immediately.’

Brown has made a smooth transition into the Sooners program and clearly has taken a business-like approach to this season. He’s looking to maximize his NFL potential while helping OU build one of the nation’s most explosive offenses.

Safety Tony Jefferson also praised Brown. “I’m really excited about him,” Jefferson said. “His routes are disciplined, he knows how to get open.”

• Mike Stoops really praised nickelbacks Gabe Lynn and Julian Wilson, who have little experience in their careers. Lynn played cornerback last season, but was moved to the nickel this season. Wilson has gone back and forth between corner and safety.

“Julian Wilson has really played well. He and Gabe have both had their times when they shined,” Mike Stoops said. “I feel that's the strongest position — that and are linebacker position when you look at our depth of quality players. Those two guys can play a lot and it gives us flexibility with Gabe to play some strong safety and maneuver. It gives us an extra safety we feel can play at high level. Those guys have been a positive.”

With all the passing offenses in the Big 12, look for Lynn and Wilson to see the field a lot this season.

• Hurst said cornerback Gary Simon has matured a lot since arriving on campus shortly before preseason camp began. A lot was thrown at Simon and he appears to have handled it pretty well.

Simon has put himself into the position to help the Sooners this fall. There weren’t many questions about Simon’s physical ability before preseason camp began so the fact he’s handling the mental and emotional requirements of playing college football is a great sign for OU.

• Speaking of freshmen, the Stoops brothers have indicated the following newcomers could all play this season: Simon, cornerback Zack Sanchez, ends Charles Tapper and Mike Onuoha, linebacker Eric Striker, center Ty Darlington, running back Alex Ross, tight end Taylor McNamara, and receivers Trey Metoyer, Sterling Shepard and Durron Neal.

Bob Stoops said the coaches are getting together next week to talk about which freshmen will play in 2012.

“We are going to meet on that Monday," he said. "I keep saying it; I want to play them all, whenever they are able to. Outside of some that are injured, obviously Daniel Brooks cannot play. We will see. That is a really good class and most of them are ready to play.”

• Jefferson was asked to reveal the three fastest receivers on the team. Jefferson said it was Trey Franks, followed by Kenny Stills, then Jalen Saunders. “I’m very comfortable with our receivers,” Jefferson said. “Really excited about them.”

• During a radio interview Thursday, Bob Stoops proclaimed Geneo Grissom had taken hold of the starting role at tight end. Stoops didn’t back off those comments Friday.

“He has been awesome; we have really been pleased with him,” Stoops said. “In the summer, when you are not able to coach them, it is a little rough. But, he is a talented guy. He does all of it the best, meaning they are all doing well, but with his little more experience and athleticism. Playing defensive end, you have got to be fairly tough, so he is used to running into other defensive ends. He has just really taken to it, and it has really looked good. Every day it has gotten better and better. He is about 255 pounds, 6-foot-4. He is what you look for. He is catching the ball well, so it has been a real positive.”

Stoops said Grissom, who switched from defensive end to tight end during the summer, has really impressed with his athleticism.

“He is one of those guys that can run and change direction and have some size to them,” Stoops said. “He has all those things. So, I cannot say it really surprises me, or we would not have done it.”