The free safety position brings us to our final look at Oklahoma football’s position battles. Freshman Delarrin Turner-Yell has had an impressive start to fall camp but the free safety position really seems to be up to Robert Barnes & Justin Broiles.
If you’re trying to keep track of the competition, it appears that Broiles has the edge at this point. The redshirt freshman, from John Marshall High School (Oklahoma City) was the top-ranked player in the state coming out of high school and he seems to bring a special “vibe” with him when he takes the field.
“Justin Broiles, I think, has really stepped up and done a nice job,” Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley said last week. “See him flying around and making a lot of plays. He does a great job of just bringing energy to the field, though, all the time, kind of like Joe Mixon did before and some of the others like that that just— Orlando Brown has done the last few years—are just kind of an infectious energy that really impacts the whole field.”
That’s not to say that Robert Barnes doesn’t have a chance though. Last season, as a true freshman, he appeared in ten games and made the first start of his career in the regular season game against TCU. In that game he recorded 4 tackles. He also picked up his first career interception on the final play of the Bedlam game.
— Sooner Gridiron (@soonergridiron) November 5, 2017
If there’s an advantage there for Barnes it’s in his on-field experience. That certainly won’t go unnoticed by the coaching staff. “Robert Barnes has done some good things,” Riley said when discussing the safety battles.
We’re only a week into camp so nothing is close to being settled yet but, at this point, everything seems to be going back towards Broiles’ swagger.
“Well, I love his energy and his attitude towards playing football,” Mike Stoops said. “I mean, he gets it. He brings it every day, and that’s fun. It’s fun having guys out there that talk. And then, you know, to understand how we’re communicating, I think that’s obviously very important, communication in our defense, all the changes, switches, switching defenses, understanding formations, understanding splits. You’ve got to communicate every snap, and we’re doing a better job of that.”
“So you can feel the competition,” Riley said about the safeties. “They all feel it, and it’s making them better. There’s a definite sense of urgency with that group.”
It’s going to be a fun couple of weeks leading up to the season!