NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — Trevor Knight has never taken a college football snap. Still, Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops is entrusting the redshirt freshman with the Sooners’ offense.
Stoops tabbed Knight as the starting quarterback Thursday for the No. 16 Sooners’ opener against Louisiana-Monroe on Aug. 31. The university reported the news on its athletic website.
Knight beat out the presumed favorite for the starting job, junior Blake Bell.
Stoops has been pressed repeatedly by media during preseason practice about who the starter would be. As recently as Tuesday, Stoops said he hadn’t made a decision.
“Both Trevor and Blake have competed hard and both will be ready to play against Louisiana-Monroe,” Stoops said in a statement. “Like every other position on our team, I expect them both to continue to compete for the starting job.”
Knight, Bell and sophomore Kendal Thompson entered preseason practice as contenders for the job to replace four-year starter Landry Jones. Thompson, the son of former Oklahoma starting quarterback Charles Thompson, fractured a foot on the first day of practice, removing him from the competition.
It was Oklahoma’s first true quarterback derby since 2007, when then-redshirt freshman Sam Bradford beat out Joey Halzle and Keith Nichol to win the starting job during the preseason. After winning the Heisman Trophy in 2008, Bradford was injured early during the 2009 season, opening the door for Landry Jones, who started the rest of that season and all of 2010, 2011 and 2012.
Bell, from Wichita, Kan., played some last season, mostly in the run-oriented “Belldozer” package. The 6-foot-6, 263-pound Bell became a fan favorite with his hard-running style. He tied for the team lead with 11 total touchdowns, four of which came in a win over Texas. As a freshman, he tied the school record for rushing touchdowns by a freshman with 13 and was selected the offensive most valuable player in the Insight Bowl.
But during those two seasons, he threw just 20 passes, completing 10 for 115 yards and no touchdowns.
The 6-foot-1, 202-pound Knight redshirted last season. As a senior at Reagan High School in San Antonio in 2011, he passed for 2,092 yards and 27 touchdowns with three interceptions, while rushing for 943 yards and 15 touchdowns. As a junior, he rushed for 1,050 yards and 22 touchdowns and passed for 1,629 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Stoops has said throughout preseason practices that he wouldn’t rule out using two quarterbacks, especially since all three candidates could run the football and thus open themselves up to taking more hits.
“We’re very aware that these guys are all capable of moving around with the ball more than maybe some we’ve had,” Stoops said Tuesday. “If that happens, they’re likely to take a few shots and-or they’re fatigued. When you’re not an older guy that’s done it a bunch, that takes a while to get used to. Sometimes there may be a place to have two guys set to play.”
Stoops said the Sooners’ coaches were watching carefully this week as the quarterback battle neared its completion, seeing how Knight and Bell reacted.
“Definitely, there’s pressure there,” Stoops said.
Stoops said Bell and Knight received “fairly equal” time in practice playing with the starters and the backups.
“It’s fairly easy to see as coaches, sometimes, who’s elevating what group more,” Stoops said. “That’s what you keep trying to look at.”
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