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Oklahoma Sooners Football: 5 Players To Watch In 2013

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NORMAN, Oklahoma -

The college football season is almost upon us and as usual, each season brings a buzz around certain players that have been on rosters for years, but haven't necessarily made a huge impact. This year is no different for the Oklahoma Sooners, as one of college football's giants attempts to reverse the underachievement from the past few years.

To do that, the Sooners will be depending on key contributions from veterans on both sides of the ball. Here are five players that could have a big impact for Oklahoma this season.

Corey Nelson- linebacker

After posting 58 tackles and 8.5 tackles for loss in 2011, Nelson regressed in 2012, making just 47 tackles and 3.5 for loss. Part of that was a minimal use of linebackers in Mike Stoops' scheme, but the defense didn't play well at all last season, so that certainly played a factor as well. Nelson has stepped up in the leadership department and everyone on the team has taken notice. With Mike Stoops promising to keep linebackers on the field and this being his senior season, it's not too much to expect a big season from Nelson.

What they're saying:

OU coach Bob Stoops- "Corey looks like he is in tremendous shape. He's worked really hard and looked good the past couple days. He'll have a big role in what we're doing."

Trey Metoyer- wide receiver

After arriving in Norman a year later than expected, Metoyer had a somewhat disappointing season after shining in the 2012 spring game. Despite showing a great skill set, Metoyer struggled to grasp the offense and didn't see the field a lot, catching 17 passes for 148 yards and a touchdown last season. Now, Metoyer has a year of experience under his belt and should play a bigger part in the offense. The Sooners have a lot of talent at wide receiver already, but a big year from Metoyer could be a huge help for the new quarterback and make the OU receiving corps possibly the best in the conference.

What they're saying:

OU co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell- "I think it's coming together for Trey, I think he understands our offense. He is getting to the point where he becomes more confident in what he's doing. I don't know if it was so much about the expectations as much as it was that success wasn't coming to him the way he wanted. He was frustrated, he's used to playing well at a really high level, most of our players are. That's the kind of mentality he had walking in the door and when he didn't have that kind of success, it was frustrating."

Related Story: Oklahoma: 5 Newcomers To Watch

Trevor Knight- quarterback

The Sooners' first quarterback competition since 2007 ended in a bit of a surprise with the redshirt freshman getting the job over the junior Blake Bell. Most thought the job was Bell's to lose since he was the backup to Landry Jones in 2012, but Knight improved drastically over the summer to make the competition tight, and then won the job over the course of two-a-days. While fans could focus on Bell's inability to win the starting job despite the experience edge, the praise of Knight coming from his teammates, both this year and last season, cannot be ignored. Knight played the role of Johnny Manziel on the scout team during OU's Cotton Bowl preparations and many players said he couldn't be touched. It's likely that Bell will still get some time at quarterback in Oklahoma's first game against Louisiana-Monroe, but the job is now Knight's and it's unlikely he's going to lose it now.

What they're saying:

Freshman Trevor Knight- "Coach Heupel from the beginning, once Landry [Jones], left said it was an open competition and even if it wasn't an open competition, he still wants us to prepare every day like we are the starter. So I take every day like I am preparing to be the starter, and I just go out and compete the best I can."

Roy Finch- running back

The small, jitterbug running back is already a senior. Unfortunately for Finch, his career has been defined by his peculiar absences from the field than his performance on the field. Finch has always electrified the crowd when on the field at running back or returning kicks, but poor practice habits and other problems kept him on the sidelines. Now it appears Finch has turned a corner in his maturity level and is ready to contribute to the OU run game. The Sooners have plenty of pop in the offensive backfield, so carries could be hard to come by for Finch. However, Finch is sure to make the most of whatever carries he does get this season after a couple seasons of disappointment.

What they're saying:

OU co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel- "A year ago Roy [Finch] got caught a little bit because of our situation at wide receiver. He bounced around a little bit between wideout and running back. For whatever reason he wasn't playing the way he was capable of at any of the positions. The way he's approached the offseason in the weight room, academically, in football practices and meetings, he has matured in a great way. Because of that, I feel like he's going to have a great year."

Gabe Lynn- safety

Lynn is probably best known for his forgettable performance in the Sooners' stunning home loss to Texas Tech in 2011. Lynn improved considerably last season from that debacle, but the improvement was mostly overlooked thanks to Oklahoma's terrible season on defense as a whole. Lynn has moved into one of the vacant safety positions and has stepped up into a leadership role as well. That October night is behind him and it's time to see some of the talent that made him the best recruit in the state when he graduated from Jenks High School.

What they're saying:

Cornerback Julian Wilson- "He really has stepped up. His role as safety, he's really the leader of the defense so he has to be more vocal. He's doing that job well."

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