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Sooners Excited To See Knight In Game Action

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NORMAN, Oklahoma -

For the first time in four years, a new quarterback will be under center for the Oklahoma Sooners. However, it's the third straight time a redshirt freshman has been named quarterback of the Sooners.

Trevor Knight was named the starting quarterback for the Sooners last week, winning a spirited competition over junior Blake Bell, who many thought would end up winning the job after seeing game action the past two seasons.

Monday was the first time OU coach Bob Stoops and players were available to comment on the decision and the reasons Stoops and the coaching staff ultimately decided on Knight as the quarterback.

"I think it's just fair to say that through all these practices there has just been a little more consistency in the areas that we've been looking for," Stoops said about the decision. "He's a guy that is very athletic, has great speed, he's got a very strong football that he throws with a quick release.

"He's a strong leader as well, but again there are a lot of those qualities that Blake (Bell) has also."

Knight first made a big impression last season playing the role of Johnny Manziel on the scout team while the Sooners were preparing to face Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl. Linebacker Corey Nelson recalled those practices as being especially tough for the defense.

"Trevor is a mobile quarterback and he can do it all," Nelson said Monday. "Going against him on scout team made us better, especially as a defense last season. Going against him and watching him become the player that he has become is magnificent. His skills have increased greatly."

Before players began raving about Knight to the media in the weeks leading up to the Cotton Bowl, very few people had any idea just how good Knight was. Nelson said those practices were an opportunity for Knight to showcase his skill set and he took advantage of them, putting himself in position to win the quarterback job this season.

"I feel like he made a drastic step," Nelson said, "especially during that time, because he kind of knew the situation and he knew the outcome of what would happen after Landry Jones left."

As much joy and excitement as there is for Knight—fullback Trey Millard said Knight is already becoming more vocal in practice and stepping up his leadership—there is disappointment for Bell, who seemed like the favorite to win the job as recent as two weeks ago.

However, Stoops said Bell would still be used in various ways for the Sooners this season, including in the Belldozer package that pushed Bell into the national spotlight.

"I made sure that he knew we felt that he could be a winning quarterback, too and he would win for us whenever we needed him to," Stoops said. "It's never good, it's not what they want but he understands, too that you never know what's going to happen and he's going to keep working for it, and we need him to."

Even though Knight has yet to see the field in a real game, he's walking into a situation set up to help him succeed. Protecting Knight will be a veteran offensive line that returns four starters from a year ago. A stable of running backs, led by four seniors, is poised to help the Sooners have one of the better rushing offenses in the conference. A deep, talented group of receivers is also at Knight's disposal.

OU center Gabe Ikard said no matter what any individual feels about the quarterback competition or its results, a decision has been made and it's up to the team to support that decision.

"We knew it wasn't going to be an easy decision between those two guys," Ikard admitted. "(From) an offensive line standpoint, you don't really worry about who is behind you; you just know that you have to protect him. No matter who is behind us, we're going to treat it the same way.

"With having a guy that hasn't played on the field yet behind us, we know that it's one of our responsibilities to make him feel as comfortable as possible."

Stoops didn't give any indication the Sooners would use Knight and Bell on Saturday against Louisiana-Monroe, but hinted Knight's play this weekend would affect the decision on who the quarterback will be going forward.

It was a surprise when Stoops named Knight the starter last week. Now, it's up to Knight to justify his head coach's decision—and the hype from his teammates—with his play against the Warhawks on Saturday.

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