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2008 Season Preview: Linebackers

The mystery position on Oklahoma’s football team in 2008 is linebacker where only one player returns with any significant game experience. I won’t insult your football intelligence by telling you how important the position is to the defense but I will say that in order for OU to accomplish their team goals this position is going to have to grow up very fast.

Ryan Reynolds is the only player in the unit with game experience at the linebacker position. He is a tackling machine and will move inside this year where he is better suited and won’t have to draw coverage assignments. Reynolds has a knack for getting to the ball and is almost guaranteed to make the stop.

Keenan Clayton moved from safety to linebacker during the spring as an experiment and has remained the #1 spot on the depth chart as the strong side linebacker through the summer. He is being pushed by JUCO transfer JR Bryant but has been solid enough to expect the start.

Austin Box’s knee injury couldn’t have come at a worse time. He had a slight edge over Travis Lewis and Mike Balogun for the other outside spot but will now have to watch from the sidelines for at least the first week of the season. The depth chart currently has Lewis penciled in as the number one back-up to Box but Balogun has been so impressive that coaches are literally raving about him. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to see him get the start with Lewis sharing time against Chattanooga. Here’s my guess for the starting linebackers with Box out with an injury.

WLB
Mike Balogun
MLB
Ryan Reynolds
SLB
Keenan Clayton