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Oklahoma Sooners Football: Is 2017 The Year of Jon-Michael Terry?

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With Jordan Evans gone, the door is open for the redshirt freshman linebacker.

NCAA Football: Sugar Bowl-Auburn vs Oklahoma Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

When Oklahoma was in the middle of its 2016 Big 12 schedule, giving up hundreds of yards to schools like Texas Tech and playing guys like Curtis Bolton and Ruben Hunter, I’m sure I wasn’t the only Sooners fan ready to burn the redshirt for 2016 Tulsa product Jon-Michael Terry.

Terry didn’t go to Jenks, Union or even Booker T. Washington. Instead he’s from the Victory Christian School, not quite a football factory, which may have explained why D1 schools were slow to find him. They eventually came around, but luckily the Sooners got there first. Terry committed two years ago last month and redshirted for his freshman season.

Now, Terry finds himself right in the middle of the spring battle for OU’s new Mike ‘backer position, right next to guys like Emmanuel Beal, Arthur McGinnis and Ricky DeBerry. Beal is probably needed more on the outside. DeBerry will be learning the position almost from scratch. Terry can probably be called the early favorite.

He’s certainly got the body for it. Terry’s listed at 6-3, 242 pounds at SoonerSports.com, which makes him the tallest linebacker on the roster and almost as heavy as Obo. Need a big ol’ dude who can stuff the inside run? Terry looks like your man.

If asked to cover or spy, Terry’s ability is basically a complete mystery. Almost all his high school film is on the defensive line, but he did play some tight end in high school so it’s not like he can’t move. In any case, I don’t expect he’ll be put in that position very often. I suspect a big part of the move to a 4-3 was to significantly limit the ambiguity between the LBs and DBs — no more what-is-Will Johnson mumbo jumbo.

After a year in linebacker purgatory, Stoops and his staff will do everything possible to make sure Caleb Kelly, Beal, DeBerry and Terry succeed. And a second line of Addison Gumbs, Kapri Doucet and Levi Draper isn’t bad at all. Just as Jordan Evans and Beal dominated the tackles totals last season, Terry might be able to stat his way right into all-Big 12 consideration.

To the rest of the country, he’ll be coming out of nowhere. But to Sooners fans, he’ll be another contributor in the long-awaited, and sorely needed, group of linebackers that’s about to help stabilize this defense.

When Bob Stoops was asked before the Sugar Bowl about young players ready for a breakout, Terry’s name came up right next to Parnell Motley’s. When you’ve been riding the pine all season but coach still remembers your name, that’s always a good sign.