Because this is Baker Mayfield’s last season in Oklahoma, the Sooners have sky-high expectations in 2017. Yesterday’s spring game definitely showed that, while the Sooners have lots of talent to replace, they have the players on campus to get it done.
But the game was also a welcome showcase for the next wave of Sooners studs, guys who will be starring for OU in 2018 and beyond. And though it’s normal to expect a drop-off when an all-time great quarterback moves on, the Sooners look uniquely situated to continue their run of success even without their perennial Heisman contender.
I mean, just look at the guy who is likely to replace Mayfield next season. I’ve had my fair share of doubts about Kyler Murray — his size, his time away from the game and his dalliance with baseball all gave me pause. But it’s hard to think anyone can beat him out after yesterday’s performance. The dude is dynamic, and his arm looks great.
Kyler Murray is gonna be a problem on zone read keepers. #Sooners pic.twitter.com/EmhvreBCZV— Sooner Gridiron (@soonergridiron) April 8, 2017
Then there’s the skill positions, the running backs and receivers. It’s fair to wonder if a wave of new guys can be true difference-makers right away in 2017. But it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if Oklahoma has the undisputed best running back corps in the nation when 2018 begins.
TOUCHDOWN: Junior College RB transfer Marcelias Sutton punches it in from six yards out. #Sooners pic.twitter.com/5UYBebpdxV— Sooner Gridiron (@soonergridiron) April 8, 2017
There’s not a single impact RB who will graduate in 2017, and this group of young guns is strong from top to bottom. While the receiver position is murkier, guys like Jeff Badet can help bridge the gap to an exciting new class of pass-catchers like Marquise Brown, CeeDee Lamb, Grant Calcaterra and Charleston Rambo.
Mayfield finds Freshman TE Grant Calcaterra. #Sooners pic.twitter.com/ftz7T1EIp3— Sooner Gridiron (@soonergridiron) April 8, 2017
And defensively? Well, let’s just say I’m feeling pretty good about the next few seasons of Parnell Motley.
Parnell Motley shows why there's been a buzz about him this spring. #Sooners pic.twitter.com/EPdM8PCgBp— Sooner Gridiron (@soonergridiron) April 8, 2017
Pair that with an amazing group of young linebackers, and there’s every reason to believe Mike Stoops can get the defense back to its 2015 levels
Sooners fans do and should have big expectations every season, and the team looks completely capable of a Big 12 three-peat. But it’s amazing what one top-ten recruiting class can do to extend that optimism by a few years.
I didn’t even mention Creed Humphrey, Jon-Michael Terry, Addison Gumbs, Kenneth Murray or Justin Broiles. Every single one of those guys saw action on Saturday and still has four years of eligibility left. The future is bright.
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