The bumper crop of #SoonerSquad17 recruits will find themselves in the thick of it as fall camp quickly approaches.
Let’s take a look some of the freshmen who could make a big impact this season. Make sure to let us know who you think will make the biggest impact!
Kenneth Murray, LB
Perhaps no other freshman is getting more hype than Kenneth Murray right now. Coaches and players alike have spoken glowingly about the young linebacker, and he seems primed to be a vital part of the new-look LB unit.
For my money, Murray is the true freshman with the most raw talent and potential. Standing at a listed 6’2”, 242 lbs., he’s already got the body to be a terror on the inside. Murray figures to be a big part of OU’s run-stopping defense, but he’s versatile enough to get out in coverage too.
Trey Sermon, RB
One of Oklahoma’s early enrollees, Sermon already has his foot in the door to help replace the highly prolific backfield of Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine.
Sermon looked good in the spring game, but a good performance in the spring can often turn into fool’s gold by the time fall rolls around. A running-back-by-committee approach could be seen this season, and he has a chance to play a part in all of that.
Charleston Rambo, WR
I’m not sure that there has been a better name in recent Oklahoma Sooners football history than Charleston Rambo — with the possible exception of Chijioke Onyenegecha. I’ve always been partial to him.
Rambo is on the skinny side (his listed weight is just 167), which could limit his initial playing time. He’s not the kind of receiver to physically overwhelm a defensive back, though — Rambo relies on his route-running and open field ability to be effective.
CeeDee Lamb, WR
Lamb is a very similar receiver to Rambo in my eyes. They have almost the exact same listed height and weight. Unlike Rambo, though, Lamb is a bit more physical: he uses his hands well to create separation, and showed a prodigious ability to rise up over defenders in high school.
Moreover, Lamb is a willing and able blocker — an underrated skill in a wide receiver, especially considering the screen passes Lincoln Riley is wont to use. He also possesses the breakaway speed that has made for many long careers for wide receivers.
Creed Humphrey, C
Although Humphrey may be the least likely guy on this list to receiver early playing time (Erick Wren and Alex Dalton are ahead of him in the depth chart), he has arguably the highest potential to be playing on Sundays.
It’s not for a lack of talent (Humphrey was a highly sought after recruit), or size (6’4”, 310 lbs.), but experience. Speaking purely from a mental standpoint, playing center could be one of the most difficult positions to play in football.
So, funnily enough, there’s a good chance that arguably the most talented player on this list could redshirt this season. Ask Orlando Brown — it’s probably the right choice.
Levi Draper, LB
Often when players come in out of high school, one must rely on what amounts to hearsay to try to gauge their viability. So, when you can hear it from a fellow player or a coach, it can add legs to the hype.
Draper was highly touted as a recruit (a top five linebacker in the country by some services), but hearing Obo Okoronkwo praise him made my ears perk up. Although Obo praised the linebacker’s athleticism at Big 12 Media Days, his biggest compliment was to Draper’s understanding and knowledge of the game. That shouldn’t be overlooked.
Based on his tape, Draper flies to the ball and never seems to be out of position to impact a play. It may be tough for Draper to find playing time early, but if he puts on enough weight I’m hoping to see a Caleb Kelley type of trajectory for him.
Addison Gumbs, LB
Replacing a cornerstone player like Jordan Evans is never easy. Luckily, this seems like the best possible time for Evans to depart considering the Sooners’ depth at LB. Established guys like Obo and Caleb Kelly will bear the torch, but there are a lot of hungry freshmen on the block just waiting to eat.
Addison Gumbs is one of them. Gumbs is versatile like Obo and seems quite skilled at the fundamental things a linebacker must do. He uses his hands well, he flies to the ball, and by all reports has an excellent motor. Above all, Gumbs is an excellent pass rusher.
It’s tough to separate any one player from a potentially great recruiting class, but Gumbs has a real chance to set himself apart from his peers.
Robert Barnes, S
Coming off of a brutal broken fibula injury that ended his high school career three games early, logic dictates that he’s especially hungry in fall camp.
Defensive backs coach Kerry Cooks calls Barnes the “dark horse” to nab the starting safety spot. Cooks encouragingly says that based on the way Barnes moves, he’s made a full recovery from the broken fibula.
Of course, so-called ‘coachspeak’ always needs to be taken with a grain of salt, but the starting safety spot certainly seems like a race Barnes is capable of winning. As big and fast as Barnes is, he may have more prop potential than any member of the incoming class.
Reeves Mundschau, P
Austin Seibert will return to the team in the fall, but he is not currently working out with the Sooners.
Kicking duties will almost assuredly return to Seibert in the fall, but Reeves Mundschau could help him take a load off. Seibert, who handled kicking, place-kicking, and punting duties last season, could be relieved of one of those duties to save energy for the others.
Special teams coach Jay Boulware let on last season that Seibert only practiced three days a week because of his workload. Seibert’s kicking accuracy took a considerable dip last season, falling by about 10%.
If Mundschau can prove himself a weapon, Seibert (and the team) would certainly benefit from it.
The Other Candidates
Grant Calcaterra, TE/WR - The California native opened some eyes in the spring with his ability as a receiver. He’s someone who can come in and potentially make a play whenever Mark Andrews needs a break.
Tre Brown and Justin Broiles, CB - Both of these guys have very high upside, but finding playing time as true freshmen may be a tall task for them. Brown, however, could find a role in the return game.
Tyrese Robinson and Marquis Hayes, OG - Robinson and Hayes are two of the most highly-touted members of the class, but there’s just so much quality depth at guard in 2017. Because of this, they’re pretty good candidates for redshirt seasons.
Tre Norwood, CB - Norwood has by all accounts been quite impressive this summer (Kartik will have more on that later). However, his thin frame will work against him in his effort to see much of he field in 2017. He needs to keep developing his body.
Kennedy Brooks, RB - Unlike Sermon, Brooks didn’t have the benefit of participating in spring practice. However, he has as much potential as anyone in the backfield.
Which true freshman will have the biggest impact in 2017?
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Other (answer in comments)