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Oklahoma Sooners Football: Projecting OU’s depth chart entering fall camp

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We’re still 29 days away from the season opener against FAU, and talking season is in full swing.

Oklahoma v Ohio State Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Get excited, y’all. We’re less than a month away from FOOTBALL TIIIIME IN OKLAHOMAAAAAAAA!

Unfortunately, this means we still have to wait nearly a month for football time in Oklahoma, which means ‘talking season’ is fixing to peak. Why not embrace it? Fall practice begins today for the Oklahoma Sooners, so it seems an appropriate time to make some roster-related predictions.

While a lot of starting spots are up for grabs, it’s fairly easy to make a few educated guesses as to how the battles will shake out. Others, such as the safety positions, are a bit more murky. Here’s what I think the depth chart will look like when it’s released by OU later this month:

Quarterback

Kyler Murray (RS JR)

Austin Kendall (RS SO)

This one’s pretty straightforward. The competition is technically still open, but I’d be shocked if Kyler isn’t the dude to start the opener. I do, however, think there’s a great chance for both QBs to see the field in the first half against FAU. Will you be surprised if Riley decides to throw out a different look at some point? I won’t.

Running Back

Rodney Anderson (RS JR)

Trey Sermon (SO)

Kennedy Brooks (RS FR)

The top two on the depth chart are proven, elite backs who equate to arguably the best one-two backfield punch in college football. However, Riley likes to spread out the carries, and Kennedy Brooks seems likely to be the largest beneficiary of that.

Fullback/H-back

Carson Meier (RS SR) OR

Jeremiah Hall (RS FR)

This will likely be situational. We might see Meier out there as more of a blocking specialist. Hall could have more on his plate as the season progresses.

H Wide Receiver (Slot)

Mykel Jones (JR)

Nick Basquine (RS SR)

Jaquayln Crawford (FR)

Both Jones and Basquine missed the spring, but both should be at or around 100 percent at this point. With Basquine missing all of 2017, I’d give the edge to Jones. Crawford’s inclusion obviously depends on whether or not he redshirts, but I’d love to see him out there for his open-field abilities.

X Wide Receiver

CeeDee Lamb (SO)

A.D. Miller (RS JR) OR Charleston Rambo (RS FR)

Lamb is an obvious choice, but to what degree will Miller or Rambo be involved? Miller has always had high upside but has never been reliable enough to establish himself. Rambo, like Lamb, came to OU with considerable hype in 2017 and will hopefully justify it this season.

Z Wide Receiver

Marquise Brown (JR)

A.D. Miller RS (JR) OR Charleston Rambo (RS FR)

Y Wide Receiver

Grant Calcaterra (SO)

Lee Morris (RS JR)

Simply put, Calcaterra could have a huge sophomore season. Behind him is Lee Morris, whose two career catches have each been for touchdowns.

Left Tackle

Bobby Evans (RS JR)

Tramonda Moore (JR)

Barring injury, Moore is likely a year away from contributing regularly. However, with Evans being a decent candidate to enter the NFL Draft following this season, he should eventually get his shot.

Left Guard

Ben Powers (SR)

Marquise Hayes (RS FR) OR Tyrese Robinson (RS FR)

Ben Powers and Dru Samia are seniors, so the next twelve months will be big for 2017 signees Hayes and Robinson.

Center

Creed Humphrey (RS FR)

Jonathan Alvarez (RS SR)

Humphrey probably could’ve played at a high level as a true freshman last season. Alvarez is obviously a seasoned veteran, but the redshirt freshman seems too good to keep off the field. He could be a game-changer in the running game.

Right Guard

Dru Samia (SR)

Marquise Hayes (RS FR) OR Tyrese Robinson (RS FR)

Right Tackle

Cody Ford (RS JR)

Adrian Ealy (RS FR) OR Quinn Mittermeier (RS SR)

Ford and Evans are going to be getting work at each side of the line, but I’ll go with Evans at LT and Ford at RT for now.

Mittermeier has been with the program for a long while but has primarily been restricted to special teams duties.

Ealy is a BIG kid (6’6”, 328) with the potential to be a multi-season starter at tackle.

Defensive End

Kenneth Mann (RS JR)

Ronnie Perkins (FR)

Mann was a pleasant surprise in 2017, recording six tackles for loss, five sacks and two forced fumbles. He’s the presumptive starter, but expect Perkins to play a lot of snaps and make big plays as a true freshman. He’s been impressive since arriving in Norman this past January.

Nose

Neville Gallimore (RS JR)

Marquise Overton (SR) OR Dillon Faamatau (RS JR)

Will Neville Gallimore finally have his breakout season with the move to nose guard? He’s certainly generated some buzz this offseason, but my optimism is always cautious when he’s involved.

Overton and Faamatau have each proven to be solid performers, and this unit can be impressive if they take another step forward.

Defensive Tackle

Amani Bledsoe (JR)

Tyreece Lott (SO)

As is the case with the defensive linemen mentioned above (excluding the freshman Perkins), Bledsoe has shown flashes of brilliance. It’s all about taking the next step for these guys. If Mike Stoops is to be believed, the defensive front as a whole has made great strides this offseason. We’ll see.

Lott, who was sort of seen as a diamond-in-the-rough signing in 2017, could make an impact after occasionally seeing the field as a true freshman.

JACK

Addison Gumbs (SO)

Mark Jackson (JR)

Jackson played meaningful snaps last season, and he spent this spring getting reps at both the JACK and SAM positions. I’d expect him to see plenty of the field, but Gumbs is big, long and athletic pass rusher who could be a star at JACK. The question is — is he ready? He played sparingly as a freshman, but if the answer is ‘yes’, look out.

WILL

Caleb Kelly (JR)

Curtis Bolton (RS SR) OR Levi Draper (RS FR)

Kelly’s move to the inside makes a ton of sense, as he didn’t seem like a particularly natural fit playing out in space at the SAM in 2017.

Bolton was a nice utility linebacker before suffering a season-ending injury against Baylor last season. He’s a high-energy guy who could again be a solid reserve at MIKE or WILL.

After redshirting in 2017, Draper is much bigger and stronger than he was when he arrived and, like Bolton, could see some snaps at either the MIKE or WILL in 2018.

MIKE

Kenneth Murray (SO)

Jon-Michael Terry (RS SO)

Terry seemed destined to be the man in the middle before missing the majority of fall camp with an injury in 2017. With Murray fully entrenched as the starter, Terry’s window as a potential starter appears to have closed. Having said that, he could be a solid performer if anything happens to Murray.

SAM

Ryan Jones (RS FR)

Mark Jackson (JR)

How much will we see of the SAM position in 2018? With Oklahoma apparently leaning towards a heavy utilization of the 4-2-5, that remains to be seen. The most natural fit for the position seems to be Ryan Jones, who is now a linebacker after spending time at wide receiver and safety. Jackson has taken snaps at the position this offseason, but he seems less suited for the position.

Cornerback

Tre Norwood (SO)

Tre Brown (SO)

Miguel Edwards (FR)

The slight edge goes to Norwood over Brown, but expect both to see plenty of action this season. They each came up big when called upon in 2018,

Cornerback

Parnell Motley (JR)

Tre Brown (SO)

Miguel Edwards (FR)

Miguel Edwards gets the slight edge over Baldwin as the team’s fourth corner largely due to the fact that the latter missed the spring with an injury he suffered prior to arriving in Norman. However, the rangy and athletic Baldwin has one of the highest ceilings of any defensive back on the roster, so he could eventually be a very fun player to watch.

Strong Safety

Kahlil Haughton (SR)

Jordan Parker (RS SO)

Haughton has had his opportunities but has rarely wowed. However, the potential has always been there for him, and perhaps the opportunity to be a starter has lit a fire under his behind. One can only hope.

Parker will be getting work at safety this fall. This is partly due to the level of need within the safety group (particularly in light of the injury to Chanse Sylvie) as well as the general level of talent within his old position group.

Free Safety

Robert Barnes (SO)

Justin Broiles (RS FR)

Barnes had his ups and downs when given opportunities as a true freshman, but a full, healthy offseason has surely benefitted him. He’s one of the most ballyhooed defensive backs to come to Oklahoma in quite some time, and Oklahoma’s safety concerns largely fly out the window if things click for him in 2018.

Like Parker, Broiles is now at safety, and he’s apparently fitting in quite nicely.

Nickel

Brendan Radley-Hiles (FR)

Justin Broiles (RS FR) OR Miguel Edwards (FR)

It’s hard to argue that the signing of Brendan Radley-Hiles isn’t the most impactful recruiting win for this program in quite some time. He provides an instinctive, playmaking presence in the defensive backfield, but he also allows Oklahoma to shift to the frequent utilization a 4-2-5 defense with relative ease. Additionally, he’s someone who can play one of the safety or corner spots in 4-3 or 3-4 situations.

Who behind Bookie could fill that role if need be? Broiles and Edwards are versatile enough to do so.

Kicker

Austin Seibert (SR)

Gabe Brkic (FR)

Punter

Austin Seibert (SR)

Reeves Mundschau (RS FR)

Kick Returner

Marcelias Sutton (SR)

TJ Pledger (FR)

Sutton had his moments as a kick returner in 2017, but perhaps the addition of Shane Beamer will result in some better return protection for him this season. As someone with good vision who doesn’t really mess around with the ball in his hands, he’s a pretty solid fit for the role.

Punter Returner

CeeDee Lamb (SO)

Jaquayln Crawford (FR)

Lamb was reliable fielding punts as a true freshman in 2017. With an offense that explosive and a defense that inconsistent, that took heavy priority over big-play potential. Lamb has plenty of that, too, so he seems like the right choice once again unless OU elects to go with someone a bit less vital to the team’s offensive success. In that case, perhaps true freshman Jaqualyn Crawford could be the guy.