Since the 2018 season ended for the Oklahoma Sooners less than a month ago, the team’s roster has gone through an expected shake-up.
In addition to players such as offensive lineman Ben Powers and linebacker Curtis Bolton exhausting their eligibility, the team saw stars like quarterback Kyler Murray, wide receiver Marquise Brown, and offensive tackles Cody Ford and Bobby Evans declare for the NFL draft. Standard-issue transfers also went down, which explains why ex-backup QB Austin Kendall will be playing for the West Virginia Mountaineers in the fall.
The 2019 depth chart will feature a slew of new names in prominent roles, not the least of which being Alabama transfer Jalen Hurts behind center. Coach Lincoln Riley also will work in the players arriving as part of OU’s highly touted recruiting class.
For this pre-spring edition of OU’s depth chart, we’re including players enrolled in the program as of this semester. Listed class designations are for the 2019 season. In some cases, we’re taking liberties with position assignments in anticipation of moves we believe – or hope – are coming (this mostly applies to the defense). Also, this is not a projection of what things will look like on Aug. 31. It’s more of a look at where things appear to currently stand. Someone like Theo Wease could (and perhaps should) be two spots higher my mid-March.
We’ll start with the offense and tackle the defensive side of the ball later this week.
1st: Jalen Hurts, Sr.
2nd: Tanner Mordecai, R-Fr.
Hurts’ decision to transfer to OU potentially shifted the balance of power in the Big 12 (or at least kept the status quo in place). He still has to get up to speed with the offense, but there’s no question who’s going to be the starter this fall.
Mordecai will compete versus five-star freshman Spencer Rattler this fall for the backup job. Fifteen spring practices give Mordecai the chance to extend his lead in the race before the rookie makes it to campus.
1st: Kennedy Brooks, R-So.
2nd: Trey Sermon, Jr.
3rd: T.J. Pledger, So.
Frankly, you could consider Sermon and Brooks co-starters if you want. Sermon might actually complement Hurts better in the running game; Brooks made one hell of an impression down the stretch, though. Either way, the Sooners have some fantastic options in the backfield between those two and Pledger, who might have the most natural ability of the three.
1st: Jeremiah Hall, R-So.
2nd: Coby Tillman, R-Fr.
Hall didn’t generate much buzz in his first year on campus, prompting speculation that OU would be looking for another option at H-back. He gave the coaching staff more reason last year to believe he could turn into a contributor, appearing in all 14 games. Tillman, a walk-on from Bixby, is moving up the depth chart.
Keep an eye on sophomore tight end Brayden Willis. Using him at H-back would get a high-upside prospect on the field and break up a logjam at tight end.
1st: CeeDee Lamb, Jr.
2nd: Jadon Haselwood, Fr.
Lamb will be one of the best receivers in the country this season. He’ll probably be backed up by the country’s best recruit at receiver. Safe to say OU is in good shape here.
1st: *Nick Basquine, R-Sr.*
2nd: Jaquayln Crawford, R-Fr.
3rd: Drake Stoops, R-Fr.
4th: Trejan Bridges, Fr.
I’m operating under the assumption that the NCAA will grant Basquine a sixth year of eligibility.
How much will Riley use the H-receiver in the offense this fall? The Sooners seem far more likely to employ a fullback/H-back over a slot wideout in the majority of situations.
1st: Grant Calcaterra, Jr.
2nd: Lee Morris, R-Sr.
3rd: Brayden Willis, So.
Like Sermon and Brooks, Calcaterra and Morris are also looking at a “co-type” scenario at flex TE. The duo combined for nearly 50 catches and 14 touchdowns in 2018.
Willis showed out in limited action as a freshman. He needs more snaps.
1st: Charleston Rambo, R-So.
2nd: Jaylon Robinson, R-Fr.
3rd: Theo Wease, Fr.
The successor at Z-receiver to Marquise Brown has big cleats to fill. Rambo looked capable last season, including when called upon in the Orange Bowl. Eight receptions for 125 yards and a TD doesn’t exactly give him a death grip on the spot, though.
In light of the arrival of Wease, Bridges and Haselwood, Robinson needs a strong spring to stay out of a numbers crunch. Look for Wease to make a move as an early enrollee.
1st: Creed Humphrey, R-So.
Humphrey is a star. On the other hand, I could try to tell you who will be on the second line here, but I honestly have no idea. I assume that will get worked out this spring.
1st: Marquis Hayes, R-So.
2nd: Finley Felix, So.
At 6-5 and 351 pounds, Hayes is a brawler with the makings of offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh’s next stud at guard. He looked sharp in the little action he was given in 2018.
Felix should offer solid depth and could find a spot in the rotation with a good spring.
1st: Tyrese Robinson, R-So.
2nd: Erik Swenson, RJr.
See above – the book on Robinson reads much like what we know about Hayes. Robinson might be a touch more athletic than his classmate, but he’s still powerful and nasty.
I could picture Erik Swenson making a move inside to guard (or perhaps center) in an effort to shore up some of the depth. Logan Roberson — who could’ve been a backup at guard or center — entered the transfer portal earlier this month. It’s worth noting that players are able to exit the portal and stay at a school, so door for him to stick around in 2019 isn’t officially closed.
1st: Adrian Ealy, RSo.
2nd: Darrell Simpson, RFr.
Ealy probably won’t make a Cody Ford-like leap at right tackle this season. However, the big Louisianian could mature into an even better player when all is said and done.
Simpson oozes talent. Bedenbaugh might give him a look on both the right and left sides this year.
1st: Brey Walker, RFr.
2nd: David Swaby, R-So.
Walker could turn into steamroller after a year in a college strength program. He might possess more natural ability than any other player on the entire offensive line. He should fit in nicely on Hurts’ blind side.
At this point, Swaby could need a little more meat on his bones (6-9, 320 pounds) before he’s in position to be a contributor. Erik Swenson could also stay at tackle and occupy a backup spot.