With spring football now over, we know a little more about where different players stand in the Oklahoma Sooners’ pecking order. Some fuzzy aspects of the depth chart have come into focus – safety, defensive tackle. Others – offensive tackle, RUSH linebacker – remain shrouded in mystery.
Adding to the intrigue, the Sooners are adding plenty of talented newcomers to the mix once summer workouts start. That could shake up the rotations at a series of positions.
Here’s one stab at what the depth chart will look like on Aug. 31 when OU takes on the Houston Cougars. It even includes a handful of players who have yet to join the team.
1st: Jalen Hurts, Sr.
2nd: Tanner Mordecai, R-Fr.
3rd: Spencer Rattler, Fr.
I expected Hurts would look like more of a work in progress on Friday night. Instead, he played like a seasoned veteran. The level of competition probably had something to do with that, but the Alabama transfer left little doubt he’s going to start at QB for OU this year.
1st: Kennedy Brooks, R-So.
2nd: Trey Sermon, Jr.
3rd: T.J. Pledger, So.
4th: Rhamondre Stevenson, Jr.
5th: Marcus Major, Fr.
OU has a deep stable of backs. Sermon and Brooks should end the year with close to an equal number of carries. Are there enough carries to feed a third mouth? It feels like a waste to leave Pledger and Stevenson languishing on the bench.
1st: Brayden Willis, So.
2nd: Jeremiah Hall, R-So.
You can’t count out Hall here just yet. He played well in the spring game and has an edge in size over Willis.
Willis still offers more of a multi-dimensional threat on offense, though. That fits more with what Riley tends to prefer out of the position.
1st: CeeDee Lamb, Jr.
2nd: Theo Wease, Fr.
3rd: Jaquayln Crawford, R-Fr.
Lamb is the surest thing on this entire roster. Five-star backup Wease won’t have to wait long for his turn because the incumbent will likely declare for the NFL draft at the end of these season.
1st: Nick Basquine, R-Sr.
2nd: Mykel Jones, R-Jr.
3rd: Drake Stoops, R-Fr.
WC: Trejan Bridges, Fr.
Honestly, this position might not see much run this year, especially if Willis develops into an offensive threat. Basquine is so reliable, though, that Riley might be inclined to incorporate him in four-wide sets.
It sucks to see Jones buried down the depth chart this way. He could be a productive player for the vast majority of programs around the country, but the numbers aren’t favorable for him at OU now.
One of the freshmen could get some action at H, too.
1st: Grant Calcaterra, Jr.
2nd: Lee Morris, R-Sr.
3rd: Austin Stogner, Fr.
OU may have the best collection of receiving talent in the country; yet a former walk-on has managed to position himself as one of the unit’s prime contributors. Long story short, Lee Morris is a dawg.
1st: Charleston Rambo, R-So.
2nd: *Trejan Bridges, Fr.*
3rd: Jadon Haselwood, Fr.
Talk about a logjam of talent. We’ll see if Rambo can hold off the two rookies nipping at his heels.
*Could Bridges play H? You saw him lined up on the outside quite a bit last week, but he fits just as well in the slot and would perjaps have a better chance to seal a starting gig inside. I suppose the bottom line with Bridges is that he’s not only a tremendous talent, but also a versatile weapon.
1st: Creed Humphrey, R-So.
2nd: EJ Ndoma-Ogar, Fr.
3rd: Clayton Woods, R-Sr.
Humphrey could have used spring football to help get on the same page as the new starters on the offensive line. Instead, Humphrey needs a strong preseason camp to develop chemistry with his peers.
Talk about thin. With a converted high school guard in the two spot, OU will have serious problems if Humphrey misses extended time this year.
1st: Marquis Hayes, R-So.
2nd: Brey Walker, R-Fr.
Hayes impresses in every opportunity he gets in the spotlight. He looked brutish and nasty in the Red-White Game. Hayes should grow into a cornerstone of the OL.
Offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh saw something in Walker’s development that he felt warranted to a move to guard. Frankly, it seems as though the Sooners could still use his help at left tackle, so we’ll have to watch what happens with him.
1st: Tyrese Robinson, R-So.
2nd: R.J. Proctor, Sr.
3rd: Darrell Simpson, R-Fr.
Can Proctor make a bid for Robinson’s position in the starting lineup? A better question: Could Proctor help at center if need be?
1st: Finley Felix, So.
2nd: Erik Swenson, R-Jr.
3rd: Michael Thompson, R-Fr.
Left tackle is one of the bigger mysteries on this team. Given that Swenson hasn’t contributed much in his first three seasons in Norman, it’s difficult to imagine him making that kind of leap in year four. One the other hand, Swenson could win the starting gig to begin the season by virtue of default.
Let’s say Felix plays well enough to secure the top line on the depth chart. Keep an eye on Thompson, who looked better than expected in the spring game.
1st: Adrian Ealy, R-So.
2nd: David Swaby, R-So.
3rd: Stacey Wilkins, Fr.
Ealy was impressive during the spring game and appears to have right tackle on lock. Swaby, for his part, remains a major work in progress. It’s tough to ask a freshman to contribute immediately on the OL, so expect Wilkins to get spot work at most.
1st: Neville Gallimore, R-Sr.
2nd: Marquise Overton, R-Sr.
3rd: Troy James, R-So.
A couple of familiar faces up top. Gallimore has a good shot to grow into a more dominant players in this scheme. On the other hand, Overton holding his ground for even a handful of plays this year could benefit OU’s depth.
1st: LaRon Stokes, So.
2nd: Dillon Faamatau, Sr.
3rd: Zaccheus McKinney, R-So.
Faamatau seems like the safe bet to earn the starting honors, but he’s also more of the space-eating type. Stokes showed so much promise last week that it raises legitimate hopes he can blossom into a disruptive force at three-technique.
OU needs more help here, but it’s hard to rely on freshmen on the interior of the DL.
1st: Ronnie Perkins, So.
2nd: Kenneth Mann, R-Sr.
3rd: Isaiah Thomas, R-So.
4th: Marcus Hicks, Fr.
Perkins and Gallimore could combine to form a productive inside-outside duo on the defensive line. Mann could offer some solid depth, but it’s easy to envision him sliding to DT to bolster the biggest area of concern up front.
Hicks will likely need a year in the strength program before he can offer anything.
1st: Nik Bonitto, R-Fr.
2nd: Mark Jackson, Sr.
3rd: David Ugwoebu, Fr.
4th: Jon-Michael Terry, R-Jr.
*Jalen Redmond, R-Fr.*
*Until we get a better picture of Redmond’s health, this position is in flux. The job is his if he’s at 100 percent by the start of the season.
Otherwise, the pecking order looks pretty murky. Jackson has yet to make much of an impression, which is saying something when you’re talking about a guy in his fourth season. Bonitto is a dark horse who appears to be coming on strong. He can make enough of a push to win the gig if Redmond can’t go.
1st: Kenneth Murray, Jr.
2nd: Bryan Mead, R-Jr.
3rd: Jonathan Perkins, Fr.
The spring game poured cold water on the speculation about Murray moving to WILL LB. Supposedly there’s no real difference between the two inside LBs in Alex Grinch’s defense, so who plays where doesn’t make much of a difference. Here’s hoping the new scheme frees Murray up to make the most of his physical prowess.
Mead just seems to be a favorite of the coaching staff, no matter who’s overseeing his position group. Coaches rave about his intelligence. That likely positions him to play the role of Murray’s primary backup.
1st: DaShaun White, So.
2nd: Levi Draper, R-So.
3rd: Brian Asamoah, R-Fr.
4th: Ryan Jones, R-So.
It sounds as though White locked up the starting nod this spring, especially with Caleb Kelly out of the mix. He has shown hints that he could blossom into a star under new position coach Brian Odom.
An assortment of maladies have hindered Draper’s development. At this point, Asamoah could push for his spot. If the Red-White Game is any indication, Jones has a long way to go.
1st: Brendan Radley-Hiles, So.
2nd: Jeremiah Criddell, Fr.
For what it’s worth, Bookie looked in the spring game like he has made some strides at nickel. OU needs to find a way to get him involved in the D. The bet here is that Grinch and Roy Manning slide some personnel around to better utilize his talents.
We didn’t get much of a chance to see what Tre Norwood can do at NB. However, given that the coaches have been tinkering with his position, he can probably contribute more to the D somewhere else.
Criddell will most likely see time this fall sooner than later. We’ll put him at nickel for now, but he could easily be an immediate contributor at safety, as well.
1st: Tre Brown, Jr.
2nd: Miguel Edwards, R-Fr.
3rd: Jaden Davis, Fr.
Based on what we’ve seen so far in recruiting, Grinch can’t be happy about putting a 5-10 corner on the field. Brown is his best cover man, though.
Edwards generated some positive buzz this spring. Even though he played on the right side in the spring game, let’s pencil him in as Brown’s backup.
1st: Tre Norwood, Jr.
2nd: Parnell Motley, Sr.
3rd: Woodi Washington, Fr.
How about moving Norwood back to CB? That feels like the most efficient way to put the best players on the field in the secondary. It also gives the Sooners some depth with Motley playing behind him.
Washington has the potential to move quickly up the depth chart.
1st: Patrick Fields, So.
2nd: Justin Broiles, R-So.
3rd: Robert Barnes, Jr.
Grinch said previously that Fields looked like a starting-caliber safety this spring, so we’ll take him at his word.
Barnes is somewhat out of sight, out of mind at the moment.
1st: Delarrin Turner-Yell, So.
2nd: Jamal Morris, Fr.
3rd: Chanse Sylvie, R-Jr.
4th: Jordan Parker, R-Jr.
DTY’s physicality and willingness to mix it up apparently caught Grinch’s eye, so pencil him in as first-team strong safety for now. Morris flashed serious potential in the Red-White Game, positioning him to pass the upperclassmen on the roster between now and kickoff. Injuries to Sylvie and Parker have hindered their chances of competing at this point.
Frankly, we could see some attrition in the defensive backfield soon – you can imagine some of the older players won’t be happy with their standing.