Hello once again and welcome back to another edition of our Countdown to Kickoff series! The Oklahoma Sooners will open the 2019 season 55 days from today, and with that in mind I wanted to take a look at one of last season’s team captains — redshirt senior defensive lineman Kenneth Mann.
Coming from Burleson, Texas, Mann signed with the Sooners as part of the 2015 recruiting class. After redshirting his first season, he played sparingly on special teams in ‘16 before seeing more reps in ‘17. In flashes, he showed what he was capable of, such as his big moment against Oklahoma State. In a tie game in the second half, the 6’3”, 269-pound redshirt sophomore recorded this monster takedown to force a Mason Rudolph turnover from deep on the Cowboys’ own side of the field.
In 13 appearances and no starts in 2017, Mann totaled 28 tackles, 6.0 tackles-for-loss, 5.0 sacks and two forced fumbles. With how much growth he showed on the field, and his quiet but effective leadership off of it, his teammates elected him as one of their captains going into the 2018 season.
With his confidence at an all-time high, and his abilities peaking, Mann started all 13 contests he played in last season, only missing the Baylor game due to an injury. Although it was a mostly trying year on defense for the Sooners, No. 55’s presence was felt on a number of clutch plays. Take for example this game-changing interception against Army late in the fourth quarter.
For his career, Kenneth Mann has a total of 81 tackles, 11.5 tackles-for-loss, six sacks, three forced fumbles and one interception. His career numbers in TFLs and sacks lead all active Oklahoma D-linemen, and with new defensive coordinator Alex Grinch revamping that side of the ball, the potential for more impact moments is there. Unfortunately, Mann could be out for a chunk of the early going in 2019.
Now let’s cover any days we missed since our last countdown post:
56 Days! - Creed Humphrey
I’ve talked about one of the most prominent defensive linemen on the team in Mann, now I want to talk about one of the most fearsome offensive linemen the Sooners have. I’m talking about Creed Humphrey, and if I’m being totally honest, he’s already proven himself to be one of the best players on this team, regardless of position.
Hailing from Shawnee, Oklahoma, the 6’5” 315 pound Humphrey possesses prototypical size and strength for playing the center position at the highest level. However, what makes him especially formidable is the intellect he brings to the trenches. Overall, there’s a reason he anchored the Joe Moore Award winning offensive line in 2018. Even while playing among four NFL linemen, the first-year starter stood out.
Now entering his redshirt sophomore season, he’s the lone returning starter up front for Oklahoma, but with OL coach Bill Bedenbaugh’s track record of keeping the cupboard stocked, he shouldn’t have to carry the load all by himself. That said, he probably could if you asked him too. The word hulk comes to mind whenever I watch this.
After redshirting in 2017, Humphrey didn’t begin the 2018 season as the starter, but just a couple games in and the spot was his and his alone for 12 games. The former wrestler has wowed his coaches with his immense strength and high football I.Q. Beyond that, it’s pretty remarkable to know he has up to three years of eligibility remaining with how much national praise he’s already received.
At the end of last season, Creed Humphrey was named a freshman All-American by FWAA and The Athletic, a second-team All-Big 12 selection and a first-team Academic All-Big 12 honoree. The future doesn’t get any brighter for college football players than it is for this young and talented freak of nature.
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