Welcome back to another edition of our 2019 Countdown to Kickoff series! It’s the first day of August, meaning there are only 31 days left until the return of Oklahoma Sooners Football! For today’s installment, I want to highlight one of the young and budding stars of the OU defense — redshirt freshman LB Jalen Redmond.
Jalen Redmond was one of the more raw yet naturally gifted signees from the 2018 recruiting class, so when it was revealed that the Midwest City product would have to be sidelined to deal with an improper blood clotting issue, it was unclear if he’d see the field at all last season.
Fortunately, Redmond was able to overcome his medical issues and return to the fold. He made his first appearance against TCU, and also played in the next two games. Against Kansas State, he showed flashes of what he can bring to Oklahoma’s defense when operating without limitations.
In his three appearances, Redmond recorded six total tackles, including 2.5 tackles-for-loss. Although Redmond was unable to finish the season due to recurring medical issues, he showed tremendous potential on a defense that’s been desperate for playmakers. During Big 12 Media Days, Lincoln Riley provided an update on Redmond’s status.
Lincoln Riley's Big 12 Football Media Days update on Jalen Redmond sounds just like the update we got from Riley roughly 7 weeks ago. Given Redmond's history with blood clots, it's positive he hasn't suffered a setback. pic.twitter.com/OrgW5A3vzu— Lee Benson (@LeeBensonNews9) July 16, 2019
By all accounts, as long as Jalen Redmond is healthy, he should be the favorite to land the starting RUSH outside linebacker spot for Oklahoma’s revamped defense under defensive coordinator Alex Grinch. If that happens, look for No. 31 to wreak havoc in opposing backfields this fall.
Now let’s cover any days we missed since our last countdown post:
32 Days! - Sophomore safety Delarrin Turner-Yell
Before last season, Delarrin Turner-Yell was turning heads in practice with his innate ability to thump ball carriers with authority. Unfortunately, the Hempstead, TX native sustained an injury ahead of the opener, sidelining him for the first six games of the season. He finally made his collegiate debut against the TCU Horned Frogs, where his presence was felt in the Sooners’ maligned secondary.
DYT continued to gain valuable experience over seven of the final eight games of the year, recording 12 total tackles and a late-game pass breakup that he nearly came down with for a clutch interception against West Virginia.
After beginning his Oklahoma career with Mike Stoops as his defensive coordinator, and playing under interim DC Ruffin McNeill for the second half of his true freshman campaign, Turner-Yell now has a new voice to follow in Alex Grinch. By all accounts, the former Ohio State co-defensive coordinator has extremely high standards for his side of the ball, and he hasn’t minced words about his evaluations of his current group.
A week into spring camp, Grinch shared his thoughts on the current state of the safeties, and DYT was one of the players who stood out to him in the early going. Grinch even went as far as declaring him a starter if the season started that week.
That’s mighty high praise for such a young and relatively inexperienced player, but that’s the beauty of this coaching staff. For them, it’s not about who has the most starts or who has been in the program the longest. When it comes to earning reps, it’s all about who puts in the work and proves themselves amongst their team. From the sounds of it, Delarrin Turner-Yell is doing what he needs to do to open the season as Oklahoma’s starting strong safety, and if he does, watch out.
33 Days! - QB Tanner Mordecai goes deep in his debut
Unless something totally unexpected happens between now and Sept. 1, Jalen Hurts will be Oklahoma’s starting QB, and redshirt freshman Tanner Mordecai will back him up. Using the new redshirt rule implemented ahead of last season, the Waco, TX native was able to make a couple appearances without losing the option to redshirt, saving a year of eligibility.
In the season opener against Florida Atlantic, Mordecai went two-for-two for 37 yards, including this 33-yard toss to WR Mykel Jones.
34 Days! - HB Jeremiah Hall is opportunistic in Lubbock
Redshirt sophomore Jeremiah Hall saw a decent amount of playing time in 2018, playing behind Carson Meier throughout most of the season. His skillset is a bit reminiscent of outstanding fullback Dimitri Flowers, who was a matchup nightmare for defenses during the Baker Mayfield era.
When Oklahoma found itself down 14-0 against Texas Tech in the extremely hostile confines of Jones AT&T Stadium, Kyler Murray found an open Hall for a much-needed 34-yard gain, which in turn is the longest of his young Sooner career.
35 Days! - TE Grant Calcaterra’s career long catch goes for six
For the past two seasons, junior Grant Calcaterra has steadily risen as one of the most formidable weapons in Lincoln Riley’s offense. For a team that uses tight ends the way the ever-explosive Oklahoma has for the last four years, it’s actually amazing that Calc’s longest reception is just (as I say in jest) this 35-yard touchdown against Kansas State.
Even with his third QB in three seasons throwing to him this fall, I fully expect Calcaterra to be a focal point of the offense moving forward.
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