After nearly nine months of working and waiting, the Oklahoma Sooners have finally reached the first game week of the college football season. With only seven days remaining in our 2019 Countdown to Kickoff, I want to highlight one of the brightest underclassmen on OU’s defense — sophomore DE Ronnie Perkins.
Oklahoma’s 2018 recruiting class was loaded with talent that has since worked its way into the Sooners’ two-deep on both side of the ball. Among that tremendous signing group was four-star defensive end Ronnie Perkins out of St. Louis, Mo. The Lutheran North HS product was the best player in the Show Me State according to some recruiting services, but he was all-in on making a name for himself across the border at OU.
As an early enrollee, Perkins quickly impressed the coaching staff with his refined pass rushing skills, especially for his age. He also won them over with the amount of aggression he played with down after down. Once the bullets were live, the true freshman proved the college game wasn’t too big or too fast for him, and was soon making a tangible difference on the field.
While Oklahoma’s overall defense struggled for much of the 2018 season, Perkins’ individual play rarely contributed to that. The 6’3”, 248-pound D-lineman did what he could to mitigate the deficiencies on that side of the ball, especially after not receiving his first start until the second half of the season.
Speaking of the latter portion of last year, one of the better performances of his inaugural campaign came against West Virginia. On that cold Friday night regular season finale in Morgantown, Perkins impacted the high-scoring affair a number of times in the fourth quarter. While the totality of his contributions weren’t all reflected in the box score, he gave Dana Holgorsen’s offense something else to think about as the game slipped away from the Mountaineers.
By the end of the season, Perkins was named a Freshman All-American by ESPN. Even as one of the youngest players on defense, he played in all 14 games, and started seven of the final eight. Statistically, he led the team with five sacks, while adding 37 total tackles, eight tackles-for-loss and one pass breakup.
Heading into his true sophomore season, as well as a vaunted defensive regime under DC Alex Grinch, the Sooners are hoping Ronnie Perkins takes that next step in his development and becomes a truly dominant force behind the line of scrimmage. If he’s any better than he was last year, that’s just too bad for any team not named Oklahoma.
Another player who’ll be wearing No. 7 this season for OU is true freshman QB Spencer Rattler. The nation’s top QB recruit from the 2019 class arrived to Norman out of Phoenix, Arizona over the summer, and by the end of fall camp, Riley tabbed him as the third passer in line behind senior grad transfer Jalen Hurts and redshirt freshman Tanner Mordecai.
With the updated redshirt rule now allowing a player to take the field in up to four games without losing a year of eligibility, it would make a lot of sense for the future of the program to take full advantage of such an opportunity. Standing at 6’ tall, Rattler has good height, and spins the ball as accurately as anybody in the QB room, if not better. And although he’s no Kyler Murray when he calls his own number, he has more than enough mobility to force defenses to game plan against. In total, he has the physical tools to be great. Once he learns enough of the offense, he should thrive in a lot of the same ways Baker Mayfield did for multiple seasons.
Now let’s cover any days we missed since our last countdown post:
8 Days! - True freshman WR Trejan Bridges
Coming out of Hebron HS in Carrollton, Texas, Trejan Bridges is one part of the star-studded trio of top-flight receivers Oklahoma signed in the 2019 recruiting class. Like Jadon Haselwood and Theo Wease Jr., Bridges could have gone virtually anywhere he wanted to play college football, but fortunately he chose the Palace on the Prairie. After enrolling early in January, he’s now poised for a potentially major freshman season.
During spring ball, Bridges showed that he was one of the more polished pass-catching prospects on the team, regardless of experience. At 6’1” and 184 pounds, he’s not a big body, possession-type of receiver, nor is he a Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown blazer. Yet, he seems to have a little bit of everything in his game. He runs crisp routes, has great hands, and he knows how to improvise when a play breaks down. In all, I’d say his greatest attribute is his versatility. Lincoln Riley has to be excited about having a player like Bridges in his offense.
In the Spring Game, Trejan Bridges caught three passes from Jalen Hurts for 76 yards. He showed off a little bit of everything with each reception, and the former Sooner he reminds me of the most is Kenny Stills. Size and build-wise they are very similar, and both can play inside or out. Above all, both play with a style that’s adaptive and beyond their years. With that in mind, keep an eye out for No. 8 this fall. Chances are good he’s on his way to some big things here at Oklahoma.
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