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Oklahoma Sooners Football: An early projection for the 2020 depth chart

The coronavirus pandemic has put a number of anticipated spring position battles on hold for the Sooners.

NCAA Football: South Dakota at Oklahoma Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The coronavirus pandemic has raised questions about the viability of spring practice for the Oklahoma Sooners and the rest of college football. Assuming we see some actual football in the fall, here’s a preliminary stab at what OU’s depth chart will look like when games kick off in six months. (Note: Players designated with a “*” are currently facing suspensions to start the season.)

Offense

Quarterback

1st: Spencer Rattler, R-Fr.
2nd: Tanner Mordecai, R-So.
3rd: Chandler Morris, Fr.

Whether or not Lincoln Riley pretends that OU is holding a quarterback competition, Rattler will get the nod barring a calamity. Will Mordecai stick around as a No. 2?

Running Back

NCAA Football: Big 12 Championship-Baylor vs Oklahoma Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

1st: Kennedy Brooks, R-Jr.
2nd: *Rhamondre Stevenson, Sr.
3rd: T.J. Pledger, Jr.
4th: Marcus Major, R-Fr.
5th: Seth McGowan, Fr.

Trey Sermon’s transfer obviously shook up the board here. Even so, a whole lot of “very good,” even if there may not be a “great” in the bunch. OU will be fine with any of these backs carrying the rock.

H-Back

1st: Jeremiah Hall, R-Jr.
2nd: Brayden Willis, Jr.
3rd: Mikey Henderson, Fr.

OU lists Hall and Willis as H-backs, although they don’t exactly have the same roles. Count on seeing them together on the field fairly often in 2020.

WR-X

1st: Jadon Haselwood, So.
2nd: *Trejan Bridges, So.

We can play around with the configurations regarding which receiver lines up where, but Haselwood will run with the first string no matter what.

On nearly any other team in America, a non-suspended Bridges would start. He should have an opportunity to contribute once he’s available.

WR-H

1st: Drake Stoops, R-So.
2nd: Theo Howard, R-Sr.
3rd: Marvin Mims, Fr.

It’s not clear that how much OU will use a true slot this season, especially with Howard on the mend. If the UCLA transfer gets healthier sooner than later, he likely moves up a rung.

WR-Y

NCAA Football: Gasparilla Bowl-Central Florida vs Marshall Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

1st: Austin Stogner, So.
2nd: Obi Obialo, R-Jr.

The official roster lists Stogner as an H-back, but he seems well-suited to playing the Y, a hybrid tight end along the lines of Mark Andrews and Grant Calcaterra. Obialo, a transfer from Marshall, may draw comparisons to Lee Morris from a physical standpoint (6-3, 214 pounds). We’ll see if he can maintain Morris’ consistency as a receiving threat.

WR-Z

1st: Charleston Rambo, R-Jr.
2nd: Theo Wease, So.

As the elder statesman of the group, Rambo still has plenty to offer. Wease will still see more than his fair share of targets.

Center

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1st: Creed Humphrey, R-Jr.
2nd: E.J. Ndoma-Ogar, R-Fr.

Look for Humphrey to make a major leap this year. True freshman Andrew Raym could make a move here before the end of the year.

LG

1st: Marquis Hayes, R-Jr.
2nd: Darrell Simpson, R-So.

Hayes probably has one season left before he hits the pros. Simpson may need to make a case he has a future in the program.

RG

1st: Tyrese Robinson, R-Jr.
2nd: Brey Walker, R-So.

Robinson showed enough as a first-string guard last year to hold down his spot here. On the other hand, offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh could make a bid to maximize the line’s effectiveness with a position change here. For example, Walker could move into the starting lineup, offering an opportunity to give Robinson or Hayes a try at left tackle.

LT

NCAA Football: Big 12 Championship-Baylor vs Oklahoma Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

1st: Stacey Wilkins, R-Fr.
2nd: Erik Swenson, R-Sr.
3rd: Finley Felix, Sr.

Swenson did his best to hold down the left edge in 2019 before giving way to R.J. Proctor. Wilkins’ considerable potential means he’s the one most likely one to earn the job this year, with Swenson staying on as a backup. (Assuming one of the guards doesn’t get moved, of course.)

RT

1st: Adrian Ealy, R-Jr.
2nd: Marcus Alexander, R-Fr.

Alexander earned high marks late last season for his development during his first year on campus. He’s definitely a high-ceiling player.

Defense

NG

1st: Perrion Winfrey, Jr.
2nd: Jordan Kelley, R-So.
3rd: Josh Ellison, So.

The uncertainty of this offseason may prevent Winfrey from fulfilling his potential this season, which seems to be the highest of the entire position group. It won’t make a huge difference if the Sooners keep up the practice of rotating bodies on the defensive line.

Can Ellison play over the center? OU already has enough three-tech DTs and needs fortification in the middle of the line.

3-tech DT

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1st: LaRon Stokes, Sr.
2nd: Jalen Redmond, R-So.
3rd: Kori Roberson, R-Fr.

Possibly the deepest position on the entire defense, although Redmond’s limited status following shoulder surgery this spring does raise some concerns. Roberson is a sleeper.

5-tech DE

1st: *Ronnie Perkins, Jr.
2nd: Marcus Stripling, So.
3rd: Isaiah Thomas, R-Jr.
4th: Marcus Hicks, R-Fr.

Stripling flashed the makings of a future star during his rookie season. A rotation with Thomas won’t entirely offset Perkins’ presumed absence, but it seems like a sound plan for strong side defensive end. Hicks could even chip in a bit.

RUSH LB

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1st: Nik Bonitto, R-So.
2nd: Jon-Michael Terry, R-Sr.
3rd: Joseph Wete, R-Fr.

Bonitto became an asset last, especially after Terry went down for the year. JMT may be a stronger option on early downs.

Wete still likely needs time to bulk up.

MIKE LB

1st: DaShaun White, Jr.
2nd: David Ugwoegbu, So.
3rd: Bryan Mead, R-Sr.
4th: Shane Whitter, Fr.

The two inside linebacker positions appear to be in flux. Speculation has focused on White shifting over to MIKE from the WILL spot. Meanwhile, Ugwoegbu — who was being moved away from RUSH LB for the time being — was going to audition for the spot in the spring. Will that carry over in the fall if there’s no spring ball to test him out?

WILL LB

NCAA Football: Big 12 Championship-Baylor vs Oklahoma Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

1st: Caleb Kelly, R-Sr.
2nd: Brian Asamoah, R-So.
3rd: Robert Barnes, R-Jr.
4th: Jamal Morris, R-Fr.

Kelly played far above expectations in a four-game trial last season. Linebackers coach Brian Odom may even try him out at MIKE, and don’t be surprised if that’s where Kelly ends up. For now, though we’ll project him at WILL.

Asamoah showed promise as a backup last season, but his time on the field dwindled in the back half of the year. That may say something about how the coaches view him going forward. Barnes and Morris, both converted safeties, probably start their stints at LB as WILLs.

NB

1st: Woodi Washington, R-Fr.
2nd: Brendan Radley-Hiles, Jr.
3rd: Jeremiah Criddell, R-Fr.

Bookie ended the season on such a low note that it’s easy to see him starting the ‘20 season in exile. Putting Washington on the top line feels like a roll of the dice, but he showed some promise in limited action at safety last season. Think of this as a high-upside bet.

LCB

1st: Tre Norwood, R-Jr.
2nd: Jaden Davis, So.

The word on the street before the ‘19 season was that Norwood was leading the race at nickel prior to his season-ending injury. The Sooners need depth at corner badly, though, so defensive coordinator Alex Grinch and cornerbacks coach Roy Manning may call on Norwood to fill Parnell Motley’s shoes. Davis will get the starting nod if Norwood remains at NB.

RCB

1st: Tre Brown, Sr.
2nd: Joshua Eaton, Fr.
3rd: Kendall Dennis, Fr.

Even after starting last year, Brown may not have a starting spot locked down. Eaton could play a key role for the D soon enough.

Free Safety

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1st: Pat Fields, Jr.
2nd: Bryson Washington, Fr.

Fields played solid ball a year ago at a major position of need. OU is stocking up on talented youngsters such as Washington who will put the heat on the junior safety. For now, however, Fields’ dependability on the back end is essential.

Strong Safety

1st: Delarrin Turner-Yell, Jr.
2nd: Justin Harrington, Jr.
3rd: Justin Broiles, R-So.

DTY probably didn’t get enough credit for how well he played last year, and OU definitely felt his absence against LSU. So long as he doesn’t suffer any lingering effects from his broken collarbone, he will start at strong safety. Harrington will almost certainly pass Broiles on the depth chart once/if he reports for duty this summer.