The tumultuous career of defensive back Brendan Radley-Hiles as a member of the Oklahoma Sooners has presumably come to a close. The former five-star recruit entered the transfer portal Tuesday.
2018 5-star DB Brendan Radley-Hiles has entered the transfer portal after totaling 115 tackles, 9 TFL, 11 PD and 3 INT at Oklahoma @rivalsmike @RivalsWoody @BPrzybylo @Josh_Scoop https://t.co/55uHov2iit— NCAA Transfer Portal (@RivalsPortal) February 2, 2021
Although rumors swirled last month that Bookie was mulling a transfer, the decision comes as a surprise following Tre Norwood’s unexpected entry into the NFL draft. The two split time at the nickel position in 2020, with Norwood gradually seeing a greater share of snaps as the season wore on.
Bookie’s arrival in Norman from IMG Academy in 2018 was treated as a sign of hope for OU’s beleaguered defense. Expectations only grew when he immediately won a position as a starting safety in his freshman season. Unfortunately, his early struggles as a rookie coincided with mounting frustrations around the program over the inability of former defensive coordinator Mike Stoops to turn the unit around.
Bookie transitioned to the nickel position in 2019 under new coordinator Alex Grinch’s tutelage. The new role fit his skills as a cover man better than his previous position, which kept him farther away from the line of scrimmage. He started all 14 games of the ‘19 season and finished fifth on the team in tackles with 46.
Unfortunately, Bookie’s antics tended to overshadow his contributions on the field. His non-stop jawing with opponents and periodic bouts of excessive physicality away from the ball made him a magnet for personal fouls. Bookie’s transgressions included a stupefying cheap shot leading to his ejection during Oklahoma’s blowout loss to LSU in the Peach Bowl at the end of the ‘19 season.
Nevertheless, Bookie’s understanding of Grinch’s defensive scheme and the nickel position presumably had him in position to secure a starting spot in the fall. However, his departure may mean that wasn’t such a safe assumption.
Grinch will have no shortage of options to try out at nickel before the Sooners kick off in September. If OU wants another slot corner type there, Jaden Davis may get a crack. When it comes to bigger players with more of a hybrid skill set, Jeremiah Criddell and Justin Harrington come to mind. So does Tennessee transfer Key Lawrence. Lastly, any of OU’s current rotational players at safety could potentially slide down to nickel should Grinch decide a newcomer is a better option playing deep.