College basketball is heading down the home stretch, college baseball has started, but let’s not forget (I know many of you aren’t) that spring practice is already getting underway across the country. We will handle spring previews for every Big 12 football team and roll them out based on when their respective spring practices begin. Next up is the Oklahoma Sooners who will start up spring practice on Saturday March 10th.
Most Exciting Returnee: QB Kyler Murray
First off, I want to say that I watched every single snap that Kyler Murray took last season for Oklahoma. What you should know is that Kyler has the potential to be the best quarterback in the entire conference. I am not kidding folks, he has got wheels that can take it to the house on any given play. When things breakdown, he is more than capable of taking off and making people look silly in the open field. His arm has gotten better from his 2015 season at Texas A&M and again, Kyler Murray has the skillset to be a very good quarterback.
Most Exciting Newcomer: CB Brendan Radley-Hiles
I feel like this one is straight forward. The Sooners struggled defensively last season against the run and the pass. In the Big 12, you must defend the pass because everyone will try to air out against you. It was sort of a carousel last season in the secondary, but I feel like Brendan Radley-Hiles can make an immediate impact. He is a top 50 player overall in the entire country and do not let his size fool you. Brendan is a very physical corner who has the capability of locking down a receiver. I can almost assure you that you will see this guy on the field in 2018 and I am just curious to see how big of an impact he can have on this defense.
Are you really surprised that this is the storyline? Replacing a Heisman trophy winner is never an easy task but like I said earlier, Kyler has the potential to be a top tier quarterback. Kyler only attempted 21 passes last season but he did manage to complete 18 of them along with tossing 3 touchdown passes to no interceptions. Now some of those passes were screen passes but what I saw on film was good. The offense under Kyler Murray could become even more open for hotshot play caller and head coach Lincoln Riley. Why? Because Kyler’s ability to run the football. This is not a guy who is looking for a cheap first down, he is looking to take it the distance and can make defenders miss in the process. With Lincoln Riley calling the offense and Kyler Murray’s skillset, this has the makings to be a great offense. Sooner fans should be giddy at all the possibilities for this offense heading into 2018. I do want to mention that Kyler is playing baseball at Oklahoma as well currently and it is going to be interesting to see how he can balance baseball and being the starting quarterback at Oklahoma out.
This was one of the weak spots of the Oklahoma defense last season as the Sooners were mixing and matchup lineups up front. At times, the Sooners were very weak against the run and of course had their fair share of all around struggles on defense. Now DJ Ward, Matt Romar and Du’Vonta Lampkin are gone some of new guys will need to step up. The key contributors on this line are most likely going to be DE Kenneth Mann, freshman DE Ronnie Perkins, DT Neville Gallimore, DT Tyreece Lott, NG Marquise Overton and NG Dillon Faamatau. I really like DE’s Kenneth Mann (5 sacks in 2017) and freshman Ronnie Perkins who really impressed me at the Army All American Bowl. Where I have the biggest question is at defensive tackle. Neville Gallimore hasn’t shown much yet and Tyreece Lott doesn’t have a ton of experience. Another guy to keep an eye on is Amani Bledsoe, who could be a key piece heading into 2018. There have been rumors about a possible defensive scheme switch so keep your eyes open during spring practice in Norman.
Oklahoma must replace their best player on offense from 2017 and guess what? They have to do the same on defense with the loss of Obo Okoronkwo. Obo was a sack machine for the Sooners and at times, helped really keep this defense from fully collapsing. Throw in the loss of Emmanuel Beal (Leading tackler in 2017) and you may have some problems. The good news is that linebackers Caleb Kelly and Kenneth Murray will be coming back into their starting roles for 2018. Will Curtis Bolton, Bryan Mead or Mark Jackson step up into starting roles this season or will someone else emerge? Either way, the Sooners need some help here.