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Danny Stutsman among Pro Football Focus’ top 5 inside linebackers returning for 2024

One of the best pieces of news the Oklahoma Sooners received this offseason was the return of Danny Stutsman. Heading into the SEC, the Sooners got a boost, bringing back one of the best linebackers in the game and their leader on defense.

Stutsman missed half of the Kansas game and all of the matchup with Oklahoma State. Both were Oklahoma losses.

But he’s back to lead a defense that made a significant jump in year two with Brent Venables at the helm. And according to Pro Football Focus, Stutsman is one of the best inside linebackers returning for the 2024 season. Max Chadwick of PFF ranked Stutsman No. 4 in the nation among returning inside linebackers.

Stutsman was named a third-team AP All-American this past season after living in opposing backfields. His 19 tackles for loss/no-gain as a junior were tied for fourth among Power Five linebackers. He also tied for eighth among Power Five linebackers with 37 run-defense stops.

He needs to improve in coverage, earning just a 64.2 PFF grade in that aspect last season. Still, Stutsman is a menace downhill who’ll once again be the leader of Oklahoma’s defense next season. – Chadwick, PFF

Harold Perkins of LSU, Barrett Carter of Clemson, and Jay Higgins of Iowa were the only inside linebackers ranked ahead of Stutsman.

Stutsman’s recorded more than 100 tackles the last two seasons. He also has seven sacks and three interceptions, showing off adept playmaking, even if can continue to improve in coverage.

The face of the Sooners’ defense will be a key to Oklahoma’s success in its first year in the SEC.

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Story originally appeared on Sooners Wire