Predicting the Oklahoma Sooners two-deep depth chart ahead of Spring Ball
The Oklahoma Sooners hold their first practice of spring ball on Monday. The journey to improving from their 6-7 season begins now.
Oklahoma welcomes a plethora of new players on both sides of the ball to Norman via the 2023 recruiting class and the transfer portal. A number of guys coming from the transfer portal will have an opportunity to compete for starting jobs, but at worst will be a part of the two-deep depth chart when Oklahoma lines up to play this fall.
Oklahoma experienced a number of departures on the offensive side of the ball departing for the NFL. The defense was one of the worst in college football in 2022. After a 6-7 season, there will be competitions across the board this spring and summer as the Sooners hope to get back into title contention.
Dec 29, 2022; Orlando, Florida, USA; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Dillon Gabriel (8) runs the ball to score a touchdown against the Florida State Seminoles during the second quarter in the 2022 Cheez-It Bowl at Camping World Stadium. Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports
Dillon Gabriel is the incumbent starter, and unless he suffers an injury, don’t expect to see anyone else start a game in 2023. QB2 is where things get interesting.
Brent Venables mentioned that [autotag]Jackson Arnold[/autotag] is starting at the back of the pack but that it won’t take long for him to rise the depth chart. By the end of the spring or summer, Jackson Arnold will be this team’s backup quarterback.
Dec 29, 2022; Orlando, Florida, USA; Oklahoma Sooners running back Jovantae Barnes (2) scores a touchdown against the Florida State Seminoles during the second half in the 2022 Cheez-It Bowl at Camping World Stadium. Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports
After the work he put in in the 2022 season, Jovantae Barnes should get the first opportunity to replace Eric Gray, who’s headed for the NFL. Gavin Sawchuk showed in the Cheez-It Bowl that he’s ready to be a big-time contributor for the Oklahoma Sooners in 2023.
Also, don’t sleep on Marcus Major and Washington transfer Emeka Megwa to make an impact on the running back depth chart.
Outside Wide Receiver 1
Oklahoma wide receiver Jalil Farooq (3) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against Nebraska during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022, in Lincoln, Neb. (AP Photo/Rebecca S. Gratz)
Marvin Mims is off to the NFL. That leaves Jalil Farooq returning the most production from the 2022 season for 2023. He’s a really good fit in Jeff Lebby’s offense. Lebby wants to get the ball in his receivers’ hands in a variety of ways, and Farooq showed a well-rounded ability to make plays off of sweeps, wide receiver screens, and downfield in the passing game.
Slot Wide Receiver
Nov 19, 2022; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma Sooners wide receiver Drake Stoops (12) catches a pass against Oklahoma State Cowboys safety Jason Taylor II (25) during a game at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Bryan Terry-USA TODAY Sports
With opportunity comes expectation, and Drake Stoops lived up to the opportunity he received in 2022. He had a career year as the Sooners’ starting slot receiver.
Gavin Freeman also took advantage of his opportunities as a walk-on, making big plays for the offense.
L.V. Bunkley-Shelton could figure into the snaps at slot wide receiver as well, given his success there when with the Arizona State Sundevils.
Outside Wide Receiver 2
Sep 3, 2022; Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA; Michigan Wolverines wide receiver Andrel Anthony (1) runs the ball against the Colorado State Rams at Michigan Stadium. Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
This is the biggest question mark among the skill position players heading into the spring.
The Sooners have a number of guys that could be contributors at wide receiver. Andrel Anthony has the vertical ability the Sooners need with the departure of Marvin Mims.
Look for Jayden Gibson, D.J. Graham, J.J. Hester, and Nic Anderson to also have a say in the outside wide receiver position battles. Keyon Brown and Jaquaize Pettaway won’t be on campus until the summer.
Oct 10, 2020; Dallas, Texas, USA; Oklahoma Sooners running back Austin Stogner (18) is chased by Texas Longhorns defensive back D’Shawn Jamison (5) during the fourth quarter of the Red River Showdown at Cotton Bowl. Andrew Dieb-USA TODAY Sports
Much like last offseason with Brayden Willis, there’s a veteran at the top of the tight end depth chart that has a chance at a career-defining season. This time it’s in the returning Austin Stogner.
Stogner hasn’t had big-time production at the collegiate level yet, but he’s dealt with injuries and rotations at the position that have impacted that as well. While Jason Llewellyn and Kaden Helms are talented underclassmen, it looks like Stogner will lead the way for Oklahoma in 2023.
Oct 5, 2019; Stanford, CA, USA; Stanford Cardinal offensive tackle Walter Rouse (75) celebrates after the game against the Washington Huskies at Stanford Stadium. Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports
Jacob Sexton’s injury that limited him to just a few snaps in the Cheez-It bowl didn’t give Oklahoma a chance to see what they had in the true sophomore.
With the departures of Anton Harrison and Wanya Morris, the coaching staff went out and secured one of the better tackles in the transfer portal, Walter Rouse.
Rouse has 39 games started on his ledge and more than 2,500 snaps at left tackle.
With Sexton out, Aaryn Parks could see time at both right and left tackle this offseason as Oklahoma attempts to determine the best fit for four-star 2023 signee Cayden Green.
Sep 10, 2022; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma Sooners wide receiver Marvin Mims (17) celebrates with Oklahoma Sooners offensive lineman McKade Mettauer (72) after scoring a touchdown during the first half against the Kent State Golden Flashes at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
McKade Mettauer is one of the three returning offensive linemen that started games for the Sooners last year. It would be a bit of an upset if he weren’t the starter at left guard this fall.
Savion Byrd made a strong impression in Oklahoma’s Cheez-It Bowl matchup with Florida State. Against a strong Seminoles defensive front, Byrd was physical and a bit of an instigator as well. Cayden Green will see time at guard as well.
Oklahoma offensive lineman Andrew Raym (73) celebrates with family friend Shane Bragg, left, and his dad, Jerry Raym, center, after Oklahoma defeated Kent State in an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, in Norman, Okla. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Andrew Raym’s injury will allow others opportunities to get significant reps this spring. First up is Nate Anderson, the former four-star prospect out of Frisco, Texas. He was the top-rated player in Oklahoma’s 2020 recruiting class. Look for 2023 center signee Joshua Bates to make some noise this spring.
Sep 17, 2022; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Miami Redhawks offensive lineman Caleb Shaffer (53) celebrates after a touchdown against the Cincinnati Bearcats in the first half at Paycor Stadium. Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports
The departure of Chris Murray at right guard left a hole for the Oklahoma Sooners to fill along their offensive line. As they did with left tackle, Bill Bedenbaugh went out and got a player with a ton of experience to fill the void in Caleb Shaffer.
Sep 3, 2022; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma Sooners running back Marcus Major (24) celebrates with Oklahoma Sooners offensive lineman Tyler Guyton (60) after scoring a touchdown during the second half against the UTEP Miners at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Tyler Guyton became the Oklahoma Sooners swing tackle after transferring in from TCU last offseason. His ability to play both sides gave the Sooners a boost when Harrison or Morris missed time. His size and athleticism will give him an opportunity to be an impact player in his first season as a starter for the Sooners.
Right Defensive End
Nov 19, 2022; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma Sooners defensive lineman Ethan Downs (40) brings down Oklahoma State Cowboys quarterback Spencer Sanders (3) during a game at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Bryan Terry-USA TODAY Sports
R Mason Thomas
The Oklahoma Sooners have a nice group of edge players to choose from. The depth is much improved from a year ago. The additions of Rondell Bothroyd and Trace Ford provide experience to compete with Ethan Downs, Reggie Grimes, and Marcus Stripling.
Based on the way Downs’ finished the season, we’re looking for him to lead to be one of the starters at defensive end when spring ball opens up.
R Mason Thomas, who flashed at times a year ago, has now spent a full year in the program and will be fully integrated into Oklahoma Football. His speed, agility, and athleticism will give him the opportunity to be a terror in pass-rushing situations for the Sooners.
Defensive Tackle (1-Technique)
Oklahoma’s Jordan Kelley (88) celebrates with Isaiah Coe (94) after a sack during a Bedlam college football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the Oklahoma State University Cowboys (OSU) at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. SARAH PHIPPS/THE OKLAHOMAN / USA TODAY NETWORK
Jordan Kelley (Starter)
Out the door is Jeffery Johnson, an experienced starter from last year’s squad. Though there’s a loss of experience, the Sooners should be in good hands with Jordan Kelley.
Kelley had a solid season as a rotational interior player, finishing 2022 with three sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss.
Notre Dame transfer Jacob Lacey will help provide a boost to the defensive interior. Though he doesn’t have much pass-rush productivity, Lacey will provide experience to the defensive tackle rotation and help Oklahoma stop the run.
Defensive Tackle (3-Technique)
Nov 12, 2022; Morgantown, West Virginia, USA; Oklahoma Sooners defensive lineman Isaiah Coe (94) celebrates following a tackle during the first quarter against the West Virginia Mountaineers at Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium. Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports
Jalen Redmond was one of the more productive interior defensive linemen Oklahoma’s had in the last few years. Off to the NFL, Oklahoma will have new starters at both defensive tackle positions this fall. Up next is Isaiah Coe. Coe recorded a pair of sacks and eight tackles for loss for the Sooners in 2022.
Sophomore Gracen Halton and Texas State transfer Davon Sears figure to be in the mix for rotational snaps behind Coe.
Left Defensive End
Oct 9, 2021; Syracuse, New York, USA; Wake Forest Demon Deacons defensive lineman Rondell Bothroyd (40) reacts following the game against the Syracuse Orange at the Carrier Dome. Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
Rondell Bothroyd comes to the Oklahoma Sooners with the kind of production you’d think would land him in the top 100 of the NFL draft. He’s not coming to Oklahoma to be a rotational player for the Sooners. He could work both at defensive end and defensive tackle for the Oklahoma Sooners, but in base three-man fronts, we’re going to project him as a defensive end.
Reggie Grimes had a strong start to the 2022 season, but like much of the Sooners’ pass rush, it tailed off a bit in Big 12 play. He’ll still be a big part of the Sooners’ defensive end rotation.
Indiana’s Dasan McCullough (0) smiles during warm-ups before the Indiana versus Western Kentucky football game at Memorial Stadium on Sept. 17, 2022.
The Sooners are looking to replace more than 900 snaps lost with DeShaun White heading to the NFL. Oklahoma went to the transfer portal and added one of the top defenders in the transfer class, Dasan McCullough. While he has the size and length to be a standout edge defender, the Oklahoma Sooners want to unleash his length and athleticism at the second level. A former high school safety, McCullough is well-rounded enough to make a difference in whatever way the Sooners see fit.
Last month, Brent Venables also mentioned Justin Harrington, Peyton Bowen, and Reggie Pearson would all see time at cheetah this spring as well.
Sep 17, 2022; Lincoln, Nebraska, USA; Oklahoma Sooners linebacker Jaren Kanak (7) chases Nebraska Cornhuskers quarterback Casey Thompson (11) during the first half at Memorial Stadium. Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
We saw flashes from Jaren Kanak as a true freshman but didn’t earn significant playing time despite a linebacker corp that recorded some of the highest snap counts in college football. His elite athleticism gives him a chance to be an impact player in 2023.
Another 2022 signee, Kobie McKinzie and Jake McCoy are names to watch here as well, but will go with the more veteran McCoy to back up Kanak to start the spring.
Dec 29, 2022; Orlando, Florida, USA; Oklahoma Sooners linebacker Danny Stutsman (28) celebrates a stop in the fist half against the Florida State Seminoles in the 2022 Cheez-It Bowl at Camping World Stadium. Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports
Danny Stutsman led the Big 12 in tackles last season and in Pro Football Focus’ “stops” metric. He played a ton and was highly productive in his first season as a starter. Brent Venables has high hopes for the junior linebacker.
While the Sooners improved their linebacker depth on the recruiting trail, much of it is still very young. However, guys like Kobie McKinzie and Kip Lewis could take on significant roles in the linebacker rotation in 2023.
Oct 29, 2022; Ames, Iowa, USA; Oklahoma Sooners wide receiver Woodi Washington (0) intercepts the ball over Iowa State Cyclones wide receiver Dimitri Stanley (14) during the first quarter in the Big 12 Conference game at Jack Trice Stadium. Nirmalendu Majumdar/Ames Tribune-USA TODAY Sports
Woodi Washington (Starter)
Jaden Davis (Starter)
Woodi Washington was a player that would do whatever was asked of him in 2022. He played some at safety while Billy Bowman was out with an injury. Jaden Davis is a returning starter, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see one of the youngsters supplant him in the starting lineup.
Sep 3, 2022; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma Sooners defensive back Billy Bowman (5) in action during the game against the UTEP Miners at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Billy Bowman (Starter)
Reggie Pearson (Starter)
Billy Bowman was one of the better players on the Sooners’ defense a year ago, and it was just his first season as a starter. His athleticism and range will help Oklahoma on the back end, but it also provides them with someone who can match up with tight ends or running backs leaking out of the backfield. He can cover slot wide receivers and is a strong tackler.
In an attempt to add some much-needed edge to the defense, Brent Venables brought in Reggie Pearson out of Texas Tech. Pearson flies to the football and is a physical tackler.
Peyton Bowen has a shot to get some snaps early as a rotational safety and someone who could line up at cheetah in certain situations. Key Lawrence will continue to be a factor given his experience and propensity for physical tackling as well.
Dec 29, 2022; Orlando, Florida, USA; Oklahoma Sooners place kicker Zach Schmit (34) kicks a field goal against the Florida State Seminoles during the first quarter in the 2022 Cheez-It Bowl at Camping World Stadium. Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Schmidt made just 67% of his field goal attempts in 2022. He’ll have to improve this offseason if he wants to hold onto his job. Gavin Marshall was a top-20 kicker in the 2022 recruiting class.
Nov 12, 2022; Morgantown, West Virginia, USA; Oklahoma Sooners head coach Brent Venables argues a call with an official during the first quarter against the West Virginia Mountaineers at Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium. Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports
Luke Elzinga comes to the Sooners with three years of punting experience at Central Michigan. He averaged 42.1 yards per punt and had 67 punts downed inside the 20 during his time in the MAC.
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