Brett Deering/Getty Images
Finding replacements for safeties Steven Parker (10) and Will Johnson (13) is a critical part of Oklahoma's spring.

Oklahoma mailbag: Spring game highlights Sooners’ safeties

DieHards tackles the best questions from Oklahoma fans. Look for our Oklahoma question of the day Monday through Friday. Join the conversation by sending your questions to @john_shinn, by email to John at jshinn.oudiehards@gmail.com or at the Oklahoma DieHards Facebook page.

Joshua Davis asks, who are the starting safeties?

The most intriguing defensive spots for the Oklahoma spring game are the safeties. The Sooners are replacing Will Johnson and Steven Parker.

Entering the spring, two of the most likely to land the starting jobs were Chanse Sylvie and Robert Barnes. Both played extensively last season. However, Sylvie suffered an inside ankle sprain and Barnes has been slowed by a hamstring injury, which also slowed him during the regular season.

“Those are positions we’ve got to keep improving and so those things happen,” defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. “Those injuries are a part of the game. It’s unfortunate but we need those guys to progress.”

The player to watch in the spring game is Justin Broiles. He redshirted last season and the former 4-star recruit from John Marshall High School in Oklahoma City was projected as a cornerback.

The Sooners moved him to free safety for the spring to see how he’d handle it. By all accounts, Broiles handled it well. Also, Brendan Radley-Hiles is the No. 1 at the nickel spot. Senior Khalil Haughton enters a make-or-break season after spending three years playing behind Parker. Early enrollee Patrick Fields has also made an impression during the last month.

Based on the way last season ended, I’d say Barnes and Sylvie are the likely starters. But those two spots are up for grabs and should be throughout the season.

Stoops said some players will have to play for both teams during the spring game because of depth. It wouldn’t surprise me if Broiles, Haughton, Radley-Hiles and Fields wear both jerseys on Saturday.