NORMAN, Okla. — For the next three weeks, Oklahoma’s players are resting at home. They don’t report back until early June. The next chance to alter the depth chart comes in late July when preseason practice begins.
The Sooners’ coaching staff doesn’t release a depth chart until the season begins. Even when that happens, it isn’t etched in stone.
Some depth-chart fluidity seems like a good thing for the Sooners throughout the season. Spots need to be earned in game-to-game performances if Oklahoma is going to play championship level defense.
On paper, the Sooners’ defensive unit should be deeper. As it stands, DieHards is not putting freshman who were not early enrollees in the projection. They need to show what they can do on campus before getting into the mix.
With that caveat, here’s DieHards’ post-spring defensive depth chart for the Sooners.
1. Amani Bledsoe, Jr.
2. Tyreece Lott, So.
1. Neville Gallimore, Jr
2. Marquise Overton, Sr.
3. Dillon Faamatau, Sr.
1. Kenneth Mann, Jr.
2. Ronnie Perkins, Fr.
Notes: The big change of the spring is moving Neville Gallimore to nose guard. Du’Vonta Lampkin’s surprising departure for the NFL Draft left a hole. If Gallimore can fill it, the Sooners should be fine.
Kenneth Mann was one of the group’s best pass rushers last season. He’s ready for an every-down role this season. The player to watch is Amani Bledsoe. This could be his last season at Oklahoma. He has significant NFL potential. Bledsoe needs to put up corresponding numbers.
Freshman Ronnie Perkins is the wild-card factor. The early enrollee showed he has tremendous upside in the spring. He’s going to play this season. How much depends on Perkins. Freshman tackle Michael Thompson could also be a major factor, but he won’t arrive until June. No matter how good he was in high school, it’s hard to put stock in someone until he regularly competes against college players.
1. Mark Jackson, Jr.
2. Jalen Redmond, Fr.
1. Kenneth Murray, So.
2. Jon Michael Terry, So.
3. Curtis Bolton, Sr.
1. Caleb Kelly, Jr.
2. Levi Draper, RFr.
1. Ryan Jones, RFr.
2. Addison Gumbs, RFr.
Notes: The competition to replace Ogbonnia Okoronkwo should be interesting. Jackson waited for his turn for two seasons. But Redmond should be a difference-maker at the position. Remember, the Sooners run a 3-4 scheme, but the Jack spot is a stand-up defensive end position.
There’s going to be much competition at the inside linebacker positions. Kenneth Murray and Caleb Kelly were held out of spring practice due to offseason surgeries. They’re the starters. But Oklahoma’s faith in Jon Michael Terry and Levi Draper grew throughout the spring. Another player to watch is senior Curtis Bolton. He missed most of last season with an ankle injury. He’s an option at either linebacker spot.
The other outside linebacker is interesting because its use depends on the opponent. Against the majority of Big 12 opponents, the Sooners use five defensive backs. Ryan Jones is the player to watch. He’s up to 230 pounds. The former safety is adjusting to the new role but gives the Sooners a lot of athleticism.
1. Brendan Radley-Hiles, Fr.
1. Tre Norwood, So.
2. Tre Brown, So.
1. Justin Broiles, RFr.
2. Chanse Sylvie, Jr.
1. Kahlil Haughton, Sr.
2. Robert Barnes, So.
3. Patrick Fields, Fr.
1. Parnell Motley, Jr.
2. Jordan Parker, So.
Notes: Radley-Hiles is going to be an immediate starter. He could also move to strong safety when the Sooners go with their base defense. But it wouldn’t be a surprise if the coaching staff lets him focus on one position at a time. The cornerback spots are fluid. Defensive backs coach Kerry Cooks finally has some depth and he wouldn’t mind rotating cornerbacks like offenses rotate receivers. Getting Parker back from last season’s knee injury is important. He’s experienced and will push for a starting job. Tre Brown should have the same impact. The overall depth should elevate the play at both cornerback positions.
Safety is where things get interesting. Sylvie and Barnes didn’t practice much in the spring due to injuries. It forced Broiles to move to safety and the coaching staff liked what it saw. Haughton, who is the group’s lone senior, played in some defensive packages the last three seasons. This is his first chance to nail down a starting role.