Oklahoma mailbag: How many freshmen could start in 2018?
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 email@example.com or at the Oklahoma DieHards Facebook page.
Otto Warren asks: How many of the new freshmen do you think will start?
The spring can be deceiving because there are established players the coaching staff will hold back while they take a long look at either the early enrollees or those coming out of redshirt.
But Otto asked about the incoming freshmen, so we’ll stick with those guys. Here’s the list starting with the most likely to start against Florida Atlantic on Sept. 1.
• Brendan Radley-Hiles, nickel safety — Granted, there were different assistant coaches back then, but I haven’t heard coaches and players rave about a first-year player like this since Adrian Peterson in 2004. Radley-Hiles arrived in Norman and he seems to be exceeding expectations. He’ll open the season as the starter at the nickel spot. I wouldn’t be surprised if he stays on the field in the base personnel group at strong safety.
• Jaquayln Crawford, slot receiver — I don’t know for sure if Crawford will jump into the starting lineup by the beginning of September. Some of this could depend on what Mykel Jones does over the summer. Crawford is the ideal fit for a slot receiver. He’s fast, quick and has good hands. He’s going to be a playmaker and I think the Sooners will give him the opportunity to play quickly.
• Brey Walker, right tackle — The Sooners moved Cody Ford from guard to tackle in the spring. I think if the season began today, the job goes to Ford. But Walker is a 5-star talent who is physically ready to play. The offensive line is Oklahoma’s deepest position group. Breaking into the lineup will be hard. But Walker is a special talent.
• Ronnie Perkins, defensive end — I would have said this is more likely before Oklahoma added graduate transfer Jay Hayes from Notre Dame earlier this week. There are no plans to redshirt Perkins. He’s going to get bigger over the summer. At a minimum, he’ll play 20-plus snaps a game as a backup in the season opener.
• Jalen Redmond, outside linebacker — I really wish Redmond could have played in the spring game so fans could see what I saw when he was at Midwest City (Okla.) High School. I don’t know if Redmond will get into the starting lineup this season. Addison Gumbs and Mark Jackson are older and more established. But I believe Redmond could be one of the most disruptive linebackers at Oklahoma in at least 10 years.