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Oklahoma Football depth chart projection
After a disappointing 6-7 season for the Sooners under Brent Venables in year one, Oklahoma looks to rebound in year two and build momentum as they head into SEC play in 2024.
Although OU had a losing record last year, they were seriously a handful of plays away from having a winning season, as Oklahoma lost FIVE one possession games last season to Kansas State, Baylor, West Virginia, Texas Tech and Florida State in their bowl game. With experience in Venables and offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby’s system and improved talent coming in, the Sooners should be vastly improved this season.
Offensive Depth chart:
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I had high expectations for Gabriel last year, due to his experience in Jeff Lebby’s offense, but underestimated the adjustment period moving new teams would be on a QB. Year two he should be more consistent and has a chance to finish top ten all time in college football history for passing yards if he stays healthy for a full season.
Last year we saw what happened when he went down with injury, but should be in a better position this season with Freshman five star QB Jackson Arnold now in the fold. Expect more designed QB runs and scrambles from Gabriel this year, with Lebby knowing he has a more than capable backup.
In the Cheez-It bowl last year against Florida State (which ranked as a top ten defensive unit) Javonte Barnes and Gavin Sawchuck each rushed for at least 100 yards and a touchdown, giving Sooner fans hope of what could come this season as they could form a nice “Thunder and Lightning” tandem.
Marcus Major has talent but has struggled staying on the field so far in his career. He will be involved and hopefully with a lighter workload should stay on the field this season.
If he goes down, thumpers such as Tawee Walker and Emeka Megwa will compete for touches, but don’t forget about the Freshmen backs in Kalib Hicks and Daylan Smothers if injuries occur.
Replacing Marvin Mims on the perimeter will be a tall task, but OU is hoping that speedy Michigan transfer Andrel Anthony can gain traction at his new stop.
However, if he doesn’t, I suspect true freshman Jaquaize Pettaway to force his way into the fold. He’s apparently been brilliant since he’s stepped onto campus and already has a college ready frame. A bold prediction of mine is that Pettaway will become the starter by November.
Jayden Gibson pops off the screen because of his huge 6 foot 5 inch frame, but has shown to have some problems making critical catches when given the opportunity in the past. There’s no doubting the talent and upside he possesses however, he just has to put it together.
Drake Stoops has felt like a core piece of the offense for centuries and we should expect him to be an important “chain mover” this season as well.
His Protégé is Gavin Freeman, who had taken a page out of Stoops book and has went from walk-on to what I’m expecting to be a core piece of the offense. He’s shown flashes in the limited opportunities that’s came his way (including a touchdown on his first career touch) and has been mentioned by Brent Venables as a guy who’s arguably had the best summer in the weight room. Expect Freeman to move around pre snap and have some manufactured touches periodically throughout the course of a game.
LV Bunkley-Shelton was a transfer from Arizona State last year who didn’t see many opportunities come his way. The receiver room is largely unproven, but very deep so I don’t know how many snaps he’ll receive, but I view him as a guy who should have a little uptick in production this season. I wouldn’t be shocked to see LV get some snaps out wide as well.
DJ Graham is a former Cornerback, but the evidence of his one handed interception against Nebraska in 2021 proves he has more than capable hands. He’s learning a new position so I’m not expecting much, but he did flash in the spring game.
Jalil Farooq projects to step up and replace Marvin Mims as the teams go-to guy at the WR position. Recently compared to Percy Harvin by OU’s receivers coach, Emmett Jones, Farooq is a guy you simply need to just find ways to get the ball in his hands.
Nic Anderson is the brother of former Oklahoma RB, Rodney Anderson and is a very physically gifted redshirt Freshman wideout who definitely looks the part. Look for him to be in the “two deep” on the depth chart and see his snap’s drastically rise in year two if he can stay healthy.
Brenan Thompson is a Texas transfer wideout who has ELITE track star speed. He will be behind as far as learning the playbook goes, but I can see a world where he overtakes Anderson on the depth chart on the outside and could very well be the best deep threat on the team, something the Sooners need after the Marvin Mims departure.
A Tulsa Oklahoma native and former Missouri Tiger, JJ Hester has an exciting blend of length and speed, but has dealt with injuries for the majority of his time at Oklahoma. It will be interesting to see what he can do when healthy.
The loss of Brayden Willis will hurt, but Oklahoma brings back Austin Stogner who started his career at Oklahoma before following Shane Beamer and Spencer Rattler to South Carolina. He’s a big bodied red zone threat and should be a reliable option on third downs for Dillon Gabriel as well. Expect him to be one of the core leaders of this team.
Blake Smith is a Texas A&M transfer who famously caught a touchdown in the spring game with a club on one of his hands. Although not as athletic as some others below him on the depth chart, his experience will go a long ways in a not so experienced position group.
Outside of Stogner and Smith, there’s a lot of potential, but question marks at the position. Kayden Helms and Jason Llewellyn are both inexperienced and trying to get healthy, Josh Fanuiel is converting to football after a Division II basketball career (caught a TD in the spring game), Hampton Fay is a Michigan State transfer who’s a converted Quarterback and Kade McIntyre is a true freshman who’s going to need time to adjust to college.
Oklahoma will replace first round pick Anton Harrison with Stanford transfer Walter Rouse, whose experience will be HUGE for the Sooners in 2023.
Behind the veteran Rouse is two young prospects who’s already made great strides since arriving at Oklahoma.
Jacob Sexton was a freshman last year and showed glimpses of a guy who was going to one day be a starter for the program. He had the opportunity to achieve his first career start last season in the bowl game against Florida State but tore his ACL in pre game warmups. He’s still coming back from injury, but should be back in time to provide depth at tackle in 2023 with an opportunity to start in 2024.
Cayden Green committed to OU and was regarded as one of the best offensive tackle prospects in his recruiting class. This summer he received a healthy chunk of first team snaps at Left Tackle with the offseason injuries to Rouse and Sexton and is a guy I would have confidence in if needed to step up during the regular season as well. He should be a fixture in the rotation in the future.
I originally thought the Left Guard position battle was between Savion Byrd and Miami of Ohio transfer Caleb Shaffer, but coach Bill Bedenbaugh recently has said that App. State transfer Troy Everett is working at Left Guard and that Shaffer is competing for a spot at Right Guard currently.
Byrd has all the upside and talent in the world, but seems to be a guy the coaching staff is wanting to really take the next step up and go win the starting job. This training camp will be huge for him.
Troy Everett Is a versatile offensive lineman who seems to be a “Bedenbaugh guy” when it comes to his approach to things. I think he’s going to legitimately push for one of the interior positions.
Heath Ozaeta is a Freshman that hasn’t been on campus long, but he’s already caught the attention of coach Venables and should have a bright future moving forward.
Andrew Raym has the experience, but he’s going to be pushed for the starting job more than in years past, with Troy Everett and Joshua Bates vying for that starting job. For Raym, his health will be a big factor in his success and him keeping the job.
Bates is a Freshman who has the right amount of “crazy” and “nasty” to him to have success in the future. He’s a Bedenbaugh guy through and through.
Nate Anderson was ranked as the number two guard in the 2020 class, but that high ranking hasn’t materialized into any meaningful playing time. However, Bedenbaugh has recently mentioned that he’s satisfied with where Anderson is at physically and should at-least provide quality depth at the position.
Sooner fans might really question this, but Jeff Lebby in a recent media availability session named McKade Mettauer the teams starting Right Guard, along with Walter Rouse, Andrew Raym and Tyler Guyton being mentioned as the starting Left Tackle, Center and Right Tackle respectively (seems like the real competition is at Left Guard).
Mettauer was a transfer from California who was the only offensive lineman to start all 13 games last year. Although many fans were a bit underwhelmed by his performance according to their expectations, he hasn’t given up a sack the last two seasons and has over 40 starts under his belt.
Speaking of experience, Caleb Shaffer has started in 35 games over the last four years at Miami (OH). Bedenbaugh recently mentioned him over at Right Guard, but I suspect he will be in the thick of it in the Left Guard competition between Byrd and Everett. If Shaffer were to win the Left Guard spot, Oklahoma would have incredible experience all over their offensive line between Rouse, Shaffer, Raym and Mettauer.
Sophomore Jake Taylor’s inexperience might not allow him a starting gig this season, but there’s a lot of people around the program who views him as a staple along the offensive line by as early as 2024.
There’s been many successful offensive linemen come through the University of Oklahoma, but I’m not afraid to say that Guyton has the POTENTIAL to be better than ALL of them. He’s 6’7” 327 pounds and moves like a Tight End. Although he doesn’t have much experience as a starter, he’s an elite athlete who could play himself into being a first round selection in the NFL draft.
Aaryn Parks is a veteran versatile swing tackle who could move over to any side and play in a pinch and Logan Howland is a Freshman who looks the part early on.
Defensive Depth Chart:
R Mason Thomas
Rondell Bothroyd was a Wake Forest transfer who’s tallied 14 sacks in the last two seasons. He will undoubtedly start at one of the DE spots.
R Mason Thomas flashed his upside in his Freshman season and has only improved physically this summer, looking to take the next step. He might not “start” this season, but should get ample opportunities to shine.
Reggie Grimes is a veteran who started out hot last season but really cooled off after that. There’s a lot of new bodies in this group so I don’t know where he fits in, but if he could play consistently at the level he was playing at the beginning of the season, he could start.
Marcus Stripling is a veteran who stayed on the roster after Lincoln Riley and Alex Grinch left for USC, although he appeared to be more of a fit in Grinch’s “Speed-D” defense. This summer he bulked up to 250 pounds, so it’ll be interesting to see if that impacts his playing time.
Coach Venables has recently mentioned that outside of Linebacker Danny Stutsman, that we could potentially see a new front seven starting rotation this season. Look no further than this new look defensive line that’s substantially larger than last season.
DaJon Terry is a Tennessee transfer who’s a LARGE human being that should start and split the majority of snaps between last years starter, Isiah Coe & I wouldn’t be surprised to see them on the field together at times as well. Honestly, I wouldn’t be shocked to see them start NEXT to each other.
Kelvin Gilliam has upside and looks amazing physically and Phillip Paea is a former Michigan Wolverine and Utah State transfer who’s recovering from an ACL injury.
Ashton Sanders is young, but is the most impressive Freshman Defensive Tackle this program has seen from a size perspective in years.
Another potential new starter along this defensive line, Gracen Halton is now up to 287 pounds and is a player I view as having an under the radar breakout season.
Jordan Kelley made three starts last season, as the switch in coaching staffs really revived his career at Oklahoma. The redshirt 5th year has a lot of experience and has put himself in good position this summer to continue to see his snaps increase, as he’s now north of 300 pounds.
Jacob Lacey’s a bit behind the 8 ball currently, as he’s been limited due to a blood clot issue. However, he should be back soon and the Notre Dame transfer very well could be a difference maker along the defensive line.
Jonah Laulu has put on weight and is moving inside after spending time with Miguel Chavis and the Defensive Ends last year. A Big-12 media day representative, it’s evident that Venables and the coaching staff views him as a leader.
Davon Sears has been mentioned as one of the strongest guys on the team and is a guy that position coach Todd Bates really likes, but he still a Texas State transfer, so I don’t know how much time he’ll see early on. He might be a guy that sees his snaps increase later on in the season once he adjusts.
Brent Venables has been known to dip into Florida have have great success in recruiting and the commitment of Markus Strong in last years recruiting cycle is evidence of that. He seems to be a recruit lost in the shuffle, but I think the future could be bright.
As the only Sooner to be named to the Big-12 preseason all-conference team, I don’t think I’m the only one that expects Ethan Downs to have success this season.
However, if there’s one person in this DE group that will take his starting job, it’s five star Freshman Adepoju Adebawore, who’s a freak of an athlete. He has all the upside in the world to be a first round NFL talent and is a young prospect that I’m expecting to see his snaps jump way up near seasons end.
Oklahoma State transfer Trace Ford has had durability concerns in the past, but will make an impact on this team if healthy. Rondell Bothroyd recently mentioned Ford as the “Fastest D-Lineman I’ve ever seen in my life”, as Ford should use that speed on third downs and in obvious blitz situations this year. I view him as a specialty pass rusher.
Taylor Wein is a Freshman so I don’t know if he’ll see much playing time this year, but Defensive Ends coach Miguel Chavis has recently said he’s a “Diamond in the rough” and appears to be really excited about his future.
Danny Stutsman is the unquestioned leader of this team, and looks to build off of a breakout season that saw him lead the Big-12 in tackles.
Behind him are the young pups of Kip Lewis & Lewis Carter. Lewis has now had a year to develop physically and learn the system and saw his playing time increase near the end of the season.
Speaking of physically ready, Lewis Carter looks really solid for a Freshmen, as Stutsman recently mentioned how impressed he was with Carter this summer, mentioning how he benched six reps of 350 pounds in a workout session this offseason.
If Carter can learn the playbook, he might really push Lewis for snaps behind Stutsman.
Shane Whittier was a former “Speed-D” era linebacker from the previous coaching staff that I was excited about, as he was mentioned at being arguably the fastest player on the team. Health has been a factor, but similar to Marcus Stripling, I don’t see where he fits in with this new defensive system.
Many questioned where Freshman Taylor Heim would slot in positionally when he arrived because of how good of an athlete he is, but it appears the 6’6” athlete will play at Linebacker. He’s a guy I’m excited about as he continues to develop.
The Mike Linebacker position is LOADED with talent, but is largely inexperienced.
Jaren Kanak has been learning a position he’s never played before since stepping on campus, but has all the intangibles to be very good at the position and looks to be the favorite to start. Him and Stutsman together should form a lethal duo in the middle of the field.
A transfer from Ferris State, (Division II’s reigning national champions) Near is out to prove he belongs at the next level and has the experience to play immediately, in my opinion.
Kobie McKenzie was a little “puffy” and had some baby fat to trim off in his freshman season, but looks impressive now in year two. His inexperience will give way to Near early on, but he’ll rotate in often.
Phil Picciotti is a Freshman from IMG who’s physically ready from the start and will just need more time to get used to the college game and learn the defensive playbook.
A bit of a bold prediction, but I see Justin Harrington starting over Dasan McCullough at Venables “Cheetah” hybrid linebacker position, as his ability in coverage I believe will give him the slight edge.
McCullough I believe is peoples favorite to start at the Cheetah position and although I’m not projecting it, I do believe there’s a good chance it happens and that if he doesn’t start, he will see plenty of snaps at the position in a rotation with Harrington. He brings an exciting pass rush element at the position that I can’t wait to watch.
Venables has mentioned Peyton Bowen and Reggie Pearson as guys getting reps at Cheetah, but another name mentioned that caught my eye was athletic Freshman, Samuel Omosogho.
He was ranked 76th nationally, coming in at 7th overall at the Linebacker spot coming out of HS and definitely has the athleticism and coverage skills to have success at the position once he develops. Look for this to potentially be his starting spot as soon as next year.
This is a bit of a projection, but Erik McCarty is a Freshman who’s recovering from a torn ACL, who I can see working at the position in the future. A running back in high school, I think he has the athleticism to have success at the position if he adds weight and functional strength.
Gentry Williams physically looks different at the CB position than what Sooner fans have grown accustomed to in years past. He’s a burner who many expect to take a GIANT leap up this season.
Being called a “Pitt-Bull” on multiple occasions, Josiah Wagoner has impressed since day one of stepping on campus and should see rotational playing time this season because of that.
Kendal Dolby was the best Cornerback in the JUCO ranks last year and steps into the opportunity to see playing time immediately in this revamped secondary.
Jacobe Johnson is a a freakish athlete, as Cornerbacks coach Jay Valai (who’s spent time at Alabama) mentioned him as one of the most impressive Freshman athletically he has ever seen. HIGH praise. He is a raw prospect, but that athleticism will see him touch the field down the road.
Billy Bowman is arguably the best player on the defensive side of the ball, and will look to build off of his breakout performance last season. He’s an NFL level athlete, with an NFL ready body, who has NFL like instincts and makes NFL level plays in the secondary.
Nipping at his toes is five star Freshmen Peyton Bowen. Proven by his jaw dropping interception in the spring game, you can just tell that Bowen is simply just an elite playmaker in the back end of the defense. His playmaking ability will be too much for him to not have an expansive role in year one.
Freshman Daeh McCullough dwarfs compared to his brother, but is on a solid foundation physically for a first year prospect. He’ll need to learn and develop, but should be a factor in the future.
The hard hitting Reggie Pearson and his physicality will be a welcomed addition to the secondary, as I can already see a world to where Brent Venables gets creative and gets three safeties on the field, with rumors of Bowen and Person both working at the Cheetah position.
A world where Bowman, Bowen and Pearson are all on the field at the same time will make opposing offenses heads spin.
Key Lawrence is now a kid that was once full of youth and promise and has turned into a veteran in a blink of an eye. Athletic in coverage and physical as a tackler, if the game can continue to slow down for him and he can minimize his mistakes, we could see him on the field often as well.
Robert Spears-Jennings dealt with an injury this summer, but broke onto the scene and made some heads turn in his first year. I fully expect him to build off of that in year two and earn some snaps in a deep position group.
Woodi Washington is your unquestioned leader in the position group and is considered the teams “CB1”, in my opinion.
Behind him is Louisville transfer Kanai Walker, who’s very impressive physically and “looks the part”.
Speaking of impressive physically, Jayden Rowe is 6 foot 2, 224 pounds and can run like a Gazelle. He’s a potential “Cheetah” in my opinion, but seems to be working with the Cornerbacks currently. With Rowe, Gentry Williams, Kanai Walker and Jacobe Johnson in the position room, you can tell that Brent Venables has a type at the Cornerback position.
Makari Vickers is a versatile guy in the secondary, but I think this staff will start him out at corner instead of safety. A high four star recruit, his talent and versatility will allow him to get on the field sooner rather than later.
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