State of the position: DE/LB hybrid
January, 24, 2014
By Brandon Chatmon | ESPN.com
In the next few weeks leading into signing day it’s a great time to take a position-by-position glance at Oklahoma’s returning roster. This series, called State of the Position, will look at the playmakers, up-and-comers, and current commitments or targets at each position for the Sooners as recruiting really heats up during these final weeks before signing day on Feb. 5. On Thursday, we take a closer look at the hybrid defensive end/linebacker position currently manned by Eric Striker.
Robin Alam/Icon SMIEric Striker is a star on the OU defense but the Sooners need to find depth at his position.
Starter/contributors: Eric Striker (Jr.)
Striker has been one of the best pass rushers on the team since he stepped on campus in 2012. He was finally unleashed as a sophomore and finished with a team-high 6.5 sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss. Striker’s Sugar Bowl performance against Alabama’s Cyrus Kouandjio, a projected first-round NFL draft pick, will be remembered as his breakout performance, even though he earned second-team All-Big 12 honors for his relentless edge pressure during the regular season. It’s hard to imagine a better situation at the top of the depth chart.
On the cusp: Ogbonnia Okoronkwo (RFr.)
Okoronkwo’s signing in February 2013 was the first signal OU was moving to a three-man front. Despite impressing during summer workouts and preseason camp, he ended up redshirting during his first semester. He’s inexperienced but has a ton of talent and should bring some talented depth behind Striker in 2014.
On the recruiting trail: Curtis Bolton (Murrieta, Calif./Vista Murrieta)
Much like Okoronkwo, Bolton is a prep defensive end with superb pass rush skills and the versatility to play a hybrid role in OU’s defense. He could end up at several different spots in OU’s defense but the defensive end/linebacker hybrid spot seems ideal for his skill set and it would seem a waste of his pass rush skills to place him anywhere else.
Overall Grade: B+
Striker’s excellence raises this grade above a C because there is very little experience behind him in Okoronkwo and Bolton, although there are other Sooners defenders who can slide into this spot.
Top Returning Players: Big 12
BIG 12 SCOREBOARD
Final Washington State 45 Colorado State 48 Final 20 Fresno State 20 25 USC 45 Final Buffalo 24 San Diego State 49 Final Tulane 21 Louisiana-Lafayette 24
Final Pittsburgh 30 Bowling Green 27 Final Utah State 21 23 Northern Illinois 14
Final Marshall 31 Maryland 20 Final Syracuse 21 Minnesota 17 Final Brigham Young 16 Washington 31
Final Rutgers 16 Notre Dame 29 Final Cincinnati 17 North Carolina 39 Final Miami (FL) 9 18 Louisville 36 Final Michigan 14 Kansas State 31
Final Middle Tennessee 6 Navy 24 Final Ole Miss 25 Georgia Tech 17 Final 10 Oregon 30 Texas 7 Final 14 Arizona State 23 Texas Tech 37
Final Arizona 42 Boston College 19 Final Virginia Tech 12 17 UCLA 42 Final Rice 7 Mississippi State 44 Final 24 Duke 48 21 Texas A&M 52
Final Nebraska 24 22 Georgia 19 Final UNLV 14 North Texas 36 Final Iowa 14 16 LSU 21 Final 19 Wisconsin 24 9 South Carolina 34 Final 5 Stanford 20 4 Michigan State 24 Final 15 UCF 52 6 Baylor 42
Final 13 Oklahoma State 31 8 Missouri 41 Final 12 Clemson 40 7 Ohio State 35