Oklahoma Sooners: Ogbonnia Okoronkwo

With spring ball done, we’re re-examining and re-ranking the positional situations of every Big 12 team, continuing Monday with defensive line. These outlooks will look different in August. But here’s how we see them post-spring:

[+] EnlargeDevonte Fields
Jerome Miron/USA TODAY SportsWith a healthy and productive Devonte Fields this fall, TCU's defensive line could be an elite unit.
1. TCU (pre-spring ranking: 2): Devonte Fields appears to be back, which is a scary proposition for the rest of the Big 12. The 2012 Big 12 AP Defensive Player of the Year basically had a fruitless sophomore campaign, which ended with season-ending foot surgery. But this spring, defensive coordinator Dick Bumpas noted that Fields was making the plays he did as a freshman All-American. Even without Fields, this would be a good D-line, headlined by veteran tackles Chucky Hunter and Davion Pierson. But with Fields playing up to his potential, this line could be elite.

2. Oklahoma (1): Not only did the Sooners return the entire line that destroyed Alabama in the Allstate Sugar Bowl, they’ve added three redshirt freshmen who are clamoring for playing time. Charles Walker is the most athletic tackle on the roster, and he ran the fastest tackle 40 time (4.67 seconds) of the Bob Stoops era. Tackle Matt Romar quietly emerged this spring and could be on the verge of taking away snaps from some of the veterans inside. Ogbonnia Okoronkwo showed this spring he's yet another Sooner capable of getting to the quarterback off the edge. There's a debate on the best D-line in the league. There’s no debate on the deepest, with Oklahoma capable of going three-deep across the board.

3. Baylor (6): Coach Art Briles believes he has one of the best defensive lines in the country, and there's reason to believe he might be right. The Bears made the biggest jump on this list, thanks to the development of end Shawn Oakman and emergence of tackle Javonte Magee. Briles called the 6-foot-9 Oakman “unblockable” during the spring. Oakman already flashed plenty of potential last season as a sophomore, finishing sixth in the league with 12.5 tackles for loss. Magee, who might be the most highly-touted high school defender Briles has ever signed, sat out his freshman season while dealing with a personal issue. But he established himself this spring and could beat out returning starter Beau Blackshear. With former four-star signee Andrew Billings (who played as a true freshman) also poised for a big year at the other tackle spot, Briles could indeed be proven correct in the fall.

4. Texas (3): The Longhorns boast two of the league’s blue-chip defensive linemen in end Cedric Reed and tackle Malcom Brown. But whether this unit rises to the top of the league will hinge on the supporting cast. If athletic end Shiro Davis and run-stuffing tackle Desmond Jackson play up to their potential, and the Longhorns can get a boost from incoming freshmen Derick Roberson and Poona Ford, this could be a foundational positional unit in Charlie Strong’s first season.

5. Kansas State (4): Like Texas, the Wildcats have two blue-chip pieces returning up front in All-Big 12 end Ryan Mueller and tackle Travis Britz. They’re banking they’ll soon be adding a third in Terrell Clinkscales, who will be arriving to Manhattan shortly. Clinkscales, whom the Wildcats snatched away from Nebraska, was the nation’s No. 4-rated juco DT, and at 315 pounds, could be the run-stuffer K-State currently lacks.

6. Oklahoma State (5): With so much turnover elsewhere, the Cowboys will be counting on their line to be their anchor defensively. There’s reason to believe it could be that and more. Sam Wren received votes for Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year last season, while Emmanuel Ogbah garnered consideration for Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year. Throw in promising redshirt freshmen Vili Leveni, Ben Hughes and Vincent Taylor, who all showed signs this spring they might be ready to contribute, along with veterans James Castleman, Ofa Hautau and Jimmy Bean, and Oklahoma State could have the anchor up front it needs while the rest of the defense retools.

7. West Virginia (7): This will probably be the weakest area of West Virginia defense, but with their talent at linebacker, the Mountaineers don’t have to be great up front. Dontrill Hyman, Christian Brown and Kyle Rose are currently the starters coming out of the spring. But the player to watch up front is sophomore Darrien Howard, who rapidly progressed since having his redshirt pulled late in 2013. If Howard develops into an impact player, he could give the Mountaineers a huge jolt up front.

8. Texas Tech (9): The Red Raiders tried to get by this spring while awaiting the horde of defensive line help set to arrive this summer. All told, the Red Raiders signed four juco D-linemen, only one of which – Keland McElrath -- enrolled early (McElrath was hobbled by a stress fracture all spring to boot). To be better up front, Tech, which ranked ninth in run defense last fall, will need at least a couple of its juco transfers to hit.

9. Kansas (10): Keon Stowers quietly has become as one of the better tackles in the league. He was the defensive MVP of Kansas' spring game after collecting eight tackles from his defensive tackle spot, and he was voted captain for a second straight year. Stowers and linebacker Ben Heeney will lead a defense that returns nine starters and could surprise after gaining confidence from playing Oklahoma and Texas tough last season.

10: Iowa State (8): The Cyclones took it on the chin this spring, with projected D-line starters Rodney Coe and David Irving both getting kicked off the team. Iowa State got a boost shortly after spring ball ended when 2013 starting tackle Brandon Jensen changed his mind about leaving the team. The Cyclones should be solid at end with Cory Morrissey and Mitchell Meyers, but even with Jensen’s return, interior line depth is a major concern.
Oklahoma’s linebacker group have been the least talked about unit on the defense this spring.

Yet they were easily the Sooners’ most productive position group in 2013.

OU returns all three starters with Frank Shannon, Dominique Alexander and Eric Striker set to remain key contributors in the Sooners defense this fall. This spring, all three players are a year wiser, a year stronger, a year better and poised to become even more important to the Sooners defense this season.

“They are just playing faster and better,” defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. “The experience is so valuable. As good as those guys are, just playing the whole year in the system they understand it so much better. We have seen a lot of different schemes and hopefully we can react to plays better. I thought in games we were a little slow in adjusting and reacting to things just because we hadn’t experienced them before. Now we have a year under our belt to really dissect the good and the bad of it all and adjusting our personnel to match.”

While the ability to adjust will be key, the overall depth at the position could be better as well. Sophomore Jordan Evans is improving and could be the most athletic of the bunch and was exceptional when thrown into the fire with an eight-tackle performance against Texas Tech as a true freshman. Junior college transfer Devante Bond joins the roster, providing another pass rush threat in the mold of Striker and redshirt freshman Ogbonnia Okoronkwo is another young player who could earn himself some playing time if he proves to be a pass rushing threat.

“It is good,” Mike Stoops said. “I like our depth outside, I think we have to continue to gain some depth inside. The new additions, Devante Bond has been good and Obo [Okoronkwo], it has been good to have him back out there. He has a lot to learn, but they are very athletic and very fast. The important part of this whole deal is gaining quality depth and I think we are starting to do that.”
[+] EnlargeEric Striker
Robin Alam/Icon SMIEric Striker is a star on the OU defense but the Sooners need to find depth at his position.
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.

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.
NORMAN, Okla. -- It was like a tidal wave.

As the 2012 season came to a close, the Oklahoma defense was battered and bruised by offenses from West Virginia then Oklahoma State then Texas A&M. Yet as the 2013 season approaches, there are reasons to hope for success from the Sooners’ defense, but that hope doesn’t come without concerns. Here’s a look at three reasons for hope and three reasons for concern for the Sooners’ defense this fall.

Hope

More versatile: Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops has repeatedly said his goal is to make the Sooners defense more versatile in 2013. Expect more three-man fronts, more athleticism on the field and more creative use of the Sooners’ personnel in 2013. The key for OU as it transforms into a more versatile defense will be to make sure the defense transforms into a tougher and more aggressive defense as well.

[+] EnlargeAaron Colvin
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireCornerback Aaron Colvin is a proven player who gives the Sooners defense a lot of reason for hope.
Aaron Colvin: The senior cornerback returned to the Sooners after an All-Big 12 season in 2012. If he hadn’t returned, things would look really bleak in OU’s secondary. Now, the Sooners have a proven anchor to lean on during rough times, and Colvin has made a point to increase his leadership as a senior as well with several talented true freshman in the Sooners' defensive backfield.

The defense wasn’t near as bad in 2012 as it may seem: Even in the Sooners’ three losses, the defense shouldn't shoulder all of the blame. Turnovers doomed OU against Kansas State, a lackluster running game hurt them against Notre Dame, and an inability to capitalize in the red zone helped Texas A&M embarrass OU in the Cotton Bowl.

In 2012, opponents averaged 30.4 yards per drive, second in the Big 12 behind TCU, and opposing quarterbacks had a Big 12-worst 108.4 passer efficiency rating, according to ESPN Stats & Info. The Sooners defense had its moments but struggled to stop the run in the final few games, making things look worse than they actually were and catapulting its run defense atop its priority list in 2013. Things could have been a lot worse.

Concern

Lack of experience: Just four starters return to a defense that disappointed last season. The Sooners will, undoubtedly, use multiple true freshman on defense this season with safeties Hatari Byrd and Ahmad Thomas already looking ready to make an impact and other February signees like defensive end Ogbonnia Okoronkwo and linebacker Dominique Alexander putting themselves in position to push for playing time. And junior college defensive tackle Quincy Russell needs to live up to the hype. There will be a learning curve for the newcomers, so the Sooners just have to hope the good outweighs the bad.

Lack of playmakers along the defensive line: Stoops has preached the need for playmakers up front since the spring. OU badly needs someone to emerge along the defensive line. The Sooners’ pass rush was subpar in 2012, and their general lack of aggressiveness led to a Big 12-worst 53 tackles for loss. Russell's arrival brings some hope, and Jordan Phillips is very talented but must not be content to simply be on the field. He needs to strive to dominate. The Sooners have some talented youngsters but no proven game-changers.

Depth and the ability to adapt on the fly: OU will need to create some type of depth to give Stoops options as he tries to stop Big 12 defenses. The Sooners generally rotate their defensive front but could also rotate their linebackers and defensive backs to give those guys opportunities to impress in games, give the starters rest and create a competitive atmosphere each week. Then, as those backups emerge and push for bigger roles, Stoops can come up with various packages to matchup better with Big 12 offenses on a weekly basis or even during games.
NORMAN, Okla. -- Halfway through preseason camp is a terrific time to look at some unknown Sooners who could end up being a significant contributors in 2013. Here are five guys who could make a difference in crimson and cream in 2013.

RB Alex Ross: The redshirt freshman almost played his way out of a redshirt season in 2012 but eventually used the year off to get better prepared to be an impact runner. Even though the Sooners return three seniors at running back, Ross brings a combination of size and speed that is difficult to duplicate.

[+] EnlargeAlex Ross
Cal Sport Media via AP ImagesAfter redshirting in 2012, former ESPN 300 running back Alex Ross will likely make an impact for the Sooners this fall.
Coach Bob Stoops even singled out Ross after the Sooners’ first scrimmage on Aug. 10. Look for Ross to get some carries this season as he strives to set himself up to be the main in the backfield in 2014.

“Ross was a guy who really stood out in the scrimmage with speed and being powerful,” Stoops said.

WR Lacoltan Bester: A junior college signee in the Class of 2012, Bester barely made waves as a newcomer last fall. This season, he’s poised to earn some playing time, possibly even start, during his final year in crimson and cream.

He’s another player coming off a solid scrimmage on Saturday and he started the spring game last April. One of the most competitive receivers on the roster, Bester’s name consistently comes off the tongue of Aaron Colvin when the Sooners’ cornerback is asked which receiver could surprise in 2013.

S Hatari Byrd: The true freshman from Fresno, Calif., has been the buzz of preseason camp. His college-ready size and focused mentality should help him carve himself a role in the defense this fall. Byrd has impressed with his versatility -- he actually lined up at three different spots in the first three days of camp.

He’s very knowledgeable,” defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. “He’s easy to coach. He wants to be great. His maturity level is one of the highest I’ve seen this early on in a career. That’s a very unique set of tools to work with in a kid this young. He may be the biggest, fastest guy we’ve seen at this age.”

DE Ogbonnia Okoronkwo: It won’t be easy for the true freshman to see the field this season with several talented youngsters alongside him in the defensive line meeting room. Yet the Sooners desperately need a pass rush. And Okoronkwo might be the answer.

He has impressed with his pass rushing skills during his first few months on campus and even though he’s a tad undersized at 6-foot-3, 214 pounds, don’t be surprised to see him play his way out of a redshirt season.

S Ahmad Thomas: Pretty much every time Byrd’s name comes up among his teammates, that Sooner will add Thomas’ name into the mix. People tend to forget about the true freshman from Miami, Fla., but he was one of the stars of spring after enrolling early.

With the Sooners looking to add additional depth and overall talent in the secondary, Thomas should be able to help OU immediately. His size and willingness to play physical are unusual for a true freshman.
It’s midway through Oklahoma’s preseason camp, so there’s no better time to update the position battles that could define the Sooners season.

[+] EnlargeBlake Bell
Alonzo Adams/USA TODAY SportsBlake Bell remains favored to start at quarterback for the Sooners, but the competition is far from over.
Quarterback: Blake Bell remains the favorite to start the season opener, but the quarterback competition rages on in Norman. Bell continues to work on playing mistake-free football, while redshirt freshman Trevor Knight has been impressive in the preseason even though he hasn’t knocked Bell out of his favorite status. The Sooners’ coaching staff has been diligent about keeping the competition open, and nobody has stepped up and won the job at this point. This competition could continue into the season, particularly with Kendal Thompson set to return early in the year.

Left tackle: Quite frankly it appears this was more of a competition last August than it is this August. Tyrus Thompson is the clear favorite to replace Lane Johnson after battling Johnson to start at left tackle during last year’s preseason camp. Thompson brings versatility and immense talent to the table, making him difficult to supplant. Derek Farniok and Josiah St. John are in the mix at the position and are looking to join the Sooners’ tackle rotation alongside Thompson and starting right tackle Daryl Williams.

Safety: The coaches really like Gabe Lynn's veteran presence at safety and have Quentin Hayes, another player with at least three years on campus, at the other safety spot. But both players will have to hold off a strong push from true freshmen Hatari Byrd and Ahmad Thomas. The duo arrived on campus with college-ready bodies and undoubtedly will see the field as freshman. Don’t be surprised if one or both show up in the starting lineup at some point this season.

Defensive end: With Chuka Ndulue moving to defensive tackle, OU is looking to replace both defensive ends. Geneo Grissom started the Cotton Bowl and appears solid at one defensive end slot. At the other position, Charles Tapper has been running with the starters but will have to hold off a strong push from other talented youngsters, including true freshman Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, who is drawing rave reviews for his pass-rushing skills.

Receiver: Jalen Saunders and Sterling Shepard are locked in as playmakers for the Sooners' offense. Both players can be difference makers with the ball in their hands and should get the majority of the snaps at inside receiver. On the outside, Lacoltan Bester is making a strong push this preseason to be in the starting lineup in the opener. Trey Metoyer could be the most talented of the bunch, and Durron Neal displayed playmaking ability in the spring game. Even though Neal and Metoyer have more fanfare, Bester is setting himself up to see plenty of playing time as a senior.
The loss of Oklahoma’s top defensive recruit in its Class of 2013 is disappointing but not crippling for the Sooners.

Freshman defensive end D.J. Ward is projected to miss six weeks after having his spleen removed on Tuesday. But the Oklahoma native wasn't poised to make a major impact on the Sooners defense in 2013 even though he enrolled early to participate in spring football with an eye on making an immediate impact during his first season.

D.J. Ward
Bob Przybylo/ESPN.comHaving his spleen removed was the latest setback for freshman defensive end D.J. Ward since committing to Oklahoma.
It is a major setback for Ward however, as he’s faced with spending more time watching from the sidelines after missing his entire senior season of high school. His last full season of playing football was 2011 when he was a junior at Lawton (Okla.) High School. He missed his final prep campaign after transferring to Oklahoma City (Okla.) Douglass then Moore (Okla.) Southmoore and being ruled ineligible to play. He also missed the majority of spring drills as he waited to be cleared to participate, so being able to spend as much time on the field as possible was important for Ward this August. Now, his development has taken another step backward.

Meanwhile, the Sooners should able to handle the loss with ease. Sophomore Charles Tapper is a different player in his second year in Norman after arriving to campus as a raw, yet talented, prospect at defensive end. He’s currently running with the No. 1 defense along with junior Geneo Grissom.

The impact of Ward’s injury will start to hit the Sooners as they try to encourage competition and create depth at the position. Freshman Ogbonnia Okoronkwo has been impressive during preseason camp and could be poised to provide depth in Ward’s absence. Fellow freshman Matt Dimon has also impressed teammates early on. Sophomore Michael Onuoha, who could eventually battle Tapper to start, should return from a shoulder injury early in the season to provide additional options for defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery.
Damien WilliamsAP Photo/Cal Sport MediaSenior Damien Williams is one of a deep stable of Oklahoma running backs that are capable of making an impact for the Sooners this season.
It's an unusual role for Bob Stoops' program as Oklahoma prepares for 2013 season with minimal expectations to insert itself into the BCS title hunt. The Sooners have several talented, deep position groups and other position groups full of uncertainty. Here's a look at OU's position groups ranked from strongest to weakest.

The Sooners have gotten some pretty good players to flip from Oklahoma State in recent years, notably Ryan Broyles and Demontre Hurst. This year, the Sooners were at it again, picking off defensive end Ogbonnia Okoronkwo from the Cowboys.

Okoronkwo checked in with SoonerNation prior to enrolling at OU in June to discuss what made him switch, and what he thinks of the defensive end position in Norman:

Ogbonnia Okoronkwo
Sam Khan Jr./ESPN.comCould 2013 signee Ogbonnia Okoronkwo become the Sooners' pass-rushing specialist?
SoonerNation: What jersey are you wearing?

Ogbonnia Okoronkwo: I’m hoping it stays 12. I know there’s a 12 on offense, but not on the defense. But I don’t know for sure.

SN: 12 is an odd number for your position. Why 12?

Okoronkwo: My coach gave it to me. I remember I had a choice between 99 and 12, and I grabbed the 12, and have been sticking with it ever since.

SN: Have the coaches talked with you about your potential role this fall?

Okoronkwo: They have been been telling me to really get after the passer, that they might have me as a third-down specialist, to bring pressure. That’s my specialty, the strength in my game.

SN: What will you be working on before you get on campus?

Okoronkwo: What I’ve been working on most is my versatility, as far as being able to move in the flats, as well as my physicality. I know the game speed is going to change, but I know the strength of the O-linemen will, too. I’m not going to be able to throw O-linemen around like I did in high school.

SN: What are you most excited about coming to OU?

Okoronkwo: I’m most excited about getting up there and earning my spot.

SN: What are you planning to get your degree in?

Okoronkwo: Pharmacy. I’ve always been interested in medicine.

SN: What player do you look up to most on the current OU team?

Okoronkwo: I admire Tapp [Charles Tapper]. He’s got a basketball background, can move really well.

SN: Who did you like watching the most last year?

Okoronkwo: I think I watched Chuka [Ndulue] the most. Or David King.

SN: What did you make of Chuka moving inside?

Okoronkwo: I thought it was a good move for him, just for the fact he’s very strong, explosive, he could bring speed. Moving inside he can bring more of a pass rush.

SN: Seems like OU has several up-and-coming players at your position. Is that exciting?

Okoronkwo: I am excited. We have all types of different D-ends. The traditional D-ends, Then a lot of new D-ends. Those coming in are more speedy that can get after the passer.

SN: When did you know OU was the place for you?

Okoronkwo: I knew it was the place maybe six hours into the visit. The atmosphere, it was nothing like I had seen before.

SN: You were previously committed to Oklahoma State. How did they take it when you told them you were coming to OU?

Okoronkwo: They were actually pretty understanding, but I knew they felt like it was a slap in the face.

SN: Who did you tell?

Okoronkwo: Coach [Bill] Young and coach Van Malone.

SN: What’s it going to be like playing them?

Okoronkwo: I know when we play them I’ve got to ball. I know that game is going to be the game I have to show up.
It sure felt like linebacker Jordan Evans was just an afterthought at Oklahoma’s camp a year ago. OU appreciated him coming out for the event, but the Sooners' coaching staff was looking elsewhere.

But all Evans did was make one big play after another in his senior season, earning an OU offer during Bedlam weekend. Once the offer was made, it was a countdown to his commitment.

Less than 72 hours after being offered, Evans was committed and is set to follow in his father’s footsteps while blazing his own trail. His father, Scott, was a defensive tackle for OU from 1987-1990.

[+] EnlargeJordan Evans
Bob Przybylo/ESPN.comSignee Jordan Evans says he plans to play linebacker, not defensive end, for the Sooners.
Before his arrival on campus, Evans talked to SoonerNation.

SoonerNation: What jersey are you going to be wearing at OU?

Jordan Evans: I do not know right now. I want No. 6, but I might be No. 26. I’ll find out later.

SN: Who is your roommate going to be?

Evans: Obo [DE Ogbonnia Okoronkwo]. I’ve become really close to the guys in Houston. We were all on our visit together and have developed a strong bond.

SN: What have the OU coaches said your potential role could be in the fall?

Evans: They don’t have a specific role for me right now. They’ve just told me to come in and compete. Go as hard as I possibly can.

SN: There has been some talk about moving to defensive end. Has that been brought up?

Evans: No, I’m a linebacker.

SN: With that said, what did the OU coaches want you to work on before getting to campus?

Evans: They wanted me to get my weight up. I’m about 220 right now. I ran track in the spring but kept lifting. I feel really good right now.

SN: Craziest week of your life, right? Win the state semifinal game Friday, offered by OU on Saturday and getting ready to play in first ever state championship game in Norman North history?

Evans: That really was a crazy time. They offered. I took a few days. A lot of thoughts were going through my head. It almost seemed unreal. Going to state, going to the OU game and committing. I never would have thought that possible.

SN: Who are some of the players you have been talking to the most?

Evans: I talk to the linebackers a lot, obviously. Frank Shannon, Corey Nelson, Eric Striker and Londell Taylor. I talked to Shannon when I was up there, so he has been the main guy.

SN: What do you want your legacy to be when you leave OU?

Evans: I hope it’s for being a stud, on and off the field. That I was somebody who did everything he was supposed to do.

SN: Now that the process is over with, what sort of insight did your father give you about everything? How happy is he that you’re going to be a Sooner, too?

Evans: Throughout the process, he was giving me tips. But now it all starts over again. It’s time to restart. I’ve got to do this and do that. Listen and work hard. Now’s the time for me to make my own footsteps. I love my father, but I have to become my own man.
Every Friday, SoonerNation releases the Sooner Intel, a sneak peek inside Oklahoma Sooners football recruiting with news and notes on the latest happenings around the program. Talk about it on our forum. A few things discussed in this week's update:

  • A recent defensive offer will be at the Sooners' summer camp.
  • A Houston wideout has Oklahoma on top of his list.
  • One Arizona ESPN 150 cornerback is planning to take an official visit to OU.
  • ESPN 150 athlete and his coach will be in Norman for OU's camp.
  • More on the Sooners' sleeper commit, cornerback Tito Windham.
  • Was OU's offensive line commit always destined to be a Sooner?
  • An in-state defensive tackle could be offered soon.
  • Why OU hasn't made up ground with four-star defensive end Deondre Clark.

Read the Sooner Intel after the jump.


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Not every position has gone smoothly for Oklahoma on the recruiting trail the last few years. But if there’s one spot OU fans can usually feel comfortable with, wide receiver is definitely up there.

Year after year, wide receivers coach Jay Norvell has done a tremendous job bringing in top talent. And every offseason during which the Sooners are able to keep Norvell from taking another job simply means more good things to come for OU.

Nick Alexander
Bob Przybylo/ESPN.comIt's early, but WR target Nick Alexander looks promising for OU, considering two teammates have also committed to the Sooners.
The Class of 2014 was off to a great start with ESPN Watch List receiver Armanti Foreman (Texas City, Texas/Texas City) having committed in October. But several top schools have been in pursuit of him and combined with Foreman's desire to play with his brother, he decommitted from the Sooners on Monday night.

Foreman isn't out of the picture. But if he is, that's something OU can adjust to because Norvell has more tricks up his sleeve and already has offered several quality names:


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Every Friday, SoonerNation releases the Sooner Intel, a sneak peek inside Oklahoma Sooners football recruiting with news and notes on the latest happenings around the program. Talk about it on our forum. A few things discussed in this week's update:

  • Could the Sooners add a top receiver at their spring game?
  • A Texas wideout is hoping to visit Oklahoma soon.
  • Texas athlete is focused on a handful of schools.
  • Will an in-state linebacker make another visit to OU?
  • A Sooners signee is "like a big brother" to a 2014 target.
  • What's next for ESPN Watch List safety Steven Parker?
  • A Florida wideout has a connection to a new OU assistant coach.

Read the Sooner Intel after the jump.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

After recruiting them for several months, Oklahoma's coaching staff was finally able to talk publicly about the players the Sooners added to the program on signing day. Over the next week or so, SoonerNation will review some of the key things coaches had to say about the players signed at each position group during their signing day webcast on Soonersports.com.

Ogbonnia Okoronkwo
Sam Khan Jr./ESPN.comThe Sooners like Ogbonnia Okoronkwo's pass rush abilities.
Defensive end signee Ogbonnia Okoronkwo (Houston/Alief Taylor) is one of the most intriguing signees in the class. At 6-foot-3, 220 pounds, Okoronkwo doesn't really fit the prototypical description of a Sooners defensive end. But he's a perfect fit for a hybrid defensive end/linebacker/pass rush specialist, a spot that could be useful against the various offenses in the Big 12.

"He’s a a smaller guy," defensive ends coach Bobby Jack Wright said. "[An] edge rusher, drop linebacker type of guy. He has get off, very physical, very talented, fast and explosive."

Okoronkwo displays terrific pass rushing ability, making it quite possible that he finds his way onto the field this fall if he shows a consistent ability to get to the quarterback during preseason camp in August.

"[He has] great acceleration," defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. "This is what we need on our defensive front. Guys that can make plays, get off blocks and rush the quarterback. He’s a tremendous rusher that gives us a speed guy off the edge.”

Which the Sooners were sorely lacking in 2012 as OU finished with 24 sacks in 13 games and no Sooner had more than 4.5 sacks. Okoronkwo will be overmatched by most offensive lineman but the Sooners are confident his quickness and relentlessness will overcome any physical disadvantage he faces in pass rush situations.

"Obo is a high motor guy, his motor never stops," linebackers coach Tim Kish said. "He’s going to give us that outside, off the edge pressure that we’re looking for."

Position breakdown: Defensive end 

February, 22, 2013
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NORMAN, Okla. -- Nowhere have the Sooners done a better job compiling young talent defensively than at defensive end.

But two questions loom going into the spring. Will that young talent be ready to contribute to a defense in need of impact performers? And how will the Sooners use their defensive ends?


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Video: Day 2 at Big 12 media days
Jake Trotter and Brandon Chatmon discuss Big 12 media days Day 2.
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