Oklahoma Sooners All-Decade Defense
The Sooners 2019 football season is complete as is the decade of the 2010s. We took an opportunity to see what Oklahoma needs to do in order to get over the playoff hump. Now, we move on to look at some of the best players in the last decade on the defensive side of the ball. Admittedly, this has not been the best decade for defense. However, the Sooners have still churned out some great players. Let’s get started with our Oklahoma Sooners All-Decade Defense.
We begin with Jeremy Beal. Admittedly, Beal is barely within the parameters of this decade. However, he did have his best overall season in 2010 so we’re going to count it. Beal ended his career with 29 sacks which is good for second to Cedric Jones. Also, he recorded 58.5 tackles for loss was the Big 12 defensive lineman of the year in 2010.
Next, we have Frank Alexander from 2008-2011. Again, he played in two decades. But, his best play was in 2010 and 2011. Alexander had 20.5 sacks for his Sooner career which lands him ninth all-time. He also amassed 44 tackles for loss in his career. He was a fourth-round draft pick in the 2012 NFL draft
Jordan Phillips comes as the only defensive tackle of the group. Phillips doesn’t have the same level of statistics that Beal and Alexander have but he was a much higher draft pick. Mike Stoops defense was designed to hold offensive linemen blocks to allow the linebackers to make plays. Phillips is the highest defensive draft pick for the Sooners since Gerald McCoy.
Finally, we have Geneo Grissom as our final defensive lineman on the Oklahoma Sooners All-Decade Defense. Grissom might be more known for his two game-changing plays against Oklahoma State and Alabama to close out the 2014 season. However, his career was solid when you take into account his 7.5 sacks and 16.5 tackles for loss as a two-year starter.
At the linebacker position, we have two prototypical linebackers and two-hybrid edge rushers. Travis Lewis and Kenneth Murray are two very instinctual linebackers. Whereas, Eric Striker and Ogbonnia Okoronkwo are linebackers by position. However, they were at their best rushing the quarterback
Lewis played linebacker for Oklahoma from 2007-2011. He was one of the most liked defensive players to wear a Sooner uniform. Lewis was a four-year starter for Oklahoma and a tackling machine. He ranks third all-time in program history with 446 tackles. However, he is number one in terms of the Big 12 record books.
Next, we have Striker who is certainly the most popular defensive player outside of Brian Bosworth to ever play the position. Striker ranks fifth all-time with 23 sacks as a Sooner. In 2015, he was a second-team All-American selection. He was every bit the same player that Baker Mayfield was for the Sooner defense in terms of his demeanor and style of play.
Then, we come to Okoronkwo. He comes in at seventh on the career sack list with 21 sacks for the Sooners. His final two seasons as a Sooner were electric as he had 17 sacks and 29 tackles for loss. In 2017, he was named the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. He was a fifth-round draft pick in the 2018 NFL draft.
Finally, we have Murray as the most recent great player at the position. He is tied for 14th with 325 career tackles. In fact, he ranks eight for most tackles in a season with 155. Murray has concluded his Sooner career with 36.5 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks. Perhaps the most physically gifted linebacker in the decade, Murray has a chance to be a first-round draft pick.
The secondary play has not been solid for the Sooners in the decade of the 2010s. However, there were two cornerbacks that ultimately stood out among the rest. Zack Sanchez and Aaron Colvin were not only great shut down corners at Oklahoma, but were also NFL players in the making.
Sanchez was a bit of a feast or famine player for Oklahoma. He took a lot of chances that caused him to get beat from time to time. But, those were actually fruitful for him as he came down with 15 interceptions for his career. That’s good enough for fourth on the all-time interceptions list. In fact, his last season was his personal best as he had seven interceptions and 45 tackles
Finally, we have Colvin handling the other cornerback spot for our Oklahoma Sooners All-Decade Defense. Colvin only had five interceptions for his career, but he ranks with 28 pass breakups for his time at Oklahoma. He was such a good one on one defender that many times quarterbacks would stay away from him.
In the same sentiment as the cornerbacks, safety was not a particularly strong position for Oklahoma in terms of team play. However, there were two individuals that stood out among the crown. And, those two were Tony Jefferson and Javon Harris. Both were head hunters and possessed great ball skills
First, let’s look at Harris. Harris ranks 23rd all-time for Oklahoma with nine interceptions from his safety position. In fact, he had six of those nine in his senior season of 2012. Overall that was Harris’ best season with tackles as well. He led the Big 12 in interceptions is 2012.
Now, we review the career of Jefferson. Jefferson had all the tools to be a great player for the Sooners. He came in as the fourth-ranked defensive back in the 2010 class. And, like many his best season in Norman was his 2012 season. He had 119 tackles and two interceptions which helped him become ranked as the 8th best safety in the country before being drafted by the Arizona Cardinals.