Depth and quality depth at that has been a big part of the problem over the years in the middle part of Oklahoma’s defense. However, with improved recruiting and player development that is no longer the case. Oklahoma returns all of their starters and gets some additional depth returning. Now, we’ll look at the linebackers in our eighth Oklahoma Sooners spring positional preview.
Oklahoma Sooners Spring Preview: Linebackers
Much like the defensive tackles and defensive ends, Oklahoma has not seen much attrition at the linebacker position. Robert Barnes and Jon-Michael Terry are the only losses at the linebacker position. Barnes’ ability to step in and play multiple positions will be something that is missed from a depth perspective. He moved from safety to linebacker in 2020 but had to slide back to safety when Oklahoma’s secondary was depleted against Baylor. Barnes will play at Colorado in 2021 and Terry is enrolled in Tulsa.
Oklahoma is mainly status quo at the linebacker position for 2021. That is, with the lone exception of Caleb Kelly. Kelly’s story is heartbreaking as he will now enter his sixth season in Norman. He has had his seasons cut short both in 2019 and 2020 due to injury. If for no other reason, having him back from an experience perspective alone is important for the entire linebacking corps.
The Sooners received excellent news when rush linebacker Nik Bonitto elected to return to Oklahoma. Bonitto led the team with nine sacks and will be a critical part of the defense. David Ugwoegbu looks primed to challenge DaShaun White for the starting spot at the Mike position. Brian Asamoah had a solid first year as a starter with 66 tackles, two sacks, and an interception. He is fully entrenched as the Will linebacker.
Between Asamoah and Bonitto the Rush and the Will positions are fairly settled from a starting position. However, the best competition could be between Ugwoegbu and White at the Mike. From a depth perspective, it should be interesting to see where Brynden Walker and Shane Whitter. Both played more when the game was out of reach, but it was clear to see that when both of them were on the field there was very little drop-off. Keep an eye on how much they see the field in the spring.
Projected Depth Chart
- Nik Bonitto
- Brynden Walker
- Clayton Smith
- David Ugwoegbu
- DaShaun White
- Shane Whitter
- Brian Asamoah
- Caleb Kelly
- Danny Stutsman
In case you missed it
We will be previewing each and every positional unit on defense over the coming weeks. If you missed anything, we will reference it here.