With the Fiesta Bowl less than a week away the Sooner coaching staff is getting a more in-depth look at the 2011 class and what the players who red-shirted bring to the table so far. It won't be long until the next class of incoming freshman arrive in Norman and get their chance to try and earn their way on the field as well.Here is who we think could see the field next year on defense.
Nathan Hughes, DE – At 6-foot-5 and 257-pounds Hughes will already be one of the biggest defensive ends the Sooners have on campus next year. Hughes is strong and when he plays with good technique can be hard to stop even when being double teamed. He even lined up at middle linebacker this year for his high school squad which speaks to his athletic ability. If he can get stronger over the summer to deal with the bigger offensive lineman he will see on a consistent basis in college then Hughes could have as good a chance as anybody in this class to see the field next season, even with the talent that is returning at his position.
Frank Shannon, S – Shannon looks destined to play the Roy back position for the Sooners when he arrives in Norman next summer. At 6-foot-2 and 205-pounds he appears to be a tweener at safety and linebacker at the college level. He will most likely put on weight once he gets in Schmitty's workout program this summer. When looking at the last few players to play the Roy back position for the Sooners they saw the field early so we don't see why that would change with Shannon. Like Joseph Ibiloye, who played as a red-shirt freshman or Tony Jefferson who played as a true freshman this year. With talk of Jefferson maybe moving to the free safety position Shannon could definitely reap the benefits of that move if it happens and see the field next season when Ibiloye needs a breather.
P.L. Lindley, LB – Lindley definitely appears to be bigger than his listed 6-foot-2 and 205-pounds. He is fast; he excels in coverage and plays well in space. He also does a good job in the special teams department when covering kickoffs. That just screams playing time as a true freshman when playing for Coach Venables. Lindley just appears to bring a different set of tools to the table then the normal ferocious hitters and aggressive run stuffing linebackers that the Sooner coaching staff is used to recruiting.
Jordan Wade, DT – At 6-foot-4 and 290-pounds Wade already has the size to play from day one when he gets to Norman. He is probably the strongest of the three incoming defensive tackles. When combining his size and strength in the middle along with the new 50-scheme the Sooners appear to be moving to more and more, Wade could have a chance to see the field next year.
Marquis Anderson, DT – Anderson will be enrolling early and taking part in spring practice which will definitely go a long way with his maturation as a defensive tackle. Thing is Anderson will need to add quite a bit of size to see the field next year. And with what the Sooners return at the position Coach Shipp can afford to let him do just that throughout his freshman year.
Jordan Phillips, DT - Phillips has unbelievable athletic ability, the size to play at the next level and the speed to be a game changer at the defensive tackle position. He would however benefit from a redshirt year to learn better technique and get stronger in the weight room.
Cooper Washington, DE – Washington will definitely bring speed to the table when he puts on the Crimson and Cream next year. But at 6-foot-4 and 225-pounds he will need time to put on weight and gain some strength before he is ready to see the field at the next level under Coach Bobby Jack Wright.Midlands Recruiting Director Greg Powers contributed to this report.