Ranking the Most Important on Defense: No. 9

NORMAN, Okla. — Sooners Illustrated inches closer towards the top spot on this year's defensive countdown.

No. 9:

Player: Tony Jefferson

Position: Starting nickelback

The rundown: Like the previous player on the countdown, Jefferson came in and played as a true freshman. And he only rattled off 65 tackles, including seven for loss, as well as a pair of sacks and interceptions, plus a fumble recovery and seven passes broken up on his way to earning Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year. He started nine games and played in all 13 as a fifth defensive back, racking up a season-high 12 tackles at Cincinnati. One of Jefferson's interceptions was a 22-yard pick-six in the Fiesta Bowl against UConn.

Expectations for 2011: Jefferson is a very key component to this defense in 2011, as already evidenced by fall camp. The coaches showed their trust in Jefferson by shifting him to safety in order to get Corey Nelson on the field. That was before linebacker Travis Lewis' injury. Now he's back to the Sam linebacker/nickel position, where he'll be a significant contributor. Jefferson has all the tools of a versatile linebacker who should really step up and be a leader this year, especially with Lewis out early in the season.

Previous:

No. 25: Julian Wilson

No. 24: James Haynes

No. 23: Geneo Grissom

No. 22: Joe Powell

No. 21: Quentin Hayes

No. 20: Torrea Peterson

No. 19: Jaydan Bird

No. 18: R.J. Washington

No. 17: David King

No. 16: Sam Proctor

No. 15: Joseph Ibiloye

No. 14: Stacy McGee

No. 13: Javon Harris

No. 12: Casey Walker

No. 11: Gabe Lynn

No. 10: Aaron Colvin

Jump on into Sooner Magic Insider for discussion about the list.

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