Ranking the Most Important on Defense: No. 4

NORMAN, Okla. — Sooners Illustrated is now just three days away from the top spot on the defensive countdown.

No. 4:

Player: Corey Nelson

Position: Starting weak side linebacker

The rundown: Nelson played in all 14 games as a true freshman and recorded 21 total tackles. The 6-foot-1, 219-pound backer did so in a special teams and reserve linebacker role. He managed 2.5 tackles for a loss of nine yards. Nelson blocked a punt out of the end zone in OU's 33-19 loss at Texas A&M. He recorded a career-high four tackles at Mizzou. He carried that momentum into spring ball, where he progressed massively, even recording four tackles in the Red-White Game.

Expectations for 2011: Coaches labeled him as the player who had the best spring. Linebacker Travis Lewis even said this guy was going to be a "player," and possibly better than him when it's all said and done. But no one knew that Nelson would be thrown into the fire without Lewis so quickly. Because of Lewis' broken toe in his left big foot, Nelson has assumed a much bigger role on this defense. He's stepped into the starting position at weak side in Lewis' absence and will have to be productive from the get-go. Nelson needs to and will be expected to arise as one of the players that stabilizes this defense until Lewis returns, and when he does, the Sooners will still find a way to get him on the field. That means his role this year is a large one.

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

No. 9: Tony Jefferson

No. 8: Jamell Fleming

No. 7: Demontre Hurst

No. 6: Jamarkus McFarland

No. 5: Ronnell Lewis

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

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