OU 11 - Defense: No. 9

The OU 11 returns this week with No. 9 as we continue to count 'em down on defense.

Football season is almost here for Oklahoma. And SoonersIllustrated.com is eager to get you ready for what could be a memorable 2014 season.

During the next two weeks, Bob Przybylo and Justin Hite are going to reveal their top 11 players on offense and defense and how those players will impact what happens on the field this fall. Let the countdown and debates begin.

Defense

No. 9

Bob Przybylo:Safety Hatari Byrd. Most (myself included) thought Byrd was going to be able to walk onto campus and be the full-time starter by season’s end.

Obviously that didn’t happen, but you can tell Byrd has not been discouraged. He saw one great friend in L.J. Moore leave the program, but he has also seen his cousin, Michiah Quick, join the program.

And if you’ve read any of Byrd’s tweets from the last week, you can see he is 100 percent focused on his sophomore season and making an impact.

Byrd had a quality spring where you could tell the speed of the game had slowed down for him. Safety is always so crucial for the Sooners in terms of being that quarterback of the secondary, and Byrd seemed at ease in that spot during practices.

There’s still no guarantee Byrd is going to be the guy when Aug. 30 rolls around, but he has the right attitude heading into camp.

Justin Hite: Defensive tackle Jordan Phillips. In the Sooners’ new scheme, it would be best if no one ever heard from Phillips.

He’ll have to shake of a back injury, and at 6-foot-6, 334 pounds, he’s a perfect fit for a defensive tackle/nose guard in a three-man front.

In a perfect world, Phillips will eat up two gaps with ease. His size would make that seem like a possibility, but it’s a tough transition. Phillips’ best contribution would be to free up Frank Shannon and Dominique Alexander to make plays.

His job will be easy, there will just be a high demand for him to be extremely consistent.

He had seven tackles and one sack in just four games last year. Oklahoma will need him to play big coming back from an injury, but the Sooners are far from sunk if he re-aggravates the injury.


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