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.
Bob Przybylo: Defensive back Julian Wilson. Hesitant to say cornerback, safety or nickelback so let’s just stick with defensive back for now.
Wilson made it clear at Big 12 media days he wants that shot at linebacker and believes he is the man to start opposite Zack Sanchez. Not sure if he is, but he’s definitely going to get that opportunity.
Wilson’s career has been one of the more quiet quality performances in a while at OU. Because most saw Wilson as a huge bust waiting to happen who would never play anything more than special teams.
He wasn’t the most heralded out of that incredible group at Moore Southmoore, but he’s the last man standing and will find a starting role somewhere with this team.
Wilson makes a lot of plays on the field, but it’s his attitude and maturity off the field that has him so high in this list. You can tell from talking to him how much this season is going to mean to him and just how much he understands all the intricacies of the defense.
Justin Hite: Middle linebacker Frank Shannon. There’s a cloud around Shannon right now, asking whether or not he’ll play. If he does, he could be a contender for a post-season award. If he doesn’t, Oklahoma will manage without him – although the national championship hopes could be in question.
Shannon possesses great play recognition, and you can’t discount 92 tackles, seven of which were for a loss. In a 3-3-5, he’ll be asked to do a lot, although his 238-pound frame should enable him to shed blocks.
All of the playing time Shannon has seen through the first two years of his playable career has been earned. He forced himself into the rotation two years ago, and last season, he asserted himself as a primary player on the Oklahoma defense.
Shannon seems to have very capable back-ups behind him, making his overall importance much less. He’ll be a big loss, as would anyone on the defense from this point forward, but his loss – expected or otherwise – would not be a big as the players to follow.