OU Countdown: Steven Parker

Safety has a chance to make a big jump as a sophomore in nickel back role

During the next two months leading up to the Big 12 Media Days in Dallas, Sooners Illustrated will breakdown the Oklahoma Sooners’ roster, starting with Dominique Alexander (No. 1 on the roster) and working all the way down to Dwayne Orso (No. 99) and the incoming freshmen.

We’ll look at last year’s performance, the best-case scenario for this season – without projecting injuries – and what each player means to the short-term or long-term success of the Sooners.

No. 10 - S Steven Parker (6-foot-1, 201 pounds)

31 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 6 PBUs

What happened last year: At times last season, Parker oozed promise and potential, showing incredible athleticism and a knack for run support. Other times, he just reeked – getting caught out of position in defensive pass coverage and leaving gaping holes at the back end of the defense. Coming into last season, he was considered to be the No. 4 safety on the depth chart – either strong or free – so jumping up into a starting role and beginning this year as the No. 1 safety regardless of role is a pretty significant jump.

Level of importance for Sooners (1-10): 8. Not only will Oklahoma need Parker to stabilize the back end of the defense, but the Sooners will also need him to avoid a sophomore slump, which based on his freshman year performance might all but end his playing time at Oklahoma. Instead, Parker should make a jump in play – having seen what it’s like to play at the collegiate level and moving to a more prominent position as well. He’ll play nickel back to start this season, or at least that’s the plan, and it’s an important role on the defense. Linebacker Eric Striker played it last year, and let’s not forget about Roy Williams, who played nickel back during his career at Oklahoma and then turned out a long career in the NFL.

Best-case scenario for this season: Parker is everything that Oklahoma expects him to be. As a starter from Day 1, he leaves no doubt. Stat-wise, he has about half a dozen sacks and eclipses the 50-tackle mark. He definitely grabs the first interception of his career, but because he’s allowed to lurk in the box, he actually finishes with double-digit tackles for loss. This season is big for Parker. And it’s big for the Sooners, too.

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