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. 26 - LB Jordan Evans (6-foot-3, 242 pounds)
93 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 1 interception, 2 forced fumbles, 3 PBUs
What happened last year: Evans was a bit of a surprise starter when linebacker Frank Shannon was removed from the team and the school. His play wasn’t much of a surprise, though. Everyone knew of Evans’ superior athleticism, and while his instincts sometime lagged behind, he was an extremely talented middle linebacker even in his first year as a starter with the Sooners. Evans made a few plays against Tennessee that helped Oklahoma turn the tight game into a rout.
Level of importance for Sooners (1-10): 8. A bigger, stronger Evans is just what the Sooners needed. Oklahoma has lacked big linebackers in the recent years, and Evans can be a change to that. He’s over 240 pounds and much bigger than last year. Evans doesn’t have the experience of fellow middle linebacker Dominique Alexander, but it seems as though Alexander will need a big season to not be passed by Evans as Oklahoma’s top middle linebacker. Evans meanwhile is poised to a big year.
Best-case scenario for this season: That big year shows up, and Evans finishes with 100-plus tackles – and very few of the dragged kind. He’s able to step up in holes and make the loss of Jordan Phillips a little less drastic with his block-shedding ability. With his speed still intact, Evans becomes almost indispensible on defense. As a result, it works to give pass-rush dynamo Eric Striker more rest, and Striker becomes more of a specialized player and a much fresher one at that. If defensive coordinator Mike Stoops has trouble figuring out which linebackers to use, then Evans has had (or is having) one heck of a season.