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. 97 - DT Charles Walker (6-foot-2, 299 pounds)
10 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 0.5 sacks
What happened last year: The talk about Walker last season was more about what he could eventually do – and what he was doing on the practice field – than what he was doing during games. He played in eight games but set a career-high with five tackles and half a sack in the Russell Athletic Bowl.
Level of importance for Sooners (1-10): 6. Walker is set to take the starting spot opposite Charles Tapper, creating what could be a pretty talented duo of pass rushers. They’ll look good coming off the bus, at the very least. Walker might have to be more of a pass-rushing specialist after Tapper struggled last season when he was looked at in that role. Of course, the importance for any of the defensive linemen could change based on what type of front the Sooners’ settle on to start the season. Walker is listed on the online roster as a defensive tackle. That might be the most telling of how important he could be. He’s undersized for a 3-4 nose tackle, but in a 4-man front, he could be extremely disruptive.
Best-case scenario for this season: Walker has the ability and the skill set to eclipse half a dozen sacks and near double digit totals in tackles for loss in his first season as a starter. That would be quite a contribution. If the Sooners are in a four-man front the majority of the time, expect those numbers. If not, there’s no telling what Walker’s season could look like. He’d be a game-changer at defensive tackle in a 4-man front as well because of his ability to knife through the offensive line. Ultimately, Walker will make a difference for Oklahoma’s defensive front. It’s just a matter of from where and how much of it will be in statistical form.