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.
What happened last year: Oklahoma’s three incoming safeties combined for more than 200 tackles during their final year in high school with Sunderland and Haughton each earning four-star honors.
Level of importance for Sooners (1-10): 6. The best collection of safeties ever recruited under Bob Stoops at Oklahoma has to come with a pretty high level of importance, especially since it seems pretty clear that one or two could be in the starting lineup by the end of the regular season. One will no doubt play a role immediately. It seems like Sunderland and Haughton will have the first chance. Both were Top-300 prospects with Sunderland peaking at No. 125. Oklahoma had no problem using Steven Parker early last season, and it probably won’t hesitate to call upon its young safeties this season, either.
Best-case scenario for this season: There doesn’t seem to be much faith in returning safeties Hatari Byrd and Ahmad Thomas outside of the program. All three of the incoming safeties could see action, but that’s probably not what Oklahoma is hoping will happen. One will probably catch at redshirt – and that’ll probably be McKinney. Sunderland might get the first shot at free safety, and Haughton could have a chance to earn some playing time at strong safety. That depends on what happens with Steven Parker and the nickel back experiment as well. Ultimately, two will see playing time and one would catch a redshirt.