Hite's OU 11: No. 4 Steven Parker

Sophomore at nickel back has a chance to make a big difference

During the next two weeks, Sooners Illustrated will rank Oklahoma’s players.

While Sooners Illustrated publisher Bob Przybylo will breakdown the best Sooners, we are talking about the most important players here – based on the opinion of Sooners Illustrated writer Justin Hite.

There will definitely be some crossover between the two lists, but this list in particular is based on who Oklahoma needs to be at the top of their game this season.

Let’s keep it rolling.

4. Steven Parker

The fact that Oklahoma re-made a position specifically for Parker should show exactly how valuable his skill set is to the Sooners this season – and probably for the next three.

Parker is a really special talent, and even as a true freshman last year, he flashed that skill and that potential. He also showed plenty of holes in his game. The coaching staff believes that is behind him, and Parker says he’s showing up this season with a differently mentality about himself.

There won’t be a player who can have a larger impact on the defensive side of any single game than Oklahoma linebacker Eric Striker. But Parker is a very, very close second.

“I think he’s starting to mature as a player,” Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. “. . . He just sees the game quicker. That comes from experience.”

That would answer most of Parker’s issues from last season, which stemmed from an eagerness to jump routes on most occasions. Still, he played his way into a starting role last season – finishing the year with four starts and 31 total tackles.

This season has to be better.

And it should be.

Parker is set up for a big sophomore season – placed in a more comfortable situation with enough experience to understand what he needs to do and what he sees in front of himself.

Parker should be able to make plays on either side of the line of scrimmage this season – hopefully picking up his first interception and his second sack. If Parker doesn’t succeed, Oklahoma could be in trouble. With the position that he’s in and the strides he’s made in the offseason, the Sooners need him to hold a fragile secondary together – with his play and his leadership.

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