Last year it was expected for Oklahoma to lose a big piece of its defense following the bowl game as it was pretty clear Jordan Phillips was going to leave OU and pursue a career in the NFL.
The only question for this year’s team was cornerback Zack Sanchez, but he ended the speculation by announcing via Twitter on Friday morning he is forgoing his redshirt senior season and declaring for the NFL Draft.
Sanchez seemed to be a 50/50 possibility. Not so much because of his talent, but because of the fact he essentially missed three full games and didn’t get to showcase his skills.
In 11 games this season, Sanchez led the team with seven interceptions, seven pass breakups and 14 passes defensed. He also had 45 tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss.
Sanchez was named the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week on two occasions this season and was the leader of a much improved OU secondary in 2015.
A one-time Baylor commit, the Sooners made a late charge at Sanchez a month before signing day for the 2012 class. After redshirting the 2012 season, Sanchez started in his first game in 2013 and simply never looked back.
Sanchez earned a reputation as perhaps the ultimate gambler, for better or worse. He trusted his instincts to make something happen, and he made a lot of big plays.
One of them happen to come in his final game. Sanchez picked off Clemson’s Deshaun Watson in the end zone in Watson’s first career red zone interception.
The No. 1-ranked Tigers bounced back to defeat the Sooners 37-17 on Thursday evening to end OU’s season.
Sanchez ends his OU career with 15 interceptions and having started 37 games. He is another crucial member of the 2012 class the Sooners will have to replace to go along with familiar names like Sterling Shepard, Ty Darlington, Charles Tapper and Eric Striker, among others.