The Oklahoma defense made so many strides in improving during the 2015 season compared to 2014. But the 2016 squad will have to do it with zero first-team All-Big 12 members coming back.
Junior linebacker Dominique Alexander announced he will be leaving OU early and will enter the NFL Draft via Twitter late Saturday morning.
Alexander, for the second year in a row, totaled more than 100 tackles. He led the team with 103 stops this year, including 12 in the Sooners 37-17 loss to Clemson in the Capital One Orange Bowl on Thursday evening.
A two-year starter, Alexander earned first-team all-conference honors this season and was originally the Big 12’s Defensive Newcomer of the Year for the 2013 season.
An under-recruited hybrid linebacker/safety coming out of Tulsa (Okla.) Booker T. Washington, Alexander wasn’t eased into his time at OU. A season-ending injury to senior Corey Nelson threw Alexander right into the fire with his first start against Texas as a true freshman.
He fared well in that game and has simply never looked back although his announcement certainly came as a surprise to many who cover the Sooners on a day-to-day basis as Alexander was thought to be a guaranteed leader and captain for the Sooners in 2016.
Alexander is the second OU first-team all-Big 12 defender to announce he’s leaving early as cornerback Zack Sanchez did the same via Twitter on Friday morning.
Alexander was a key reason for why the Sooners were able to advance to the college football playoff and win its first outright Big 12 championship since 2012, anchoring the middle of OU’s defense.
Alexander’s departure means there are now five linebackers not returning to Norman as OU already knew it was losing Eric Striker, Devante Bond, P.L. Lindley and Frank Shannon because of graduation.
Striker and defensive end Charles Tapper also earned first team honors for the Sooners defense in 2015.