Revisiting OU's 2016 class: Defense

How will the 2016 defensive class for OU factor into the season? Some names to watch.

With spring in the books for Oklahoma, you start to get a better feel of what the Sooners are going to look like for the 2016 season.

The good and the bad. Keeping that in mind, Sooners Illustrated is going back to the 2016 class and seeing how realistic it is for this group to make an impact on the field for the Sooners in the fall based off what we saw in Norman during the spring.


Defensive end

Signed: Amani Bledsoe

Impact: To be determined. Nobody would know Bledsoe better than first-year defensive line coach Calvin Thibodeaux after recruiting him so hard when he was coaching at Kansas. On paper, it doesn’t seem like there is room for Bledsoe to truly make a mark with guys like Charles Walker, D.J. Ward, Matt Dimon, among others, in front of him. But Bledsoe is a different breed than those guys in terms of his natural size. If he picks up the scheme, don’t count him out.

Defensive tackle

Signed: None

Impact: N/A. Once again with no defensive tackle signed for the 2016 class, what that has done is shone a spotlight on how crucial the 2017 crop will be. With top targets like Houston Bellaire Episcopal’s Marvin Wilson and Plano (Texas) East’s Deiontae Watts out there, this is where Thibodeaux could make a huge initial splash.

Outside linebacker

Signed: Mark Jackson, Caleb Kelly, Emmanuel Beal

Impact: Considerable. The only thing holding these guys back will be the fact most of OU’s opponents will be featuring the spread offense so don’t be surprised if there’s only like three linebackers or less on the field. Jackson and Kelly are supposedly the jewels of this class, and if they’re that good, they’ll find time on the field. Nobody outside of Ogbonnia “Obo” Okoronkwo seems like a starter right now for the Sooners so that door is about as open as it gets for a true freshman. No new news regarding Bryce Youngquist. Not good, not bad, just nothing to report.

Inside linebacker

Signed: Jon-Michael Terry, Kapri Doucet

Impact: Depth, at least for this year. Doucet seemed like a reaction measure made by the Sooners when Dominique Alexander announced he was leaving for the NFL Draft. And that’s fine, but you still figure Jordan Evans and Tay Evans will be holding down the fort. Coaches have absolutely raved about the ability of Terry so you could be looking at the two backup middle linebackers when get into the heart of the season.


Signed: Jordan Parker, Parnell Motley

Impact: Minimal. For months, Parker was the highest-ranked commit for the Sooners for the class, but it seems like he’ll need at least a year of seasoning. He should play, but with Jordan Thomas, Dakota Austin, P.J. Mbanasor and an emerging Antoine Stephens, Parker and Motley will have to fight to bust through the lineup.


Signed: Chanse Sylvie

Impact: Maybe not at safety but as a nickelback, Sylvie seems to have a future. You’re not going to pass Steven Parker, Ahmad Thomas, Will Sunderland or Kahlil Haughton. Simply not going to happen, but Sylvie does appear to be that guy who could give Will Johnson a break at nickel if Johnson needs a breather or is not healthy.

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