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 Jarvis Baxter (No. 1 on the roster) and working all the way down to Marquise Overton (No. 98) 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.
No. 10 – S Steven Parker (6-foot-1, 208 pounds)
60 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, 4 PBUs
What happened last year: The talent jump from Year 1 to Year 2 was significant for Parker, who went from a seemingly-out-of-place and over-matched freshman to one of the more dominant defensive backs in the Big 12 Conference. He was a constant for Oklahoma on the back end of its defense, and his ability to cover one-on-one – possibly thanks to his extensive work at nickel back – really helped re-form Oklahoma’s pass defense, allowing defensive coordinator Mike Stoops to unleash many different types of coverage. And let’s not forget about arguably the biggest defensive play of the season for the Sooners: When Parker’s fingertips saved a berth in the College Football Playoff in a victory against TCU. Parker became a great player as a sophomore, excelling in every phase
Level of importance for Sooners (1-10): 9. Parker is another player that is vital to the development of Oklahoma’s defense. The Sooners are replacing a lot on the first two levels and a long-time starter on the back end. Parker, a do-it-all defensive back, will likely be on the preseason All-Big 12 list. There’s a pretty good chance that he’ll be a first-teamer. With all that in mind, expectations couldn’t be higher for Parker. Some think he might make the jump to the NFL after his third season with the Sooners. If he makes even half of the amount of improvement during his second full off-season as he did in his first, there’s no denying that 2016 will be Parker’s last season.
Best-case scenario for this season: Let’s start with Parker’s first career interception. It would be odd for Parker to leave Oklahoma as one of its better defenders and be a mid-to-low round draft pick and never have an interception. In his position, though, it’s understandably difficult. Parker is asked to do a lot of things for the Sooners – cover one-on-one, play high and low zones, support the run and rush the passer. He hasn’t shown very many weaknesses over the last 12 games or so. If he can replicate his statistical numbers from last season, Parker will look at his third and final season at Oklahoma as one of his best. Oklahoma needs him to be a leader, one who can help speed up the transition from a secondary that could potentially lose three starters at the end of the upcoming season.