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. 21 – S Will Sunderland (6-foot-2, 197 pounds)
What happened last year: The first year on campus was one of growth for Sunderland, who looked far better at the end of the year than the beginning, when he appeared lost at times. As a freshman, Sunderland started to show a ton of potential that he will try and grow on in his second season.
Level of importance for Sooners (1-10): 5. Sunderland immediately steps into a back-up role at safety. He’ll likely be relied upon to serve behind Steven Parker, who might be one of the most important players on the Oklahoma defense. Should Parker go down, Sunderland would have to prove capable. He doesn’t need to be perfect, but if and when Parker comes out of the game – injury or fatigue – Sunderland needs to show little drop off. That’s important.
Best-case scenario for this season: It’s entire likely that Oklahoma will have to replace both of its safeties at year end. Sunderland came to Oklahoma with Kahlil Haughton and Prentice McKinney, a group that Sooners’ coach Bob Stoops said was the best safety class that he’d ever signed. It’s time to start living up to that potential. Sunderland needs to prove and show this season that he will be capable of starting next year – no blown assignments, minimal missed tackles and maybe even a shred of future leadership.