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. 26 – LB Jordan Evans (6-2, 233 pounds)
83 tackles, 5 TFL, 1 sacks, 1 INT
What happened last year: Evans finally had a full off-season to prepare to be the starter in the middle of the Oklahoma defense, and it certainly went well. Evans proved to be a playmaker all over the field. He was stout in run support and his history as a safety shined through in underneath coverage. There weren’t too many flaws in Evans’ game, and he became a stalwart on defense. He’ll serve as the backbone of the Oklahoma defense again this year but proved up to the task last year.
Level of importance for Sooners (1-10): 9. Here’s another one of the extremely important player on the Oklahoma defense. Evans has the speed and size to be the ultimate difference maker. He took a major step last year, his second on the field, and showed a much better penchant for decision-making. This could be – and needs to be – a big year for Evans. Dominique Alexander’s constant leadership is gone, and Evans will have to step into that role. His growth in the media room might not be the best predictor of his ability to lead, but it certainly doesn’t hurt his case. His on-the-field production needs to see a spike, too.
Best-case scenario for this season: Right now, Oklahoma will need Evans’ best season. There’s a lot of inexperience around him. The Sooners are replacing three other starting linebacker positions. Evans will have to balance out all of that inexperience early against Houston and Ohio State – no easy task. Evans’ biggest demand will be bringing along counterpart middle linebacker Tay Evans, who will be pushed to the limit early in the season. But enough of Oklahoma’s demands for Jordan Evans. His best season possible puts him over 100 tackles with a small handful of sacks and near double-digit tackles for loss. He’ll be counted on to do a lot and wear a lot of hats.