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OU 17-for-2017: Is Ogbonnia Okoronkwo the leader of Sooners defense?

The OU 17-for-spring 2017 continues wondering if Obo can be the man for Sooners this year?

It’s about that time again. Expectations are high. Questions abound. Yep, it’s time for Oklahoma spring football.

The Sooners, coming off an 11-2 season where they won the Big 12 championship and the Sugar Bowl, will no doubt be expected to be in the national championship and playoff hunt once again.

The calendar turns to March. The page officially turns to 2017, and although things look rosy for OU, there are still plenty of unanswered questions going forward.

What are those? That’s where Sooners Illustrated comes in. We’ll take a look at one pressing question each day leading up to OU starting spring practice March 21. The spring game is April 8.

Sooners Illustrated’s 17 questions for spring 2017

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Is Ogbonnia Okoronkwo the leader of the defense?

Saw a lot of signs of this happening during the 2016 season, but is Okoronkwo ready for the label each and every step of the way?

No doubt the Okoronkwo who played for OU in 2016 was completely different from the one in 2014 and 2015. On and off the field, the man known as Obo is just a different guy, a mature guy.

He seems to want to be the type of person who carries that mantle of being the No. 1 guy, and it’s a big reason why leadership doesn’t seem to be as much of a concern this time around when you look at OU’s defense in 2017.

Okoronkwo was a difference maker for the Sooners. He was by far OU’s best pass rusher and his durability was something to behold, playing nearly more than 100 snaps in two games last year.

That’s on the field. But in getting a chance to really dig in with Okoronkwo about who he is as a person off the field now, that’s when you realize the light bulb has come on 100 percent. He’s doing everything right, and he’s helping the younger guys grow.

There’s still some learning for Obo to do as a senior, but a move to a 4-3 defensive front seems ideal for someone who can rush the passer as well as he can. Despite not participating in spring, he can still plant those seeds of leadership.

Okoronkwo won’t be a breakout star for the Sooners this season because he’s already a pretty big name, but his continued production and continued displayed signs of leadership is going to be vital for the Sooners in their chase for a return to the college football playoff.


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