Before spring practice started, Sooners Illustrated asked the 17 questions for Oklahoma for 2017 spring football.
With spring ball officially in the books, it’s time to look back and see what was answered positive or negative and what still remains to be seen.
This three-day series will focus on offense, defense and then in generality.
Day two? Defense.
What will OU’s four-man front look like and how will it be used?
It’s going to be the base defense. Yes, OU wants to be multiple, but it was made crystal clear that a 4-3 front will be used as the primary. That front seems to be Ogbonnia Okoronkwo and D.J. Ward at defensive end with Matt Romar and Neville Gallimore at defensive tackle. And that’s not too bad of a front, a quartet OU fans can embrace.
Is Will Sunderland ready to emerge?
Yes. Unequivocally yes. The difference in Sunderland this year is huge from the mental standpoint. He’s always been physically gifted and absolutely nothing has changed there. But now he’s more studious and taking the time to figure out the defense every step of the way. He seems fired up. The coaches seem fired up. Big-time spring for Sunderland.
Is Ogbonnia Okoronkwo the leader of the defense?
Still lean toward yes, but nothing in spring says that’s the case. What wasn’t known at the time was that Okoronkwo would be missing spring practice, recovering from injury. So didn’t exactly get to see Obo’s leadership skills on display. But if you talk to the younger linebackers and to the coaches, all have raved about what Okoronkwo has done off the field.
Will Jordan Thomas, Steven Parker be the foundation of secondary?
Yes, but the depth is starting to be achieved as well. Parnell Motley was the unquestioned breakout star of the spring. Jordan Parker was solid until a stress fracture sidelined him. Sunderland has made the necessary strides. The group as a whole appears to be better, but it has to be Thomas and Steven Parker anchoring things.
How good can Caleb Kelly be?
No idea, but that’s a good thing for OU fans. Kelly is another guy who went through a dramatic transformation in terms of his physical appearance. He’s added a lot of muscle to go with his freakish athletic talent. Add it all up, and it’s a great thing for OU. Sophomore seems eager to lead on and off the field and will certainly be a force to reckon with.
Has Ricky DeBerry found a home? Does he have a home?
Might have to go with no on this one. DeBerry started the spring inside before moving back to outside a couple of weeks into things. He’s still fighting. He’s still competing, but he appears to be destined to be behind Kelly at that spot. He has been a good teammate his first two years, see how he responds following the spring.
Will the vocal alpha dog of defensive line please stand up?
OK, Matt Romar, you have stood up. Romar showed he could be the alpha dog and was considered the alpha dog by Gallimore and defensive line coach Calvin Thibodeaux. Romar was more vocal during the spring and understands what his role needs to be. OU has found its guy, now we’ll see how Romar handles the label.