Top 10 Defensive Players

Because of all of the injuries this year's Red/White Spring Game gave many the unique chance to not only take a look at next season's team, but the future value of the program. In this feature Michael Swisher re-caps his Top 10 defensive performances of the day.

As odd as it sounds when you consider the final score of the Red-White Spring Game was 69-40, defense ruled the day.

In the first quarter alone, there were three interceptions returned for touchdowns against Oklahoma's three top quarterbacks.

In all, six passes were picked off, six sacks were recorded and there were another five tackles for losses.

Whether they were on the first- or second-team unit, several defensive players had stellar days.

Following are the 10 who stood out the most:

1. Dominique Franks – Franks needed a breakthrough day at corner and you could say he had one with three interceptions, including one off Sam Bradford that was returned 57 yards for a TD on the third play of the day. He had 91 yards on INT returns overall and was in on a pair of tackles. Sure, a pick or two may have been the product of being in the right place at the right time….but there's something to be said for being in the right place at the right time. That knack may have secured him a starting spot.

2. Sam Proctor – He may very well deserve to be at the No. 1 spot. Starting at strong safety as incumbent Nic Harris was on the sidelines (as was Quinton Carter), Proctor made the most of his opportunity. He was second on the team with nine tackles, including one for a loss. He also broke up a pair of passes. But it wasn't so much his numbers as it was his ability to be around the ball. If there was a play being made on Saturday, it seemed like Proctor was right in the middle of it.

3. Frank Alexander – This young defensive end capped a great spring with a solid performance. He had a pair of tackles and a sack, but showed his true overall ability when dropping back into coverage on a zone blitz, picking off a pass and returning it 31 yards for a touchdown. Coaches have been raving about him. We saw why.

4. Jeremy Beal – Another young defensive end that gets you excited about the Sooners' depth at the position. Injuries to others landed him on the field late last season and he showed some promise. That carried into the spring and then into the spring game where he came through with an impressive eight tackles and a sack.

5. Brian Jackson – We liked the Sooner secondary at pretty much every position and Jackson is no exception at cornerback. Franks got the interceptions, but Jackson proved extremely stingy. He broke up two passes and added four tackles to cap what's been his best spring by far.

6. Gerald McCoy – The ever-improving defensive tackle is starting to come into his own. Picked up five tackles – and impressive number at his position – to anchor a vicious interior line.

7. Travis LewisRyan Reynolds and Keanan Clayton have been getting all the publicity, but weakside backer Lewis proved he can make his presence known with seven tackles. It will be interesting to see if he carries that momentum into the fall when Austin Box is healthy and R.J. Bryant comes on campus.

8. Lendy Holmes – Although he did drop an easy interception (and you used to be a receiver?!?), Holmes was a steady force at free safety with his team-high 10 tackles. The senior gave OU stability in a promising, but still inexperienced secondary.

9. Jamell Fleming – The backup DB no doubt gives the Sooners some quality depth at the position. He picked up an impressive eight tackles and broke up a pass.

10. Jonathan Nelson – Don't forget about him at cornerback either. He provided the day's longest play when he returned a Keith Nichol pass 81 yards for a touchdown. He also added three tackles and provided yet more reason to believe the secondary is going to be spectacular unit for the Sooners in 2008.

Sooners Illustrated Top Stories