Wilkerson makes it official

Junior defensive end Jimmy Wilkerson may be leaving for the NFL, but the Sooners' cupboard of defensive ends isn't bare in Norman. So where do the Sooners go from here?

Junior defensive end Jimmy Wilkerson informed Bob Stoops and the Sooner coaching staff today that he has decided to forgo his senior year enter the 2003 NFL draft.

Wilkerson hinted before the start of the season that if he had a good year that he would leave early for the pros. But after a disappointing year, most figured Wilkerson would come back and improve his draft stock with his senior year. Wilkerson's desire to go pro apparently is too strong and he decided today to enter the draft.

Wilkerson is currently projected as sixth round draft choice or a free agent. Wilkerson will now be invited to the combine and will work to improve his draft standing.

The junior from Omaha, Texas finished seventh on the team in tackles (46) and tied for first in sacks (6).

With Wilkerson leaving early, Jonathan Jackson and Dan Cody become the starting defensive ends. It will hurt to lose Wilkerson, but based on this years play, 'JJ' and Cody certainly played as well as Wilkerson and toward the end of the year, Cody was the Sooners' best defensive end. Plus, the Sooners love the potential of redshirt freshman Larry Birdine, who the Sooners came close to pulling out of redshirt many times last year. Zac Latimer is another athlete with tremendous potential. Latimer needs to put on 20 pounds and that is a concern among the Sooner coaching staff because he has a hard time putting on weight.

This should also help the Sooners defensive end recruiting and it is probably a good weekend to bring in Hasting, Texas defensive end Alonzo Dotson.

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