What a great season the Oklahoma Sooners had in 2008. They fell short of their ultimate goal, but overall it was a very good season for the program.
There are a lot of things we fans can look forward to heading into spring football and into the 2009 season—things such as national signing day and the NFL draft. Also, things like watching basketball, since Oklahoma looks to be having a good season in that sport too. However, I am writing about what we will see in 2009.
As of right now we are not 100 percent positive that Sam Bradford, Jermaine Gresham, Trent Williams, and Gerald McCoy are coming back for next season. However, from what I have read around the Internet world, I would be very surprised if all of them leave. In fact, I would be surprised if any of them leave early.
Sam Bradford has told receiver recruits that he will be throwing the ball to them next season.
It has been rumored that Jermaine Gresham has stated that he and Bradford will be back in 2009.
Gerald McCoy's mother, before she passed away, made it clear that she wants him to win a National Championship at OU and to finish his degree.
Trent Williams is not expected to be drafted very high, but may have been the best overall offensive lineman OU had this year.
We all know that Manuel Johnson, Juaquin Iglesias, and Quentin Chaney will all be gone due to graduation. We all know that Nic Harris and Lendy Holmes will also be gone due to graduation. Gone too are Duke Robinson, Branndon Braxton, Phil Loadholt, Brian Walker, and Jon Cooper—all senior offensive linemen.
However, what will next season's lineup look like? Who will fill the voids of four starting linemen leaving? Who will fill in at the wide receiver slots? What will the defensive secondary look like?
I will give it my best shot at telling you who I think will be in the starting lineup (as well as some others that will be vying for starting roles) when OU hosts BYU to start the season. Of course, this is including all underclassmen. Obviously if any underclassmen leave early, I will be incorrect.
Sam Bradford, the 2008 Heisman Trophy winner. Sam Bradford has broken almost all school passing records. Expect him to lead the team on offense in 2009. Backing up Bradford will be Landry Jones, a redshirt freshman from New Mexico and one of the top quarterbacks coming out of high school in 2007.
The running back position will only get more depth. Besides studs DeMarco Murray and Chris Brown, look for Mossis Madu, Jeremy Calhoun, and Justin Johnson to get more involved in 2009. Matt Clapp (fullback) will lead the way as a punishing blocker.
Jermaine Gresham is arguably the nation's best tight end. He brings great size and speed at the tight end spot. Look for 2009 to be even better with more time working on his strength and hands. Brody Eldridge will be his backup and will be in when running two and three tight end sets.
Oklahoma has just a couple of proven receivers returning in 2009. Ryan Broyles will most likely be the go-to guy for Bradford. However, he is not alone. Look for sophomore Jameel Owens, junior Brandon Caleb, senior Adron Tennell, and others to contribute. This will be the second biggest question mark for Oklahoma leading into the 2009 season.
Trent Williams will most likely be moved from right tackle to left tackle to protect Bradford's blind side. This overall unit will be the biggest question mark for the Sooners entering the 2009 season. However, they are not without experience.
Look for the left guard to be Brian Simmons, a starter of four games in his career at OU. Center should be Jason Hannan, but he will be pushed for the starting job by Ben Habern. The right side of the ball should be Jarvis Jones (transfer from LSU) at guard and Donald Stephenson at tackle.
Also look for Stephen Good, Jeff Vinson, Kody Cooke, Cory Brandon, and Alex Williams all to vie for starting and back up spots. Overall, in 2009 the O-line could be better and a lot more athletic than in 2008.
The defensive line in 2009 will be the most experienced unit on the team. They may also be the best overall defensive line entering 2009. All starters return for the Sooners.
Led by Gerald McCoy, this unit will rotate seven to nine guys. The starters will most likely be DE Jeremy Beal, NT Adrian Taylor, DT Gerald McCoy, and DE Auston English. Look for Frank Alexander, DeMarcus Granger, Pryce Macon, and others to play quite often in 2009.
2008 was very unkind for the linebacker corps at Oklahoma. However, they have gained valuable experience for 2009. Led by WLB Travis Lewis, this unit will be very intimidating for opposing offenses. They are fast and big.
Look for Austin Box and Ryan Reynolds to compete for the starting MLB position, while Keenan Clayton should be starting at SLB again in 2009. Incoming freshmen Tom Wort, Jaydan Bird, Ronnell Lewis, and Brandon Mahoney could also make contributions heading into the season.
In 2008 this unit was solid, but not great. They lose Nic Harris and Lendy Holmes, both safeties in 2008. However, the cornerbacks will be back. And if they improve from 2008, this will be yet another ball-hawking unit for the Sooner defense in 2009.
Boundary cornerback Brian Jackson and field cornerback Dominique Franks return. Look for Quinton Carter to take over at strong safety and Desmond Jackson to take over at free safety for Lendy Holmes.
Others that will be vying for a starting spot in 2009 include Joseph Ibiloye, Sam Proctor, and Cortney Carter. Incoming freshmen Gabe Lynn and Javon Harris could also make a push to get into the mix before the season starts.
In 2008 the special teams play was kind of lethargic to say the least. Look for redshirt freshman Tress Way and incumbent Jimmy Stevens to battle for kicking duties in 2009. Tress Way may also be the punter in 2009 if Oklahoma does not sign a punter this offseason.
Oklahoma's 2009 Schedule
(All dates and times to be determined)
TBD (should be a home game)
vs. Texas (in Dallas)
@ Texas Tech
Eight Bowl teams on schedule so far. One open date that still needs to be filled. Toughest games should be @ Miami, Texas in Dallas, @ Nebraska, and Oklahoma State.
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