Byrd should make an immediate impact at safety. (Photo courtesy 247sports.com.)
Both of OU's departed safeties from last season—Tony Jefferson and Javon Harris—will be missed. Replacing these key defensive backs may seem daunting, but several talented players are ready to step up.
Granted, this is premature. But the front-runner at strong safety, due to his playing style, appears to be incoming freshman Hatari Byrd.
Byrd, a 4-star talent, received praise from Scout.com for his aggressiveness and hitting ability. The 6'2", 200-pound California native also possesses desirable size for safety.
Gabe Lynn, at 6'0", 199 pounds, was listed as Javon Harris' backup at strong safety last season. He may challenge Byrd for the starting role. Regardless, expect to see him be a fixture in the secondary given his veteran status.
At free safety, it's certainly possible another freshman, Ahmad Thomas, earns the starting spot. Thomas, at 6'0", 210 pounds, is also physically advantaged.
Although he's listed on SoonerSports.com as a linebacker, incoming freshman Dominique Alexander (6'2," 195 pounds) could enter into the discussion as well.
Other contenders may emerge at safety, but the picture is somewhat murky at this point.
Sophomore Eric Doughtie, at 197 pounds, is one of the few Sooners on the current roster big enough to be a suitable candidate for manning the safety spot.