Who will step up for the Sooners in 2013?
The Oklahoma Sooners are a team in search of a new identity.
Head coach Bob Stoops and his coaching staff will be tasked with replacing seven starters on an underwhelming defense. And although the Sooners only lost three starters on offense, one of those players is the quarterback.
Unlike most years, a national championship may be out of reach. However, winning the Big 12 title is not too far-fetched of a goal.
Let’s take a look at the new guys who will either help or burden Oklahoma in 2013.
Weight: 215 lbs.
Player Replacing: Tress Way
Replacing Tress Way will be no easy task for Jed Barnett.
Way placed 22 of his 53 punts inside the opponents’ 20-yard line on his way to earning an All-Big 12 honorable mention. He’s currently the Sooners all-time leader in average yards per punt (44.0).
A former two-star recruit, Barnett redshirted during his freshman year at the University of California. He later transferred to Laney College, where he averaged 41.3 yards per punt on 65 attempts last season.
JUCO’s No. 2-ranked punter, Barnett will be expected to make up for the loss of Way.
Weight: 235 lbs.
Position: Left end
Player Replacing: David King
Michael Onuoha was a three-star recruit coming out of Santa Fe High School. He recorded 87 tackles, 18 tackles for a loss and 13 sacks during a stellar senior campaign.
Onuoha’s decision ultimately came down to Oklahoma and Big 12-rival Missouri. In the end, the Sooners won out.
The defensive end appeared in just four games in 2012, tallying four tackles. However, with Oklahoma losing several defensive starters, Onuoha’s role on the team should likely increase.
Head coach Bob Stoops has lofty expectations for the sophomore.
Although he is currently recovering from shoulder surgery in the spring, Onuoha can help bring some respectability back to the Sooners’ line once he returns.
Weight: 324 lbs.
Position: Right defensive tackle
Player Replacing: David King
Back in the day, Jordan Phillips could do it all.
A four-star recruit out of Circle High School in Kansas, Phillips recorded 68 tackles, 8.5 sacks, two fumble recoveries and an interception during his senior year. He also caught 17 passes for 400 yards and four touchdowns while rushing for another two. Phillips even posted an average of 36.9 yards per punt.
Not surprisingly, Phillips was a class 4A All-State selection and an Under Armour All-American.
As a redshirt freshman with the Sooners last season, he appeared in 11 games, tallying a total of 12 tackles. He recorded a career high of four tackles twice—against Kansas (10/20) and Iowa State (11/3).
Now with the position his for the taking, expect Phillips to only continue to improve.
Position: Right end
Player Replacing: R.J. Washington
A Hutchinson High product out of Kansas, Geneo Grissom dominated on the defensive side of the ball.
During his senior year, he recorded 76 tackles, 24 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks and a fumble recovery. Grissom earned AVCTL Defensive Player of the Year and AVCTL first team honors for his play.
In two seasons with Oklahoma, the four-star recruit has tallied nine tackles in 17 game appearances.
With more playing time, expect Grissom to make an immediate impact.
Weight: 230 lbs.
Position: Middle linebacker
Player Replacing: Tom Wort
Frank Shannon has the potential to evolve into a star on the Sooners’ defense.
The former four-star recruit appeared in 12 games as a freshman last year, starting in two. He totaled 40 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, two sacks and one fumble recovery.
With experience playing both safety and linebacker, Shannon gives Oklahoma a versatile defender.
It won’t be easy replacing the hard-hitting Tom Wort. However, if anyone is capable of doing so, it’s Shannon.
Weight: 198 lbs.
Player Replacing: Demontre Hurst
Cortez Johnson is one of the most exciting additions to the Oklahoma defense.
A former three-star recruit, the junior was originally recruited to Arizona by then-head coach Mike Stoops. Stoops is now the Sooners’ defensive coordinator.
Johnson appeared in eight games as a freshman. He started two games while recording 16 tackles.
A physical corner, Johnson should help out an Oklahoma secondary that gave up nearly 400 yards per game last year.
However, he’ll have to get his personal life in check first. According to Andrew Gilman of Fox Sports Southwest, Johnson is suspended for the Sooners’ opening game against Louisiana-Monroe for violating team rules.
Weight: 181 lbs.
Position: Strong safety
Player Replacing: Javon Harris
Quentin Hayes is another player with potential who needs an attitude adjustment.
After having bright spots on special teams in 2011, he made headlines in 2012 for all the wrong reasons. Hayes was suspended for the entire season after violating team rules.
A four-star recruit, the junior has seemed to get back in the good graces of head coach Bob Stoops.
When he’s on the field, Hayes makes a difference. His length and athleticism will be critical in stopping both the running and passing games.
With three years experience in the program, expect Hayes to make the transition into starting look seamless.
Weight: 191 lbs.
Player Replacing: Tony Jefferson
If you want speed, nickelback Julian Wilson is your guy.
A member of the Southmoore High 2010 state-champion track team, Wilson has a history of showing off his speed. He even ran a 10.2 100-meter dash in 2009.
After redshirting his freshman year with the Sooners, the former four-star recruit appeared in 24 games over the next two seasons. He recorded 31 tackles and two tackles for a loss in 2012 while being named to the Academic All-Big 12 First Team.
Wilson is not only fast and athletic, but he is also a smart player.
He should be a core player for Oklahoma’s defense in 2013.
Weight: 184 lbs.
Position: Wide receiver
Player Replacing: Justin Brown
Expectations were high for Trey Metoyer during his freshman season.
A five-star recruit, the Whitehouse High-product caught 108 passes for 1,540 yards and 23 touchdowns as a senior. He was ranked the No. 2 player in Texas and the No. 2 receiver in the season.
Unfortunately, Metoyer never really lived up to the hype during his inaugural season at Oklahoma.
Metoyer appeared in 11 games, starting four. However, he caught just 17 passes for 148 yards.
With a year of experience under his belt, Metoyer should finally live up to his potential. He should draw defenders and help open up opportunities for his teammates.
Weight: 202 lbs.
Player Replacing: Landry Jones
Trevor Knight is the surprise of the season for the Sooners thus far.
For much of the offseason, junior Blake Bell was thought to be a lock to take over for Landry Jones at quarterback. Bell, or the “Belldozer” as he is commonly referred to, rushed for 24 touchdowns over his first two seasons with Oklahoma.
On the other hand, Knight hasn’t had a single snap on the field.
But on August 22, head coach Bob Stoops named the redshirt freshman as his starting quarterback for 2013 via USA TODAY Sports’ Daniel Uthman.
As a senior at Reagan High, Knight threw for 27 touchdowns and 2,092 yards with just three interceptions. He also rushed for 943 yards and 15 touchdowns.
It’s that dual-threat ability that really makes the former four-star recruit stand out.