Oklahoma football head coach Lincoln Riley revealed Friday that Sooners defensive back Tre Norwood will miss the entire 2019 season after suffering a non-contact injury.
According to ESPN's Mark Schlabach (h/t Andrea Adelson of ESPN.com), Norwood suffered an injury to his knee during Monday's practice.
Norwood started all 14 games last season, amassing 58 tackles (38 solo), one sack, one interception and five pass breakups. His pick came during the Sooners' Big 12 championship win over the Texas Longhorns.
Per Adelson, the Sooners had big plans for the junior this season.
"Norwood is one of the most experienced and versatile players in the Oklahoma secondary, starting the last 19 games," Adelson wrote. "He worked at cornerback, safety and nickelback in the spring and was expected to be a key player in the revamped defense new coordinator Alex Grinch is installing."
Jason Kersey of The Athletic discussed what might be next for Oklahoma in the wake of Norwood's season-ending injury. Of note, sophomore Brendan Radley-Hiles is considered a "near-certainty" to start at nickelback.
Norwood was expected to start there this season, with Tre Brown and Parnell Motley operating as the outside corners.
Radley-Hiles had 39 tackles and five pass breakups last season. Kersey wrote that Radley-Hiles "struggled" to the point where he was pulled from his team's 59-56 win over West Virginia. Radley-Hiles started 11 games but did not do so for the Big 12 championship or Orange Bowl against Alabama.
However, Radley-Hiles seemed ready for a new chapter under first-year coordinator Grinch.
"The film that we watch from his previous stations, I fit right into his defense," Radley-Hiles said in May, per Ryan Aber of The Oklahoman. "I feel as if that nickel spot, I'm gonna keep going forward, keep working on my assignments and clean everything up."
Grinch also provided his take on Radley-Hiles.
"He's certainly shown flashes to be an elite-level player," he said. "I think he also shows flashes of a guy who needs to become a more disciplined ball player. I can name 10 other guys or more who fall into that category. He's a work in progress, but I think he has the ability to be a viable playmaker for us."
At the least, Radley-Hiles showcased enough potential in high school to be the fifth-best cornerback in the class of 2018, according to 247Sports' composite rankings.
As for Norwood, he'll still have two years of eligibility remaining if he takes a redshirt this season. However, a Sooners defense that must regroup after finishing 100th in Football Outsiders' defensive efficiency metric needs to find a way to improve without him in 2019.