With players such as Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Kyler Murray and explosive receiver Marquise Brown off to the NFL, the Oklahoma Sooners are looking for a new crop of stars to make another run at a Big 12 championship.
Fortunately for head coach Lincoln Riley, OU just landed one of the top recruiting classes in the country. In fact, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings for 2019, it’s the sixth-best haul of the cycle.
Some of those new recruits will have an opportunity to compete for playing time as soon as they get to campus. A certain graduate transfer is sure to make an immediate impact on the offense as well.
Here are the five members of the Sooners' 2019 class who deserve a particularly close eye this offseason.
Jeremiah Criddell, DB
Criddell has the type of measurables (6-1, 185) that OU is missing in its defensive backfield. He also has time starting in June to bulk up in the Sooners’ strength program.
Assuming Criddell buys in with playing safety over cornerback, he could make a move into the starting lineup by the middle of the season. If he stays at CB, that probably won’t happen in year one.
Finlay Felix, OL
The Sooners have two promising youngsters at guard in Tyrese Robinson and Marquis Hayes, but they’re lacking in the depth department. A transfer from Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College, Felix will have an opportunity to work his way into the starting lineup at guard beginning this spring. At worst, he currently looks like the first guy off the bench at the position come fall.
LaRon Stokes, Edge
OU never managed to fill the void last season created by pass rusher Ogbonnia Okoronkwo’s departure. True freshman Jalen Redmond showed flashes of brilliance, but a blood-clotting condition makes his availability a huge question mark. Ronnie Perkins, another rookie, did his best holding down the fort at outside linebacker, but he needs to have his hand in the dirt.
The Sooners recruited Stokes with the intention of getting him to contribute immediately. He will raise the level of competition at weak-side defensive end at minimum, which OU is sorely lacking.
Theo Wease/Jadon Haselwood, WR
OU has a talented triumvirate of receivers on the way in Wease, Haselwood, and Trejan Bridges. They’re stepping into a position group that is already loaded with targets such as CeeDee Lamb and Grant Calcaterra. Not many balls to go around, so it will require a serious effort on the part of the newcomers to see the field.
At least one should be able to pull it off, however. While Haselwood might be the betting favorite to do as the top high school WR in the nation in 2019, smarter money would be on Wease. The product of Texas powerhouse Allen High School has a bit more of the wiggle needed to make things happen on screens and quick-hitting routes. OU needs a wideout in that mold to replace some of what was lost with Marquise Brown’s departure for the NFL.
And don't forget about...
In case you haven’t heard, Jalen Hurts, the former SEC offensive player of the year, left the Alabama Crimson Tide in January to join up with the Sooners. It’s likely the biggest offseason acquisition any team in the country made this year.
Riley will need to tailor his offense slightly to make use of his new QB’s skill set. Once Hurts gets comfortable, though, the Sooners will benefit from his steady presence in the huddle.
— Written by Allen Kenney, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Kenney is founder and editor of BlatantHomerism.com and host of the Blatant Homerism Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @BlatantHomerism.