As Oklahoma Sooners head coach Lincoln Riley and his staff of assistants continue to stack tantalizing recruiting classes on top of one another, they're putting older players on notice: Seniority doesn't mean your job is safe.
Between new arrivals in the 2020 recruiting class and freshmen who redshirted last year, plenty of fresh faces will find themselves vying for playing time in the buildup to the coming season. In some cases, OU is actually counting on them to step in right away. (Take quarterback, for instance.) The competition should be particularly fierce on the defensive side of the ball, where coordinator Alex Grinch is hoping to take the Sooners up another notch in his second season with the program.
Here are five newcomers set to make a splash in Norman this year.
Spencer Rattler, QB
Rattler saw action in three games during his freshman season, including a brief appearance in the College Football Playoff semifinal versus LSU. After Jalen Hurts kept a seat warm for the all-star recruit while he redshirted in 2019, Rattler now looks like the odds-on favorite to take the first snap for the Sooners in the fall. If so, count on Lincoln Riley going back to his air-it-out roots on offense.
Perrion Winfrey, DL
A dearth of talent on the defensive line has hamstrung OU for years. Position coach Calvin Thibodeaux is starting to bring in more blue-chip prospects in every recruiting cycle. For 2020, Winfrey is the biggest prize, and the Sooners will need the junior college transfer to contribute right away.
Bryson Washington, DB
Ideally, defensive coordinator Alex Grinch can plug in a versatile nickelback as part of his base package. Washington combines the size (6-2, 196) and coverage skills to thrive in that role. As an early enrollee, he will have an opportunity in the spring to make his case for immediate playing time.
Stacey Wilkins, OL
The Sooners are bringing back four full-time starters from the '19 offensive line. R.J. Proctor's graduation creates an opening at left tackle in 2020, and after redshirting last year, Wilkins will compete for the job in the offseason with fifth-year senior Erik Swenson. Even if Swenson gets the starting nod at the beginning of the season, Wilkins' talent will eventually prove too great for OL coach Bill Bedenbaugh to ignore. Count on the redshirt freshman to take over the position sooner than later.
Marcus Major, RB
To call OU's backfield crowded would be an understatement. Three running backs who carried the ball at least 50 times last season return for 2020, and another, T.J. Pledger, was a highly touted recruit in the 2017 class. That logjam may not keep a talent like Major off the field. No other runner on the roster can match the speed of Major, who redshirted after playing three games last year.
— 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.