The two linebackers Oklahoma signed Wednesday, though — Norman North's Jordan Evans and Tulsa Washington's Dominique Alexander — are converted defensive backs who boast the size and toughness of traditional linebackers, plus the speed and pass-coverage skills necessary to defend spread offenses.
“We know we've got to come in and wreck shop because there's not many linebackers this year,” Evans said.
Mike Stoops said: “In this league, you have to be very athletic and very mobile. ... Having 'backers that can do all that is tough. The more athletic they are, the better opportunities they're going to have.”
Oklahoma also signed seven defensive linemen to bolster a unit ravaged by graduation. The vast majority of defensive ends and tackles OU relied upon last season were seniors.
The Sooners added three freshman defensive ends Wednesday, along with three freshman tackles, plus junior-college transfer Quincy Russell, a 6-foot-3, 311-pound tackle expected to arrive in the summer.
“We shrunk down a couple of our defensive linemen to be better equipped to play more of the speed game that we see,” Mike Stoops said.
Then there's the defensive backfield, which must replace departed starting safeties Javon Harris and Tony Jefferson, plus three-year starter Demontre Hurst at cornerback.
Senior cornerback Aaron Colvin, who considered entering this year's NFL Draft, returns as the secondary's leader and best player. Beyond Colvin, though, playing time appears ripe for the newcomers' taking.
Bob Stoops compared Tulsa East Central cornerback signee Stanvon Taylor to Colvin.
Three-star safety Ahmad Thomas is already enrolled at Oklahoma and will go through spring practices.
Then there's the duo from Central East High School in Fresno.
“Hatari is one of those guys and we expect him to play right away,” Bob Stoops said. “Really, we expect all these guys to be able to play.”
Byrd said to count on it.
“It'll be a true freshman group out there with all the guys we're bringing in,” Byrd said.