NORMAN — Not long ago, Travis Lewis was the up-and-comer of the linebacking corps.
Now, he’s surrounded by up-and-comers.
Of OU’s top seven linebackers, five will be sophomores or freshmen next season. None boast much experience.
Ronnell Lewis and Joe Ibiloye played in spurts last year. Jaydan Bird and Daniel Franklin were special teams players. And Tom Wort sat the whole season while recovering from ACL surgery.
But the young, inexperienced Sooners can still be strong at the position.
Just ask Travis Lewis.
"Working out with them, how strong and explosive they are, how fast they’ve developed, it’s amazing to see,” he said. "They’re going to be great players.
"They all could potentially be starters.”
Those young linebackers, expected to form the core of the Sooner defense in the coming years, will be on full display during Saturday’s Red-White Spring Game.
At most, only two will start alongside Travis Lewis next season; but all five will play meaningful roles.
Ronnell Lewis, who had a breakout — and bone-crushing — performance in the Sun Bowl, is the favorite to man the strong side. The 235-pound Dewar native claims the majority of OU’s biggest hits from last season and should bring more physicality to the Sooner front seven.
"Man, he’s strong. When he first got in here, he (benched) 315, like 10-12 times. The other ’backers, we’re doing 275,” Travis Lewis said. "He already has all the physical traits to make him a special player.