NORMAN — Continuing our unit-by-unit look at the 2014 Oklahoma football team, here is a look at the Sooners’ linebackers entering Saturday’s spring game.
42; Dominique Alexander; So.; 6-2; 216
40; P.L. Lindley; Jr.; 6-2; 254
20; Frank Shannon; Jr.; 6-1; 229
26; Jordan Evans; So.; 6-3; 216
19; Eric Striker; Jr.; 6-0; 219
5; Devante Bond; Jr.; 6-1; 232
85; Geneo Grissom; Sr.; 6-4; 257
Linebacker analysis: It truly is incredible the difference one year can make. At this time in 2013, the entire OU football world wondered what the future of the linebacker position at Oklahoma would look like after the unit was sidelined for much of the 2012 season’s final stretch, when defensive coordinator Mike Stoops was experimenting with few — and often zero — linebackers against high-powered, spread offensive attacks.
Stoops kept three linebackers on the field for most of the 2013 season, and even after senior Corey Nelson’s season-ending injury in early October, the unit performed extremely well. Alexander stepped up as a true freshman and eventually earned Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year honors.
Striker became a bona fide superstar because of his impressive pass-rushing ability, which was critical in the Sooners’ victories over Notre Dame and Alabama. OU coaches have been working Striker at the nickelback spot this spring, so his position for 2014 remains relatively unclear at this point. If junior-college transfer Devante Bond — also a strong pass rusher — adapts to this level quickly, that could make Striker’s transition go smoother.
OU coaches have also been working senior defensive end Geneo Grissom as a standup outside linebacker this spring, a role Grissom said he’s enjoying.
“It’s every D-end’s dream to stand up on the outside so it’s been a lot of fun,” Grissom said this week. “Hopefully I can stay there. I’m working hard, trying to win the job and hopefully I can make that happen.”
We’ll certainly have a clearer idea of what the linebacker depth chart looks like after the spring game.
Here’s a full schedule for the “State of the Sooners” series:
Wednesday, 9 a.m..: Special teams
Wednesday, noon.: Defensive backs
Wednesday, 3 p.m.: Linebackers
Thursday, 9 a.m.: Defensive linemen
Thursday, noon: Offensive linemen
Thursday, 3 p.m.: Tight ends
Friday, 9 a.m.: Wide receivers
Friday, noon: Running backs
Friday, 3 p.m.: Quarterbacks