NORMAN — I released my initial rankings of the top-10 Oklahoma football players March 26, and promised to update the list regularly.
Following the Sooners’ spring game Saturday, here is the updated list. Several of the players rose up on the list because of the uncertainty surrounding junior linebacker Frank Shannon, who might not return to the team after coach Bob Stoops said he is dealing with “personal issues.”
Shannon, the Sooners’ leading tackler in 2014, was ranked No. 4 on the March 26 list.
The players’ previous rankings are in parentheses.
1. Eric Striker, Jr., LB (2): Striker takes over the top spot after an impressive spring game showing, during which he recorded two sacks (and would’ve taken Trevor Knight’s head off if not for the blue jersey) demonstrating once again why he’s one of the nation’s elite pass rushers entering the 2014 season.
2. Sterling Shepard, Jr., WR (1): Shepard stood atop this list on March 26, but missed the spring game with a minor injury. The combination of his absence and Striker’s impressive performance caused me to flip the two juniors, but I still could’ve gone either way. Shepard is the offense’s best playmaker heading into 2014.
3. Charles Tapper, Jr., DE (3): The Baltimore native hadn’t played a ton of football before signing with Oklahoma, and is just now beginning to reach his extremely high ceiling. Expect big things from Tapper in 2014.
4. Daryl Williams, Sr., OT (5): Williams is the offensive line’s unquestioned leader, and could end up becoming one of the nation’s best offensive tackles by the end of 2014.
5. Trevor Knight, So., QB (6): The Sugar Bowl MVP didn’t have one of his best days at the spring game Saturday, but without Shepard, Blake Bell and three of his starting offensive linemen, it’s hard to hold that against him.
6. Zack Sanchez, So., CB (7): Sanchez wasn’t perfect last season, but he demonstrated an impressive ability to make plays and started all 13 games. He picked off passes in victories at Kansas State and against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.
7. Geneo Grissom, Sr., DE (8): One of the scarier moments for Oklahoma during Saturday’s spring game was when Grissom went down injured, but the knee injury turned out to be not so severe. After his monster Sugar Bowl, coaches have given Grissom an expanded role that includes standing up as a pass-rushing linebacker. The Hutchinson, Kan., native should be in line for a big senior season.
8. Dominique Alexander, So., LB (9): Alexander became a critically important part of the Sooner defense after Corey Nelson’s season-ending injury last October, and with Frank Shannon’s status uncertain entering 2014, he could be even more important moving forward.
9. Dimitri Flowers, Fr., FB/TE (NR): Yes, it was just a spring game. And yes, Flowers hasn’t played in a real collegiate game yet. But based on what we saw Saturday, OU coaches will use Flowers in their offense right away the same way they used Trey Millard. Flowers caught four passes for 40 yards Saturday, and Knight targeted him on his first three pass attempts.
10. Michael Hunnicutt, Sr., K (10): Hunnicutt remains on the list after drilling field goals of 52 and 47 yards in the spring game Saturday. He could be a first-team All-American before it’s all said and done in 2014.