The Oklahoma Sooners landed their second straight top-10 recruiting class in 2018, a 22-man group with 13 blue-chip talents (rated four- or five-stars).
OU head coach Lincoln Riley clearly saw a need to lift the level of talent on a beleaguered defense that opponents routinely lit up last season. The Sooners loaded up with 13 signees on that side of the ball.
Ten members of the class are already on campus for spring football, a sign of how fiercely they will compete for playing time right off the bat. Here are the five newcomers to watch in the upcoming season.
Brendan Radley-Hiles, DB
Radley-Hiles kept Sooner Nation on edge until late in the recruiting cycle, announcing his commitment to Oklahoma at the U.S. Army All-American Game in early January. He didn’t waste any time getting to Norman, though. He enrolled early, which should put him squarely in the mix for playing time in OU’s secondary.
At the very least, the five-star cover man should raise the level of competition in the Sooners’ defensive backfield, a unit that struggled badly in 2017. If Radley-Hiles doesn’t win a starting spot at cornerback, expect secondary coach Kerry Cooks to work him in as part of OU’s nickel or dime defensive packages.
DaShaun White, ILB
OU’s coaching staff put a lot of eggs in White’s basket, making him the primary recruiting target at inside linebacker at the expense of landing other players at the position. The commitment to White paid off when he signed with the Sooners in February.
The faith in White’s skills better pay off. OU will probably need to have him ready to play immediately at a position that is sorely lacking in depth.
Tramonda Moore, OL
OU flirted with Moore coming out of high school in Oklahoma City, but academic issues forced the big offensive tackle to Independence (Kan.) Community College. Moore would probably have a shot at earning a starting role in the fall if he had made it to campus for spring ball. As it stands now, he looks more like a rotation player in an offensive line that was one of the best in the country last season.
Ronnie Perkins, DL
OU prioritized upgrading its front seven in this recruiting class. Perkins represents the cornerstone of that effort.
The blue-chip defensive lineman out of St. Louis has the size to play right away for a unit that is looking for a new strong-side defensive end. A couple months in the weight room could enable him to shift inside to defensive tackle if needed.
Jalen Redmond, EDGE
With OU loading up on edge rushers in recent classes, Redmond will face stiff competition for playing time this fall. Redmond might have the talent to overcome all those hurdles. If not this season, he appears primed to grow into a pass-rushing terror in the years to come.
— 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.