Oklahoma Odds and Ends: Vol. III

Things have been relatively quiet in Norman, Oklahoma since the Alamo Bowl loss in December, and that’s probably a good thing. As evidenced by Nick Saban’s retirement and Kalen DeBoer’s arrival in Tuscaloosa, a program can change in the blink of an eye. But the Sooners are putting together both a productive and a quiet offseason and are setting themselves up for success in the 2024 season.

Transfer Portal News

The transfer portal closed since we last reviewed Oklahoma’s portal additions and subtractions and won’t reopen again until April 1st, barring a situation where a coach retires or is fired. So for now, Oklahoma’s roster is stable and won’t change until after spring practices. Here’s a look at how OU fared in the latest portal cycle:

Spencer Brown OT (6-6, 315): 3-star from Michigan State

Dezjhon Malone CB (6-2, 200): 3-star from San Diego State

Deion Burks WR (5-11, 195): 4-star from Purdue

Sam Franklin RB (5-10, 200): 3-star from UT-Martin

Bauer Sharp TE: (6-5, 245): 4-star from Southeastern Louisiana

Febechi Nwaiwu IOL (6-4, 316): 3-star from North Texas

Caiden Woullard Edge (6-5, 252): 4-star from Maryland

Michael Tarquin OT (6-5, 300): 3-star from USC

Jake Roberts TE (6-5, 248): 3-star from Baylor

Casey Thompson QB (6-1, 200): 3-star from Florida Atlantic

By no means does this class of transfers compare to the likes of Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Texas, or some other SEC teams. 247Sports has Oklahoma’s transfer class ranked 26th in the nation and 10th in the SEC. However, all of these additions address clear needs that the Sooners have.

With Walter Rouse, Andrew Raym, McKade Mettauer, and Tyler Guyton graduating or going to the NFL, and with Cayden Green transferring to Missouri, Oklahoma’s entire offensive line will be different next year. That’s not exactly a hope-inducing stat to hear considering the uptick in defensive line talent that the  Sooners will face in the SEC next year. However, Spencer Brown, Febechi Nwiawu, and Michael Tarquin could all end up starting next year, so their commitments were key for the Oklahoma offense.

Deion Burks will be an interesting receiver to watch in the spring. He likely profiles as a slot receiver and could be a candidate to replace an Oklahoma cult hero in Drake Stoops.

Casey Thompson might not seem like a flashy signing, but it’s clear that Brent Venables does not want to get stuck in a similar situation to when Davis Beville had to start in place of the injured Dillon Gabriel in 2022 and the offense couldn’t even function. Thompson is a legacy (his father, Charles, played quarterback for OU from 1986-1988) and is a sixth-year player with loads of experience. Expect him to slot in as the backup quarterback, and hopefully a mentor, to Jackson Arnold.

But perhaps the most intriguing players out of these transfers are the two tight ends, Bauer Sharp and Jake Roberts. The tight end position has been a bit of a black hole for the Sooners over the last few years, but both Sharp and Roberts should help to remedy that. Sharp logged 29 catches for 288 yards and three touchdowns along with 25 carries for 133 yards and five touchdowns. Roberts is a native of Norman who started for the last two years last season at Baylor and totaled 51 catches, 625 yards, and four scores. Both of them are solid players and I’m looking forward to seeing how they’re utilized in a revamped Sooner offense.

Zac Alley Named Co-Defensive Coordinator

Also of note, after Ted Roof was fired, Brent Venables named 30-year-old, Zac Alley as his new co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. Prior to being hired at Oklahoma, he was a defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Louisiana Monroe in 2021 and held the same positions at Jacksonville State from 2022-2023.

But Alley has worked with Venables in the past: he was a graduate assistant at Clemson under Venables from 2015-2018. Venables spoke very highly of Alley in a press conference and emphasized that he would bring a renewed toughness to the defensive unit.

Main Image: Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

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