With the 2018 college football season still months away we’ve entered the summer period of watch-lists. Every major award will release their preseason list of candidates, providing fodder for debate and discussion to carry us through the summer. However, the most important list for Oklahoma fans is the list of players that will have a significant impact on the course of the season.
Here are ten guys to keep an eye on this fall.
10. Austin Seibert – Handling all of Oklahoma’s punting and kickoff duties over the last two seasons, Seibert has been OU’s place-kicker since he arrived on campus. Standing just behind Michael Hunnicutt (450) and DeMarco Murray (390) Seibert is in reach of record for career points. Seibert currently has 361 career points as a Sooner.
9. Kenneth Murray – A starter at middle linebacker last season, Murray used the experience as a launching point for a great spring. Admittedly feeling lost at times, Murray was an 18-year old kid to become the first freshman to start at middle linebacker for the Sooners in three decades.
There was talk about moving Murray back to the outside, where he played in high school, but Oklahoma’s coaches made the decision to keep him in the middle. The expectation is that throwing him in the fire last season will pay huge dividends this fall.
8. Bobby Evans – Overshadowed by Orlando Brown, Evans now gets to step into the spotlight. A two-year starter at right tackle, Bobby Evans will slide over to the left side and fill the void left by Brown’s departure to the NFL.
7. Marquise Overton – An injury to Matt Romar unexpectedly put Marquise Overton in the starting lineup in 2017. Now he’ll enter the fall as a key factor for Oklahoma’s defensive success.
The Sooners will have more depth available to them at defensive tackle in 2018 which allows Overton to have the opportunity to play a true nose guard position in an attempt to be the disruptive force in the opponent’s backfield that Oklahoma missed for the majority of last season.
6. Grant Calcaterra – If there were any doubts that Calcaterra could fill the void left by Mark Andrews they should have been removed following Oklahoma’s spring game. Calcaterra had already drawn comparisons to Andrews when he played backup to the Baltimore Ravens’ newest tight end.
At 6-4/224, Calcaterra will be a key receiving target, particularly in the red zone.
5. Caleb Kelly – Moving to the inside, next to Kenneth Murray, Kelly is looking to use physical play to his advantage. More importantly, his move to the inside means that Oklahoma is getting solid play from Mark Jackson and Ryan Jones at the strongside backer position, which allowed the transition to happen.
4. Rodney Anderson – A non-starter early in 2017, Anderson emerged as Oklahoma’s best running back by mid-October. For the first time in his Sooner career he’ll start the season both confident and healthy. That’s a great combination for Oklahoma fans who are anxious to see Anderson get more touches in 2018.
3. Marquise Brown – Speed is a premium in college football, especially in the Big 12 where offenses and hit pay-dirt, on any given play, from anywhere on the field. Brown is that home run threat for the Sooners and every defense Oklahoma faces will struggle with his speed.
2. Brendan Radley-Hiles – There isn’t a player on the roster with greater potential for an immediate impact than Radley-Hiles. Praised by coaches and teammates through the spring, Oklahoma’s super freshman could be the biggest play-maker the Sooners have had in the defensive secondary since Roy Williams.
1. Kyler Murray – Now that baseball is on hold for Murray he can turn 100% of his focus to the football team. He won’t quite have the accuracy Oklahoma fans have enjoyed from Baker Mayfield the last three seasons, but the added dimension of his speed gives Lincoln Riley an offensive tool he’s never had before.
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