A week after signing day, the composition of Big 12 rosters is starting to come into focus for 2016.
Some programs used the Class of 2016 to address needs while questions about other positions are poised to linger into the spring and beyond. Now is the perfect time to take a closer look at each program in the Big 12 including the strength and weakness of each team post-signing day.
We continue the series with Oklahoma:
Biggest need heading into signing day: Linebacker
Oklahoma lost four senior linebackers who started games during their time in crimson and cream including Eric Striker, a two-time All-Big 12 first teamer, and Dominique Alexander, a 2015 All-Big 12 first-teamer and three-year starter. Frank Shannon and Devante Bond also spent time as starters before their careers came to a close. All is not lost for Oklahoma, however, with 2015 All-Big 12 second-team linebacker Jordan Evans set to return for his senior season.
How it was addressed: The Sooners hit the junior college ranks hard, signing Lackawanna (Pa.) College linebacking duo Kapri Doucet and Emmanuel Beal to help lessen the blow. Beal and Doucet could help replace the pass-rushing excellence of Striker and Bond, who provided one of the conference’s top pass-rushing duos during Oklahoma's playoff run.
Oklahoma capped a strong finish for the Class of 2016 with the signing day capture of ESPN 300 linebacker Caleb Kelly, who could be ready to help immediately. The No. 69 player in the ESPN 300 is a versatile linebacker who could play in multiple spots on the Sooners’ defense.
Position of strength: Defensive tackle
Led by breakout star Charles Walker, Oklahoma has talent and depth along its defensive interior. Walker earned second-team All-Big 12 honors after recording six sacks and 10 tackles for loss despite ending his sophomore season without a start. He could be even better with an expanded role in 2016.
Meanwhile, Matt Romar, Jordan Wade and Matt Dimon have started games in the defensive interior for the Sooners, giving Oklahoma quality, experienced depth alongside Walker’s potential star power. Add Marquise Overton, who played in eight games as a true freshman, and Oklahoma has plenty of options at defensive tackle.
Biggest remaining weakness: Backup quarterback
As crazy as it sounds, Oklahoma has concerns at the quarterback spot despite having a preseason Heisman favorite leading the offense. Baker Mayfield returns to spark Oklahoma’s attempt to make back-to-back College Football Playoff appearances but the depth chart is slim behind the 2015 Big 12 offensive player of the year.
Former Allstate Sugar Bowl MVP Trevor Knight calls Texas A&M home now while fellow backup quarterback Cody Thomas decided to pursue baseball, which makes early enrollee Austin Kendall the man of the hour. With an impressive spring, the ESPN 300 quarterback could end up as Oklahoma’s backup behind Mayfield unless something unforeseen happens before preseason camp begins.