Sooners are heading down their final stretch of spring ball which will be capped off by possibly the most anticipated Spring Game in recent years.
Today we’re talking true-freshman early enrollees and since there are only 8 of them, I think we’ll be able to talk about each without this post getting too long.
So, let’s start with the most notable…
Brendan Radley-Hiles: Let’s be real here for a moment. Oklahoma hasn’t landed a prospect with as much notoriety and with following as big as Bookie has in a very long time. Even Joe Mixon, as much as he was hyped up coming out of high school, didn’t come close to this level of popularity. Bookie however isn’t just all about show. On film, he show’s all the markings of a day one starter.
Shows great anticipation in off-coverage, which given reports the from coaches that he’ll be starting at the nickel, should bode well for Oklahoma’s defense.
However, when and if he ends up in man-coverage, Bookie shows some of the best footwork you’ll ever see for a guy coming out of high school.
While Bookie likely sees the field as a nickel week one, Cooks did mention he’s been taking reps at safety — likely due to the lack of depth there at the moment. Whether that means we see Bookie get a real look at one of the safety spots remains to be seen, however do not be surprised if it were to happen.
Biggest thing I’m looking for: How much does Mike Stoops let Bookie be Bookie? Like Mayfield, Bookie is passionate, likes to talk and show off a bit. Will that be toned down? Personally, I hope not as this secondary — and really the defense as a whole — could use a touch of swagger.
Jalen Redmond: I once mentioned that Jalen Redmond was Oklahoma’s greatest kept secret. I still stand by that. Redmond is a big, very athletic guy that had he started playing football as a freshman in high school, there is a good possibility he’d would have ended up a consensus 5-star prospect. Plays like this are proof:
Redmond promises to add physicality to a defense that was severely lacking it for the better part last season. If it weren’t for a the mental part of the game, Redmond would have a good shot at competing for a starting spot in the fall. That said, it wouldn’t be surprising if his physical ability more than made up for the initial learning curve and earned him a spot in the rotation.
Biggest thing I’m looking for: There is a learning curve for every athlete coming into to college, more so with Redmond only having played a couple seasons in high school. I’m looking for Redmond to not get caught up in the X’s and O’s just yet and simply react to the ball.
TJ Pledger: Before his senior season was set back due to injury, Pledger was one of the highest rated backs in all of 2018 — and even after a dip in the rankings, he ended up as a top-100 prospect anyways. Unlike Oklahoma’s seasoned core of running backs, Pledger doesn’t have the prototypical size you’d except — only listed at 5’9″. Don’t be fooled though, Pledger isn’t another Roy Finch type back, in fact he’s coming in about 20 lbs heavier than Finch did as freshman. Whereas Finch somewhat lived or died off his evasiveness, Pledger has the ability to both power through tacklers or make them miss.
Biggest thing I’m looking for: I think no one will disagree that Pledger will fit right in when the Oklahoma offense is in between the 20’s. What I want to see is what can Pledger in the red-zone and in particular near the goal line. I think he could be a sneaky good back there.
Ronnie Perkins: Oklahoma has lacked all-star talent along the defensive line for years now. Ronnie Perkins has a real chance to change that and in a hurry. Perkins, while only a true-freshman, he isn’t too far off from being physically ready from contributing on day one. Initially listed at 6’3″, 265-pounds, he’s already the biggest defensive-end listed on the spring roster.
Aside from his size, one thing that stands out about Perkins is his motor. Often times prospects like Perkins dominate so much at the high school level that they tend to get bored and occasionally just go through the motions. I didn’t see that with Perkins, which to me is just as big of an attribute as size, speed, or power.
Biggest thing I’m looking for: Oklahoma likely keeps the playbook simple, meaning this is mostly physical test Perkins. A couple things Perkins could clean up immediately is his pad level and hand technique. If Coach Thibs has improved those aspects of Perkins game, he should be an immediate play-maker.
Starrland Baldwin: Starrland Baldwin Jr. is still on his way back from an ACL injury he suffered in his senior season, he won’t be participating this weekend. He should be back or close to it by the fall.
Patrick Fields: Most any other year, Pat Fields would likely take a redshirt season to allow him to grow into his body a bit more. However, Oklahoma’s safety core is both dinged up and unproven leaving the window open for Fields to maybe see some extended reps this spring that could lead into a big fall.
The Oklahoma finished their 2018 class with a lot of highly-ranked prospects, which maybe buried Fields a bit in the minds of Sooners fans. However, Fields is a a smart, cerebral player with some underrated athleticism. So while he may be a little ways away physically, it wouldn’t be surprising if Fields turns a few heads come Saturday.
Biggest thing I’m looking for: With injuries mounting at safety, Fields should get prolonged time in on Saturday. Given his feel for the game and how long he’s been around the program, Fields should have a decent understanding of the schemes. I’m not looking for big plays here, just very sound play.
Miguel Edwards: Deerfield Beach has been producing some the nation’s top prospects over the past few years, Miguel Edwards looks to continue that tradition. Edwards is a fairly long DB with a nose for the football. Like Tre Norwood, he’s a bit on the lean side and so it’s likely going to be a red-shirt year for him.
Biggest thing I’m looking for: Prove me wrong. Admittedly, I wasn’t able to catch much of Edwards’ senior season film so my evaluation is based off his junior film. This weekend will be my first real look at him in over year, so my assessment
could should be pretty far off by now.
Jaquayln Crawford: With 1539 total yards and 23 total touchdowns over his senior season, Jaquayln Crawford is pretty exciting addition to this offense, and we shouldn’t have to wait long to see him on the field. With Mykel Jones not participating this spring due to a recent surgery and Nick Basquine still recovering from a Achilles tear, there isn’t much in the way for Jaquayln Crawford seeing big minutes in the spring. Had either Jones or Basquine been healthy, it stands to reason that Crawford would carve himself out a role in the slot given his speed and elusiveness in the slot.
Biggest thing I’m looking for: We saw how comfortable CeeDee Lamb looked in this offense as a week one starter. Ideally, Dennis Simmons has done the same for Crawford as he could be yet another big-time piece in this Lincoln Riley offense.