It’s August. The Sooners reported yesterday and began fall camp this MORNING. As such, we’re going at early candidates that could break out for the Sooners in 2018. Note – this list will not include true-freshman as we’ll have a separate post for them.
TE – Grant Calcaterra
To say Calcaterra impressed during the limited time he saw as a true-freshman would be a bit of an understatement. As the understudy to Mark Andrews last season, Calcaterra hauled in 10 receptions for 162 yards and 3 touchdowns in just five games. That alone should have both the coaching staff and Sooners fans eager to see what he can do as the featured tight-end in Lincoln Riley’s offense.
While this seems like a no-brainier pick, remember it took Mark Andrews until third season to really become the elite NFL prospect we now know him as. Why project him as a breakout candidate now? The list could go on and on, but the main reason — the departure of not only Mark Andrews but also Dimitri Flowers. Combined, those two accounted for 1422 yards or 28% of Oklahoma’s passing offense last season. Without an obvious heir apparent to Flowers, those looks over the middle likely fall to Calcaterra making him an obvious breakout candidate.
CB – Tre Brown
Oklahoma ranked 87th in passing yards allowed last season per game and 54th in rushing yards allowed per game. Fans tend to blame it on the a certain coach on staff. For all the nice plays Tre Norwood made filling in for Jordan Thomas, there wasn’t a convincing moment that he was running away with the job, especially when you re-watch the Rose Bowl. Enter Tre Brown, a speedy blue-chip corner that is twitchy enough to play in coverage and physical enough to play the run. We’ve only seen a few glimpses of Brown, but enough to be intrigued what he can do as a starter. If he can edge out Norwood for that second corner spot, it could bring more balance to a defensive unit that was getting gashed every which way last season.
DE – Kenneth Mann
A lot of attention on the weak-side end, Amani Bledsoe but for this pick we’re going with the unheralded redshirt junior, Kenneth Mann. Mann moves between being a strong-side DE to being a 3-tech DT, who also happened finish the season off better than Neville Gallimore. What stands out about Mann is that despite being the lightest defensive lineman, there never appeared to be a drop off in physicality compared to his 300-pound counterparts.
However, more importantly there is more opportunity for Mann this go around. No Obo. No DJ Ward. Caleb Kelly has moved inside to the WILL. This suggests that Mann sees more time on the edge, where is his ceiling is much higher at 264-pounds.
WR – Charleston Rambo
We’ve talked pretty thoroughly about the third receiver position heading into 2018 and while we believe that Mykel Jones is the likely starter week one, one name is still very intriguing — Charleston Rambo. Rambo, a 4-star prospect and 12th rated wide receiver in 2017 by Rivals, ended up taking a redshirt last season while his counterparts, CeeDee Lamb and Marquise Brown (also members of the 2017 class) combined for 1902 yards and 14 touchdowns. That should be more than enough motivation for the now redshirt-freshman wide receiver.
However motivation isn’t the only factor that makes Rambo a potential breakout candidate. Rambo is a much different animal than those also competing for that third spot. Jones, Basquine, and Crawford are all sub-six foot receivers; Rambo comes in at 6’1″. The former are guys that play well in “pockets” or gaps in coverage; the latter is a speedy deep threat that can take the lid off the defense.