Oklahoma mailbag: How many 2018 recruits will play this season?

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The growing trend for Oklahoma is to avoid redshirting players if possible. Physically, incoming freshmen are better ready to play because they’ve been involved in weight and conditioning programs since junior high.

Still, some of the 22 members in the Sooners’ 2018 recruiting will redshirt.

Michael Harris asks, how many of the new players will have a legit chance of starting or getting good amounts of playing time?

That number is hard to predict because health plays a major factor in those decisions. The Sooners redshirted 2017 4-star recruits Kennedy Brooks (running back) and Levi Draper (linebacker) because of shoulder injuries. In February 2017, the plan was for Draper to factor into the two-deep for sure, and Brooks would’ve had a chance.

But these days the Sooners seem to redshirt players as a matter of last resort. Du’Vonta Lampkin’s decision to enter the 2018 NFL Draft after his redshirt sophomore seasons shows you there’s no guarantee Oklahoma is going to get more than three seasons out of anyone.

DieHards took an early look at both offensive and defensive depth charts for this season and the  top five players who could make an immediate impact.

Defensively, I expect cornerback Starrland Baldwin to redshirt. That has nothing to do with talent. He’s coming off a knee injury he suffered early in his senior season in high school. He could be physically cleared by August, but if he’s not, expect a redshirt season from him.

It wouldn’t surprise me if linebackers Brian Asamoah and Nik Bonitto both redshirt. Both weigh less than 215 pounds and are currently undersized. They could benefit from some time in the weight room.

You have to think at least one of the defensive linemen will redshirt, and odds are that will be defensive tackle Jordan Kelly.

Offensively, quarterback Tanner Mordecai will redshirt unless there is an injury to Kyler Murray or Austin Kendall. I don’t think the Sooners ever want to be in a position where they’re playing quarterbacks who are one year removed from high school.

I expect two of the three offensive linemen to redshirt. Even though Tramonda Moore is a junior college transfer, it wouldn’t surprise me if he redshirted this season. If the plan is for him to play guard, the Sooners have more than enough depth at the two spots.

Offensive tackle Darrell Simpson seems more likely than 5-star recruit Brey Walker to spend a year with the scout team.

I would assume tight end/H-back Brayden Moore redshirts, but the depth at tight end could factor into the decision. Sophomore Grant Calcaterra is the lone returning tight end on the roster.

As far as the receivers go, it wouldn’t surprise me if none of them redshirt. Oklahoma rotates a lot of players. If they’re good enough to handle 10-15 snaps a game, they’ll get their chances.

It’ll also be interesting to see how the Sooners’ coaching staff uses special teams to develop players. Anyone other than offensive and defensive linemen has the athletic ability to help out on coverage and return units.

The plan at this point is always for more freshmen to play than redshirt. Of the 22 signees, at least 15 could see playing time.

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