The Rufus Guide to the Sooners

We asked the former defensive star what he thought of the roster and he broke it down

As a follow up to our 10-part roster breakdown of the Oklahoma Sooners for TheFranchiseOK.com, we went to our experts to get their thoughts on the roster and some players they like. Today, former OU linebacker Rufus Alexander gives his thoughts

Expert: Rufus Alexander

Oklahoma career: 2002-2006 (Redshirt 2002)

Position: Linebacker

NFL: Drafted in the sixth round of the NFL draft by the Minnesota Vikings

Awards and notable accomplishments: All-American, two-time first-team All-Big 12 Conference team, one-time All-Big 12 Conference second team selection and 10th Sooner ever to lead the team in tackles in consecutive years (2005-2006)

His take on the roster: Quarterback

“It begins with Trevor Knight. With a healthy Knight you will see the offense flourish and do something special. The more interesting battle is the backup one. Will Justice Hansen beat out Cody Thomas? If the Baker (Mayfield) ruling is overturned he will be your backup hands down.”

Running back

“With the recent trouble with Joe Mixon, that takes one of the backs out of the mix with an already deep backfield. Personally I like (Keith) Ford, he’s a tough runner and he hits people that try to tackle him. If he holds on to the ball he will have a big year, because the competition at the running back position doesn’t leave much room for error. (Alex) Ross is a good back with top in speed. Sometimes he lacks the power in short yardage, which is one of the most important parts of being a college running back. The dark horse running back is Samje Perine who is an extremely powerful guy and will capitalize if the top two make any mistakes. (Dimitri) Flowers is a matchup nightmare who will be utilized in the pass game and will be a major contributor this year.”

Reciever

“It starts with (Sterling) Shepard but he will need help. I believe there is a ton of unproven talent on the team. (Durron) Neal has shown flashes, but I think the young freshman (Michiah) Quick is going to turn a few heads and be a bigger playmaker than Neal. I’m excited to see what (Blake) Bell has, he looks to have adjusted well. Can’t wait to see him in action.”

Offensive line

“What more can you say? These guys are big and strong. They remind me of the O-Line they had when Sam Bradford was there. It starts with Tyrus (Thompson) and (Daryl) Williams who will control the edges for the Sooners.”

Offensive newcomer/X-Factor

“Michiah Quick. I also think he will be a big part of the special teams.”

Defensive line

“(Charles) Tapper is going to be better this year than last year because he was so raw last year and he just learned to play the game of football. I am expecting big things from this Tapper. Geneo (Grissom) is a veteran that has the size and speed to be a superstar this year along with Tapper. The big key is (Jordan) Phillips. If he returns to form this D-line has a chance to be up there with one of Coach (Mike) Stoops’ best D-lines since the Tommy Harris, Dan Cody and Dusty (Dvoracek) days.”

Linebacker

“It starts and ends with (Dominique) Alexander and (Eric) Striker. Striker will demand a lot of attention after his performance last year. Alexander played as well as you can play for a true freshman. All he needs to do is take the next step and be more powerful at the point of attack and be better in pass coverage.”

Secondary

“(Zack) Sanchez is the corner that has to play better. He has big play ability but his eyes get him beat sometimes. Hopefully this year he is better technique wise and smarter as a player. He has all the tools to be a great cover corner and has the ball skills to come down with a lot of interceptions. (Julian) Wilson has been a jack of all trades guy that plays wherever Mike (Stoops) needs him. He’s a guy that gives Mike great flexibility in the secondary. You have new faces back there that Mike will coach the heck out of and they will be ready to play this year.

The D-line will help make up for a lot of their flaws because quarterbacks will not have long to throw the ball. Dakota Austin is fighting for the other corner spot opposite of Sanchez. The battles are not over and will be decided in two-a-days.”

Defensive newcomer/X-Factor

“(Hatari) Byrd has been the guy that Mike has been high on at times. I just hope he takes the next step.”

Special teams

“(Michael) Hunnicutt is the guy you think of when it comes to special teams because for a while there OU was bad at that position. He has been consistent and reliable, which is what you want from your kicker.

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