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Every off-season in college football is filled with departures and arrivals. Roster turnover is par for the course. It’s just a matter of how much and at what level of significance each team participates in the roster retooling during the off-season.

Heading into 2022, the Oklahoma Sooners defense will be facing a major overhaul.

Nik Bonitto, Perrion Winfrey, Isaiah Thomas, Brian Asamoah, and Delarrin Turner-Yell have declared for the 2022 NFL draft. Safety Pat Fields announced that he’s headed to Stanford to pursue a Masters in Management Science and engineering.

That’s six defensive starters from a 2021 squad that saw more improvement this season.

It’s not unexpected, but it certainly poses some questions for new head coach Brent Venables and defensive coordinator Ted Roof.

On the brights side, the Sooners still have quite a few players that are on an upward trajectory. Woodi Washington and D.J. Graham are really good on the outside, despite some of the big plays Oregon was able to come up with in the Alamo Bowl. David Ugwoegbu is a playmaker that has room to improve. Jalen Redmond is a stud interior defensive lineman to build your front four around. And then there’s Key Lawrence, who was a revelation as the do everything defender, playing safety, corner, and slot corner and making plays for the Sooners defense.

The Alamo Bowl gave us a glimpse of the future, and the future is bright.

Marcus Stipling was living in the Oregon Ducks backfield. On the opposite side, Ethan Downs flashed and made plays. Billy Bowman who was up and down early in the season before ceding the starting slot corner job to Justin Broiles looked good against Oregon. Danny Stutsman and Shane Whitter are promising linebackers who have the athleticism and playmaking ability to be great players for Oklahoma in 2022 and in the future.

While it’s certainly startling to see more than half of your defenses starters exit at one time. At the same time, they have a lot of potential with their current group and guys like Kobie McKinzie on the way. And then there’s the new shiny head coach that will be a game changer on the defensive side of the field himself.

Every off-season, every team in college football experiences a certain amount of turnover and this year, the Oklahoma Sooners will face that challenge. The next nine months will be pivotal to figuring out what the Oklahoma Sooners defense will look like. Despite losing the star power, there’s a chance this team will still be good on that side of the ball.

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Oklahoma Sooners 2022 NFL draft Tracker