Every year, there’s a player or two that few know, but end up being key contributors after having a breakout season. With a number of open competitions that will be taking place this year, several players will have the opportunity to have a breakout season and make a name for themselves.
Here are three players that could end being key contributors on the defensive side of the ball.
Frank Shannon- The linebacker play was basically non-existent last season. Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops has said multiple times this off-season that the linebackers will play a much bigger role this year. This will allow Shannon to see the field on the regular basis, as he’ll likely enter the season as a starter. Shannon appeared in 11 games last season, and started two. The red-shirt freshman finished the year with 38 tackles and two sacks. There were few bright spots in the front seven last year, but Shannon was the one youngster who showed a lot of promise. His play will be a big key next year.
Hatari Byrd- Spring practice hasn’t even started; yet, Byrd is expected to be a main contributor at safety. Byrd will be one of the favorites to win the spot left void by Tony Jefferson who declared for the NFL draft last month. There will be a lot of youth on the defensive side of the ball this season. Expect Byrd to be a main contributor.
Mike Onuoha- After appearing in four games last season, Onuoha will be one of the favorites to win the starting defensive end spot across from Chuka Ndulue. The Edmond native finished with four tackles on the season in a limited role. With his long frame at (6’3 285), he is one that the coaching staff has been raving about. His athleticism could vault him above the other contenders at the position.