Oklahoma is coming off another outstanding campaign, but it will have to replace several key pieces — especially on offense — if it wants to win its fifth straight Big 12 championship.
Here are the five players OU will miss the most in 2019:
Kyler Murray, quarterback
Let’s get the obvious out of the way. For the second season in a row, Oklahoma is tasked with replacing the Heisman Trophy winner. The Sooners have replaced Murray with Alabama’s Jalen Hurts, so things are already off to a good start. But Hurts will need to prove he can be an effective downfield passer if Oklahoma is to run the same offense that Murray did. That’s something he struggled with at times at Alabama, and it will be the No. 1 question all offseason long for the Sooners.
Marquise Brown, receiver
Oklahoma has plenty of help coming in at receiver, but none have the top-end speed that Brown used to torment Big 12 defenses the last two years. Brown’s wheels are likely to land him in the first round of April’s NFL draft. That sort of speed will be tough to replace, although Charleston Rambo looked fast enough during the second half of the Orange Bowl vs. Alabama.
Cody Ford, offensive lineman
Ford was Oklahoma’s best offensive lineman last season after entering the campaign as its biggest question mark. The Sooners used Ford at right tackle after he had spent most of his career on the interior. He excelled so much on the outside in both the passing and running game that he could be a first-round pick in the 2019 NFL draft. He is one of four starting offensive linemen the Sooners will have to replace this offseason.
Like Ford, replacing Powers will be a chore for Oklahoma O-line coach Bill Bedenbaugh. For the last two seasons, he has helped control the running game from the left guard position. He will also be tough to replace in pass protection and as a leader along the offensive line. How the Sooners replace Ford, Powers, Dru Samia and Bobby Evans could determine the ceiling for the 2019 Oklahoma offense.
Curtis Bolton, linebacker
Oklahoma loses just one starter on defense, but it’s the starting WILL linebacker and emotional leader in Bolton. Bolton seemed destined to be a career backup until he won the starting job from Caleb Kelly in fall camp and never looked back. He finished the season with 142 total tackles and 12 tackles for loss, both second on the team.
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