Football is a team sport, but we all know that all positions aren’t created equal. Some players and positions are more important than others. That’s just the way it is. Oklahoma football has always been resplendent with individual stars who command the headlines, but the Sooners’ historical success has been more about the sum of the parts being greater than the whole.
The 2022 edition of Oklahoma football with a coaching change and over 30 new additions to the roster courtesy of another top-10 recruiting class and 13 new faces by way of the player highway known as the transfer portal.
While all the changes and new faces have created quite a bit of uncertainty about the Sooners heading into the 2022 college football season, you don’t get that same sense from the players and coaches inside the OU football program. Brent Venables and his staff have done an excellent job of changing the culture and building greater trust and stronger relationships within the Sooner locker room and established a renewed sense of purpose and discipline within the program.
As one writer covering Oklahoma football put it earlier this spring:
“Brent Venables has come in and changed the mindset, identity and schemes of an OU football program that was in the midst of an identity crisis.”
Venables told reporters recently that no one’s expectations for Oklahoma football are greater than his own. And Sooner fans know full well that the standards and expectations around the OU football program have been and always will be extremely high.
It doesn’t always feel like it at the time, especially when you are regularly winning 10, 11 or 12 games every season, but the reality of the situation is that Oklahoma football has become somewhat static and stale and too predictable in recent seasons. Contrary to popular opinion, Lincoln Riley may have done the Sooners a favor by choosing to leave the program.
Venables has brought a new fire and energy and a genuine devotion to the programme. He had many opportunities to become a head coach before this one, but this was the place he really wanted to be, and when the opportunity presented itself, the former Sooner assistant under Bob Stoops was quick to pull the trigger.
It may take more than one season with a team he basically inherited, but Venables is putting the building blocks in place for an even better future for Oklahoma football. And don’t be surprised if this season’s Sooner team exceeds expectations and delivers another championship trophy or two to the wall of winners in the Barry Switzer Center.
Here are six Sooner players, in no particular order, who will be pivotal to Oklahoma’s success in the 2022 season: