Oklahoma football: Numbers to know — S Delarrin Turner-Yell — No. 32

(Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
(Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images) /

No where has the Oklahoma football defense been more vulnerable the past couple of seasons than at the back end.

The Sooners ranked dead last (129 out of 129 FBS teams) a year ago in passing yards allowed. They were hardly much better in passing efficiency defense, with the 19th worst passing efficiency defense ranking (111 of 129).

To be fair, most of the responsibility for defending passes falls on the linebackers and the two cornerbacks, but as the last line of defense, the safeties don’t totally escape the blame game.

Robert Barnes, Brendan Radley-Hiles, Kahlil Haughton and Justin Broiles rotated in and out of the safety positions last season, a pretty clear sign that the Sooners struggled to find the right combination at the back end of the defensive secondary. Haughton is the only one not returning this season.

Defensive coordinator Alex Grinch indicated during the media availability period at last Monday’s practice that the two starters are fairly well set at safety heading into the 2019 season opener in a couple of weeks. And they are none of the names mentioned above.

A pair of sophomores have emerged as the two No. 1s on the depth chart, one of which is Delarrin Turner-Yell. He will be joined by fellow sophomore Patrick Fields. Between the two of them, they have played in a total of 13 games for the Sooners, none as a starter, and recorded 25 tackles.

The good news for Grinch and the Sooners is that Turner-Yell and Fields have established themselves as the starters at safety. The bad news, according to Grinch, is there hasn’t been a lot of competition to alter that. The latter factor could come back to bite the Sooners as the season progresses.

Turner-Yell missed the first six games last season with an injury, but played in seven of the final eight games. The former three-star recruit, per Rivals, made a quick impression on his teammates and the Sooner coaching staff when he arrived on campus in Norman a year ago. He is extremely physical and fast, two traits that fit perfectly into Grinch’s defensive plan.

Because of Turner-Yell’s aggressive nature, packed with speed, his teammates tagged him with the nickname “Trouble,” which is exactly what OU wants to see him become to opposing teams.

You’ll probably be able to identify him by the long name on the back of his jersey, but if not, jersey number 32 should stand out on the field and should be called a lot over the PA system this season when the Sooners are on defense.

Let’s just hope they aren’t on the field as much, and for as long, as they were last fall. Turner-Yell will have something to say about that.