Oklahoma football: Meet Sooner defensive newcomers for 2022

NORMAN, OK - APRIL 24: The Oklahoma Sooners defense gathers after their spring game at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on April 24, 2021 in Norman, Oklahoma. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
NORMAN, OK - APRIL 24: The Oklahoma Sooners defense gathers after their spring game at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on April 24, 2021 in Norman, Oklahoma. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images) /

The Oklahoma football 2022 recruiting class lost a couple of highly rated defensive players as a direct result of the coaching change, but there is plenty to like about the six defensive recruits who signed with the Sooners on Wednesday.

There will no doubt be additions to this list before next fall as recruiting continues for the 2022 class and through the transfer portal, but here is a closer look at the defensive newcomers who have already signed on to play at Oklahoma, plus another commit who is expected to sign later in the cycle:

DL Cedric Roberts

Roberts committed to Oklahoma in July this year after breaking off his commitment to Baylor. The 6-foot, 3-inch, 275-pound defensive lineman from Pflugerville, Texas, was the first recruit to verbally commit to the Sooners after the official announcement that Oklahoma would be leaving the Big 12 for the SEC. According to the 247Sports Player Composite, Roberts is the 83rd-ranked DL in the 2022 class. Based on an evaluation by former OU defensive coordinator Alex Grinch, who recruited Roberts, he plays with a great motor, fires off the ball quickly and sticks with plays until the ball carrier is on the ground.

DL Alton Tarber

The 6-foot, 1-inch, 305-pound Tarber was originally committed to Georgia Tech and was a late pickup in flipping to Oklahoma earlier this week. He was one of the first recruits to receive an OU offer from Brent Venables. Tarber is built much more in the mold of an SEC defensive lineman than the thinner and quicker defensive lineman preferred by former OU defensive coordinator Alex Grinch for his Speed-D style of defense. His recruitment comes at a good time because OU is losing several starting D-linemen.

LB Kobie McKenzie

McKenzie has the unusual distinction of being the first to commit to the Sooners’ 2022 recruiting class and one of the last to commit prior to early National Signing Day on Wednesday. The 6-foot, 2-incj, 245-pound linebacker from Lubbock, Texas, committed to Oklahoma on Jan. 15 of 2020, but decommitted and reopened his recruitment after learning that Lincoln Riley was leaving to take the head coach’s job at USC.

McKenzie ended up committing to Texas, a double slap if you’re an Oklahoma fan. When Brent Venables was named the new OU head coach, one of the first recruiting visits he made was to call on McKenzie. Apparently Venables had the right words and message for the four-star linebacker, rated the 13th best at his position in the 2022 class. McKenzie made a recruiting visit to Norman last weekend, and on Monday this week he flipped his commitment back to Oklahoma.

LB Kip Lewis

Lewis committed to Oklahoma on the same day as CB recruit Jayden Rowe (April 30, 2021). He is listed at 6-foot, 1-inch and 200 pounds and is ranked by 247Sports as the No. 26 linebacker in the class. The scouting report on Lewis is that he can cover sideline to sideline with ease and is a good open-field tackler who is comfortable playing in space. No one knows the linebacker position better than Sooner head coach Brent Venables, who played the position in college (at Kansas State) and has coached All-Americans at the position at both OU and Clemson.

DB Robert Spears-Jennings

Spear-Jennings committed to Oklahoma in July after a private workout with Alex Grinch and he was unwavering in reaffirming his commitment to the Sooners after Riley’s departure. He possesses everything the prior staff was looking for in defensive backs: good length, top-end speed and a nose for the football. 247Sports rates the Tulsa, Oklahoma, native as the No. 24 safety in the 2022 class and the 267th player overall.

CB Jayden Rowe

Rowe is another defensive recruit out of the Tulsa, Oklahoma, area. Rated a four-star cornerback prospect by 247Sports, Rowe also checks the boxes for length and agility on the back end of the defense. He is rated as the No. 39 cornerback prospect in the 2022 class and his stock and ranking has reportedly risen since he first committed to the Sooners in April this year.

CB Gentry Williams

Williams did not sign with Oklahoma this week, but remains firm in his OU commitment and said he will not sign until February National Signing Day. Rated as the No. 9 cornerback in the 2022 class, Williams is the highest ranked recruit in the state of Oklahoma and plays a position that has been a problem area for the Sooners in recent seasons.

Like three other OU recruits in this class, Williams is from Tulsa, Oklahoma. If he ultimately signs with Brent Venables and the Sooners, he will have an opportunity to play immediately. He reportedly has excellent ball skills and track speed. He won the Oklahoma Class 6A state championship in the 400-meter dash as a freshman. Williams would be a huge pickup for the Sooner secondary.