Oklahoma Football: Do the Sooners look to the Transfer Portal following Spring ball?

NORMAN, OK - OCTOBER 30: Tight end Austin Stogner #18 of the Oklahoma Sooners stands untouched with a nine-yard touchdown catch against the Texas Tech Red Raiders in the fourth quarter at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on October 30, 2021 in Norman, Oklahoma. Oklahoma won 52-21. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
NORMAN, OK - OCTOBER 30: Tight end Austin Stogner #18 of the Oklahoma Sooners stands untouched with a nine-yard touchdown catch against the Texas Tech Red Raiders in the fourth quarter at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on October 30, 2021 in Norman, Oklahoma. Oklahoma won 52-21. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images) /

The NCAA’s Spring transfer portal window officially opened on April 15th and will close again on April 30th. Do the Oklahoma Sooners need to capitalize on recruiting new players during this window’s timeframe? And if they do, which position(s) could be the focus of the Spring portal exploration?

As it sits right now, the Sooner’s football roster is solid. Last season’s linebacker depth issue has been corrected along with the defensive line depth. During the Winter transfer portal window, Coach Brent Venables actively pursued players at these two position groups to bolster depth and create efficiency. Dasan McCollough (Indiana), Rondell Bothroyd (Wake Forrest), Davon Sears (Texas State), and Trace Ford (OK State) were all brought in on the defensive side of the ball to shore up depth and, in the case of McCollough, start.

Following the Spring game on April 22nd, the Sooners may have to hit the transfer portal recruiting trail again for more depth. Here are the two most likely transfer portal target groups the Sooners could attack this Spring.

Tight End

The Sooners have already been active in bringing in transfer tight ends this offseason with the addition of Blake Smith from Texas A&M and the re-addition of Austin Stogner, back from South Carolina. However, this Spring has shown little depth in the tight end room and the need to re-examine transfer portal options.

Sooner tight ends Jason Llewellyn and Kaden Helms have been injured this Spring and will continue to sit out. Converted defensive tackle, Hayden Bray has shown exemplary effort and athleticism at the position this Spring as a fill-in. Walk-on Josh Fanuiel has gotten high praise from Austin Stogner, but can he be relied on to receive significant playing time next Fall?

Kaden Helms (18) Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Kaden Helms (18) Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports /

Jeff Lebby’s offense utilizes the tight ends with a high frequency (44 receptions for 547 yards and 7 touchdowns by tight ends in 2022). The second leading receiver on the 2022 Oklahoma Football team was a tight end, Brayden Willis. This is a position that could use a lot more reliable depth. Injuries are the cost of doing business; we understand that; however, if the tight end position looks this way come Fall, the Sooner’s offense may struggle, especially if no WR1 clearly emerges.

The Sooners may keep their eyes open for a big-name transfer portal tight-end target following the Spring game; you should too.

Wide Receiver

The Sooner’s wide receivers have had a productive Spring. Returning receivers Drake Stoops, Jalil Farooq, and Gavin Freeman have led productive careers in Norman. Will any of these three step-up and fill the WR1 spot vacated by Marvin Mims?

The Stoops, Freeman, and Farooq threesome combined for 79 receptions / 905 yards / 8 touchdowns in 2022. Marvin Mims (WR1) had 54 receptions for 1,083 yards and 6 touchdowns by himself last year. In fact, the two leading receivers in catches, yards, and touchdowns (Mims and Willis) from last year’s team are gone, so who picks up the slack?

Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports /

Incoming speedsters Jacquaize Pettaway and Jayon Brown bring a load of potential to the receiver’s core and a ton of speed. They will arrive in Norman in the Summer.

Converted defensive back D.J. Graham has some of the best hands on the team, according to multiple reports from Spring practices. And sophomore receiver Jayden Gibson also brings an elite athletic build and size to the receiver position. Other potential receivers who could see significant playing time in the Fall include LV Bunkley-Shelton, Nic Anderson, JJ Hester, and recent portal addition Andrel Anthony (Michigan). Are any of these receivers going to step up and claim the WR1 position vacated by future NFL receiver and Sooner great Marvin Mims?

With the recent portal addition of Texas receiver and former composite 4-star receiver Brenen Thompson, the receiver room may see another new face. Multiple other receivers will enter the portal following their respective teams’ Spring conclusions; I would not be shocked to see the Sooners bring in another receiver as a depth piece following the Red-White game.

The wide receivers have had a great Spring. However, if the Sooners want to compete for a Big 12 title, they will need to see high-level production from at least three of these receivers, more if the tight end room stays as shallow as it is.

Saying Goodbye

Just as the Sooners bring in talent, talent can also leave. It is common to see players transfer these days when they haven’t named the starter at their position. It isn’t a question of loyalty per se; it’s just that these players want to maximize their game tape in college to try and make the NFL. I can’t say I blame them entirely… it’s more of the system’s fault. There could be Sooners who find themselves entering the portal on April 23rd to try their luck at another opportunity, and if they do, we wish them all the best. But look for the Sooners coaching staff to move on from the departures quickly to replace the depth issue created by the departures. Many players aren’t expected to leave, but you never know.

Another Note

Georgia stud defensive lineman Bear Alexander entered the portal yesterday, this would be a HUGE addition for the Sooner defensive line. I would be shocked if the Sooner’s coaching staff didn’t pursue Alexander heavily.

Reports out of Norman this Spring have been positive and encouraging. Injuries have been present on the offensive line and in the tight end position, but these are a cost of doing business. 95 percent of the roster on April 22nd will still be present come Arkansas State next September. However, part of the coaching staff’s job is to think three steps ahead. I would be looking for new portal additions to arrive in Norman following the Spring game, and these names may be impactful Sooners in the fall.