Oklahoma football: ESPN cites two Sooners as preseason true freshmen All-Americans

Adepoju Adebawore (34) runs drills during OU football practice in Norman, Okla., on Monday, Aug. 14, 2023.
Adepoju Adebawore (34) runs drills during OU football practice in Norman, Okla., on Monday, Aug. 14, 2023. /

Although it can and does happen, it is extremely difficult for a true freshman to come in and earn a starting job — let alone have an immediate impact — at a high-profile football factory like the Oklahoma football program.

Between the transfer portal, which offers an immediate roster infusion of experience in areas needing a quick fix, and inbred talent and experience from returning players, the odds are stacked against true freshmen competing for starting jobs and making a major contribution in Year 1.

Regardless of what year it is, however, a number of freshmen players around the country manage to find their way to the top of the depth chart at some point during the season. This speaks to quality of the talent coming out of the high school ranks in all parts of the country, and if you are a team fortunate enough to identify and land one or more of these high-potential prospects, it’s not unusual to see them competing hard to unseat incumbents on the depth chart.

ESPN analyst Tom Luginbill has examined the 2023 landscape to single out this year’s group of true freshmen who are likely to become playmakers for their respective teams this season and qualify, in his view, as Preseason Freshmen All-Americans.

Two Oklahoma players made Luginbill’s All-Freshmen list, and if you are a Sooner fan, you will be delighted to learn that they are both defensive players.

Luginbill cited the top freshmen at every position entering the 2023 season. Making the list from Oklahoma were defensive end Adepoju “P.J.” Adebawore and cornerback Jasiah Wagoner. Adebawore, a five-star recruit out of the Greater Kansas City area, was No. 20 on the ESPN 300 ranking of 2023 recruits nationally. Wagoner was the No. 3 player out of the state of Washington and ranked 246th on the ESPN 300.

This is what Luginbill had to say about Adebawore in an ESPN+ article posted on Sunday:

"“It’s no secret the Sooners need help along the defensive front, especially from a pressure standpoint. Adebawore, along with incoming transfer portal edge rusher Dasan McCullough, is just what the doctor ordered…“He’s a measurable, veritable coach’s dream.”"

About Wagoner, Luginbill writes:

"“Wagoner is part of an array of incoming 2023 prospects expected to contribute immediately, so help is on the way for the Sooner defense."