A pair of Sooners featured in ESPN’s 100 best players in college football for the 2022 season.
Key departures to the NFL alongside both sides of the ball paired with select transfers meant Oklahoma dealt with plenty of roster turnover during Brent Venables’ first offseason in charge of the program.
Still, OU was ranked at No. 9 in both the preseason Coaches Poll and the preseason AP Poll, evidence that there is still plenty of talent on the Oklahoma roster headed into 2022.
Wide receiver Marvin Mims was the highest ranked Sooner on ESPN’s list, checking in at No. 64 in the rankings.
ESPN highlighted that Mims still finished fourth in the country with 22.0 yards per reception last year despite the fact that his targets were low throughout the season.
Mims caught five fewer passes (32) last year than his freshman campaign (37), only hauling in five touchdowns in 2021.
But Lebby’s high-octane offense is upping the tempo in Norman, which should lead to more offensive snaps and a larger role for Mims.
The goal of running more plays should give Mims and the rest of OU’s wide receiving core more chances to shine this year after an up-and-down season for Oklahoma’s entire offense in 2021.
Dillon Gabriel was the other Sooner to make the cut, as ESPN ranked the UCF transfer at No. 70-overall.
In 26 games for the Knights, Gabriel threw for 8,037 yards and 70 touchdowns while only throwing 14 interceptions.
The Hawaiian native is fully healed from the collar bone injury that saw his 2021 season come to a close, and he’s reunited with his old play caller in Lebby as he takes the step up from the Group of 5 level to the pressure cooker that is the job of starting quarterback at Oklahoma.
A trio of former Sooners also made an appearance in ESPN’s rankings.
Now-USC quarterback Caleb Williams was ranked as the 10th best player in college football after he took over OU’s offense midway through 2021.
The true freshman completed 64.5 percent of his passes, throwing for 1,912 yards, 21 touchdowns and four interceptions. Williams also ran for 442 yards and six touchdowns, and he’s now had an entire offseason as the starting quarterback to work under Lincoln Riley at USC.
Williams’ teammate wide receiver Mario Williams snuck in as the 100th player on the list after catching 35 passes for 380 yards and four touchdowns as a true freshman last year in Norman.
Another former OU quarterback in Spencer Rattler also made the cut.
The former 5-star recruit was rated as the 78th best player in the country while he also adjusts to a change of scenery.
Rattler lost his starting job to Caleb Williams after the Texas game last year, but he stayed on OU’s roster and eventually announced his transfer to South Carolina after the regular season came to a close.
Shane Beamer will hope to help Rattler get his career back on track, as the new Gamecock quarterback has still completed 70.1 percent of his career passing attempts, racking up 4,595 passing yards, 40 passing touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
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