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Uncertainty Remains Among OU's Backfield, Linebackers

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Linebacker Tom Wort (center) will need to become one of the anchors of the Sooners' defense. Linebacker Tom Wort (center) will need to become one of the anchors of the Sooners' defense.

News9.com

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Sooners will begin the football season with a No. 1 ranking thanks in large part to its cast of returning starters. But question marks do still exist at running back and linebacker.

The Sooners have a total of six running backs competing for playing time, five of which were four-star recruits or better coming out of high school. The talent pool is so deep that the team remains unsure of who will handle the bulk of the carries.

"It's running back by committee right now," sophomore Brennan Clay said. "We're all out there vying for that job, for that No. 1 spot … We all do things well with the ball, and we'll see what happens from here."

True freshman Brandon Williams may possess the most pure talent, but he is not as strong in pass protection as he needs to be. Roy Finch saw the most action last year, but problems with ball security in the spring caused him to be dropped off the depth chart completely.

On the other side of the ball, the linebacker corps also is plagued by uncertainty. Tom Wort will need to fill the spot of Austin Box, while sophomore Corey Nelson will be forced into the starting lineup by an injury to leader Travis Lewis.

Luckily for the Sooners, Lewis' injury happened early enough that Nelson could receive more playing time in practice and be more prepared to begin the season as a starter.

"There's a lot of things that we need to work on," Nelson said. "The season's right around the corner and we have to stay focused and we have to stay hungry. We kind of lost sight of that, and so we have to have a big chip on our shoulder in order to stay hungry and stay humble."

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