Oklahoma is just under three weeks from the start of its 2022 season. More specifically, they’re three weeks from the beginning of a new era under first-year head coach Brent Venables.
This time last year many expected the Oklahoma Sooners to contend for a national title under then head coach Lincoln Riley. In a crazy calendar year so much has changed, but high expectations remain the same for Oklahoma Football.
They go into the season with a plethora of questions about the roster, Venables’ experience, their future, and many other things but the cupboard isn’t completely bare.
ESPN compiled a list of what they believe to be the top 100 players in college football for 2022. Oklahoma has two of those top 100 players; Marvin Mims and Dillon Gabriel.
Marvin Mims comes in at No. 64 and is clearly Oklahoma’s number one target in the passing game. ESPN had this to say about Mims:
Despite catching just 32 passes last year, Mims averaged 22.0 yards per reception (first in Big 12, fourth nationally), finishing with 705 yards and five touchdowns, down from 9 TD catches as a freshman. He has led Oklahoma in receiving yards both seasons he has been in Norman and could benefit from Jeff Lebby’s spin on the new OU offense. – ESPN Staff
Mims’s freshman season was the perfect tease of what he’s capable of in Norman. While the expected leap didn’t take place a crazy year for Oklahoma’s offense in 2021, it’s expected that under Lebby, Mims will exceed the performance of his freshman year.
One thing’s for certain: Mims will be fed opportunities in bunches. Lebby has never shied away from force-feeding his best playmakers and there’s no reason to believe that will start now. Sometimes being a great offensive mind is about not overthinking or complicating things, letting your great players be great.
The other Sooner to feature in the top 100 for 2022 is the new starting quarterback and the most integral part of this team’s entire success, transfer quarterback Dillon Gabriel. Gabriel ranks No. 70 in ESPN’s top 100.
After starting 25 of 26 games in his career at UCF, where he threw for 8,037 yards, 70 TDs to 14 INTs, Gabriel transferred to Oklahoma and will rejoin Jeff Lebby, his old offensive coordinator. Gabriel went down with an injury after just three games last year, but ranked second nationally in total offense (373.9 ypg) in 2020. – ESPN Staff
Gabriel, a transfer from UCF reunites with the man who helped make him a freshman All-American, Jeff Lebby. After seeing the numbers he put up as a freshman and what Lebby has done the last two years at Ole Miss with quarterback Matt Corral, optimism is valid.
Gabriel can make all the throws and has experience in this system. That experience should translate to meaningful results early in the 2022 season.
Gabriel has the talent, weapons, and support staff to be considered the Big 12’s best quarterback. Will he own that title by December? We’re about to find out.
More importantly, for the Sooners to reclaim the top spot in the Big 12, they’ll need their two best offensive players to play like it in 2022.
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