One of the biggest questions heading into the offseason focused on a pair of standout defenders in 2023. Would Billy Bowman and Danny Stutsman return for the 2024 season, Oklahoma’s foray into the SEC?
According to a report from SoonerScoop.com’s Carey Murdoch, we have the answer to one of those questions. Junior linebacker Danny Stutsman will forego the remainder of his eligibility and declare for the NFL draft. According to sources, Stutsman informed Oklahoma head coach Brent Venables on Wednesday prior to making that decision.
There had been speculation that Oklahoma’s defensive leader could return for the 2024 season. Now we know the Sooners will be without one of the best linebackers in the game.
Over the last two years, Stutsman’s racked up 224 total tackles, 26.5 tackles for loss, six sacks, and three interceptions, two of which he returned for a touchdown. He became an important leader for the Sooners who saw significant jumps in nearly every defensive category, helping Oklahoma rebound from their 6-7 season in 2022 to 10-2 this year.
The Sooners missed Danny Stutsman in their losses to Kansas and Oklahoma State after the veteran linebacker was injured just before halftime against the Jayhawks.
The Sooners have a young and improving linebacker corps. Jaren Kanak started much of the season alongside Stutsman and was replaced by Kip Lewis late in the season. Kobie McKinzie earned his first significant playing time this year in his second with the Sooners. Venables and the Oklahoma coaching staff like what they have in freshmen linebackers Samuel Omosigho, Lewis Carter, and Phil Picciotti, but they played sparingly this season.
There’s a good chance we’ll get to see Oklahoma’s young linebackers play a lot against Arizona.
As the Oklahoma Sooners prepare to play Arizona in the Alamo Bowl, the question becomes, will Stutsman play, or will he opt out to begin getting ready for the pre-draft process?