OU matches Baylor, TCU with five on Athlon's All-Big 12 First Team
Talent-for-talent, the Oklahoma Sooners should be contenders for the Big 12 title.
Nobody is picking OU to win it over last season's co-champs, Baylor and TCU, both of whom are expected to be the conference frontrunners again. But Oklahoma does share something in common with its two southern rivals: All three placed five players on Athlon's All-Big 12 First Team.
Running back Samaje Perine, who set the NCAA single-game rushing record last season, returns for his sophomore season and will be relied upon heavily as the Sooners transition to the Air Raid offense under new coordinator Lincoln Riley.
Also making Athlon's list: wide receiver Sterling Shepard, cornerback Zack Sanchez, linebacker Eric Striker and kick returner Alex Ross.
The list should excite Sooners fans. Sterling missed a good chunk of last season with an injury and should provide the new offense with a dependable, stretch-the-field target. Sanchez and Striker return with something to prove after a disappointing year for the defense as a whole, and Ross is a threat to take it to the house every time he hauls in a kick.
A year ago, the Sooners were riding high, expecting to dominate the Big 12 and earn a playoff berth. Now they'll enter the 2015 season well down the top 25 rankings and needing to get consistent quarterback play from whichever candidate wins the job.
But talent-for-talent, there's no reason why the Sooners shouldn't be in the Big 12 hunt.
(h/t Dallas Morning News)
Photo Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports