3 Sooners land on ESPN’s midseason All-True Freshman Team

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Jumping out to a 7-0 record in 2021 hasn’t been an easy task for the Oklahoma Sooners. Five of their wins have come in one-score games. They’ve won defensive battles (Nebraska and West Virginia), held on to win (Tulane), won a back and forth matchup with Kansas State, before winning in comeback fashion against Texas. Their win over TCU wasn’t their largest point differential, but it is the most convincing win on the Oklahoma Sooners resume through the first five games of 2021.

At times it’s taken a total team effort and has required several true freshmen to step up and contribute, possibly before anyone expected.

Just after the midway point of 2021, ESPN’s Tom Luginbill and Tom VanHarren selected their all-true freshman team for the first half of the season. Oklahoma had three players selected to the squad.

Let’s take a look at who makes the team.

Up Next: A possible Heisman contender?

Caleb Williams, QB

Caleb Williams has been the quarterback for the Oklahoma Sooners for just over six quarters. Since the Texas game, Williams has combined for eight total touchdowns, including five in his first start for Oklahoma against TCU.

Though it’s a limited sample size, it’s enough to put Williams over the top as he was selected to be the quarterback of the midseason true freshman team.

Here’s what the ESPN analysts had to say.

Williams makes the list after just two games, but what he did was enough for me. He can beat defenses with his arm or legs and has amazing leadership qualities. I see a big second half of football for Williams, as his dynamic skill set fits Lincoln Riley’s scheme better than Spencer Rattler‘s. – Luginbill

I agree that two games are enough to add Williams to the list. The fact that he was so poised against Texas, in a back-and-forth game, and led Oklahoma to a win was remarkable. He didn’t look like a true freshman against TCU, either. If these two games are indicative of the rest of the season, Williams should be among the leaders at the position for the second half. – VanHarren

It’s wild to think that Caleb Williams could thrust himself into Heisman contention, but if he continues this rate of production in a year where there isn’t a clear favorite, the Sooners starting quarterback could find himself in New York by the end of the year.

Up Next: A Playmaking Wide Receiver

Mario Williams, WR

Mario Williams dazzled in Oklahoma’s spring game and continued to make highlight catches in fall camp. It’s earned him opportunities in Oklahoma’s passing attack to display his playmaking ability.

Williams is third in receptions and targets with 24 catches on 29 targets for 219 yards and two touchdowns. He’s been primarily a bubble screen player for the Sooners, but he’s been effective with the ball in his hands after the catch.

Here’s what Luginbill had to say about Mario Williams stellar true freshman season.

Williams has lived up to my preseason selection and projection, and his intangibles have played the biggest role in his early success. He is third on the team in receptions and is an effective underneath weapon, thanks to excellent awareness as a route runner and quickness after the catch. – Luginbill

Williams average depth of target is last among Sooners wide receivers with at least 20 targets. He can get down the field to make plays, but the Sooners haven’t called on him to be that at this stage of his career.

With Michael Woods, Jadon Haselwood, and Marvin Mims showing out, Williams may not get as many opportunities as he did earlier in the year. But opposing teams shouldn’t take him lightly. He can make a game-changing play every time he has the ball in his hands.

Up Next: A standout linebacker

Danny Stutsman, LB

With the Oklahoma Sooners trio of Brian Asamoah, DaShaun White, and David Ugwoegbu patrolling the middle of the field at the linebacker position, it was hard to envision anyone else getting snaps at linebacker, let alone true freshman Danny Stutsman.

However, as Spring camp turned to fall, Stutsman kept pushing for and earned significant playing time in the Sooners’ linebacker rotation. And he hasn’t disappointed.

Stutsman has brought an energy with him to Norman that, combined with his athleticism, has allowed him to become an essential part of the defensive rotation.

The former three-star prospect has been a strong contributor for the Sooners despite an arm injury. Stutsman has shown strong instincts and good range in sideline-to-sideline production. He has 12 solo tackles on the year. – Luginbill

When the Oklahoma Sooners were without Danny Stutsman because of the arm injury he suffered against Western Carolina, the defense struggled to tackle. It’s still not great, but it was better against TCU. His presence helps the Sooners’ starting linebackers stay fresh and provides another physical presence in the middle of the field.

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