OU football: Beville wins backup QB spot, other takeaways from Sooners' depth chart

·5 min read

Aug. 29—With the season opener just a few days away, Oklahoma head coach Brent Venables released the Sooners' first depth chart Monday.

While the depth chart can certainly fluctuate, the depth chart helps bring some clarity to which players will start at certain positions heading into Week 1. The Sooners' opener against UTEP is set for 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

Here is the Sooners' full depth chart, along with a few takeaways regarding certain position groups:

1. Beville wins backup quarterback job

The Sooners named Dillon Gabriel as the starting quarterback months ago, so it was no surprise to see him stand alone at the top of the depth chart.

However, a lingering question through spring ball and the preseason surrounded the backup position. Per the depth chart, that spot belongs to Davis Beville.

The former Pittsburgh quarterback and four-star recruit transferred to the Sooners during the offseason and quickly made an impact. Since the beginning of fall camp, Beville has consistently received the second-string reps in quarterback drills behind Gabriel.

He doesn't have a significant amount of Division I experience, but he did appear in nine games at Pittsburgh. That was enough to help him win the job over General Booty, Nick Evers and Micah Bowens.

"We want to be able to call a play and have a really good idea what's going to happen before he snaps it. [Beville's] done that," OU offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby said Monday. "He's taken care of the football. As a unit, we talk about it all the time. That's where it starts and stops. We gotta take care of the rock and create good decision-making. He's done that. I think part of that is because he's played ball. He's an older guy, he gets it, he understands it, he's been through it. That's why it was so important to get him here. And he's done a great job."

2. Marcus Major leads OU running backs behind Eric Gray

Major has been discussed more than nearly any other OU player since the beginning of fall camp, and he's earned the backup running back spot behind Gray.

The redshirt junior has shown flashes during his three years in Norman — he has 298 career rushing yards on 60 attempts — but injuries and other issues have kept him from seeing the field consistently. Though Gray will likely see the bulk of the reps, Major should carve out a role as a change-of-pace runner and occasional pass catcher who could see more action if he's productive and is able to stay on the field.

Behind Major is sophomore transfer walk-on Tawee Walker and true freshman Jovantae Barnes.

3. Andrew Raym to start at center

One of the biggest position battles entering the preseason was at center between Raym and Robert Congel, as both players started a few games last season.

Raym missed much of spring ball and the start of fall camp with an injury but has shown enough to win the starting spot.

Along with Raym, the depth chart rounds out the remainder of the offensive line: McKade Mettauer at Left Guard, Anton Harrison at left tackle, Chris Murray at right guard and Wanya Morris at right tackle.

4. Cheetah position

Fifth-year senior DaShaun White, who made starts at the middle and weak side linebacker last season, gets the start at the new cheetah position. Justin Harrington will serve as White's backup. Harrington saw limited reps at safety and corner in 2021 before entering the transfer portal and returning to the Sooners.

The cheetah position, a staple in Venables' defense, blends together the nickel cornerback and linebacker positions. The position will be coached by defensive coordinator Ted Roof.

Roof said the position requires versatility and that those two players proved to possess that flexibility. White is listed at 6-foot, 222 pounds while Harrington is 6-foot-3, 215 pounds.

"It starts with the versatility [and having] the ability to play coverage and at the same time be physical enough to get in the box and be efficient in there," Roof said. "So a lot of versatility there. When you start looking at the the overall skill set and job description of that position, that's where it starts. So that's where we are. But DaShaun's had a great camp and has adjusted really well because he was playing well earlier in camp and we moved him to the cheetah position. But he still has the ability to play [will linebacker position] as well.

"With Justin, he's worked extremely hard, been extremely committed and approached this thing in the right way. He's had a good camp as well. So again, with the versatility of the skill set he has, that's what fits him."

5. Some shake ups at defensive back

Jaden Davis and Woodi Washington are listed as the starters at cornerback, with Davis beating out DJ Graham. Billy Bowman, who Venables lauded as the defensive player who had impressed the most during fall camp, gets the start at strong safety.

Key Lawrence and Justin Broiles are listed as co-starters at free safety, which isn't the only position with an "OR" designation on the defense. That includes defensive tackle (Jordan Kelley and Jalen Redmond are listed as co-starters) and nose tackle with Jeffrey Johnson and Isaiah Coe.

6. Zach Schmit officially Gabe Brkic's successor at kicker

It appears Schmit beat out Gavin Marshall and will be the Sooners' starting kicker against Utep. Michael Turk, the starting punter, is listed as the holder.

Billy Bowman, Marcus Major and Jalil Farooq are listed as co-starters at kick returner, while Marvin Mims, LV Bunkley-Shelton and Gray are listed as co-starters at punt returner.

Jesse Crittenden is the sports editor of The Transcript and covers OU athletics. Reach him at jesse@normantranscript.com or at 405-366-3580