An Oklahoma Sooners offense that needs to replace quarterback Jalen Hurts and leading receiver CeeDee Lamb will also be without junior running back Kennedy Brooks for the 2020 season after the Mansfield product decided to opt out.
A consensus four-star prospect in the 2017 recruiting class, Brooks was ranked as the No. 16 running back in the country, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.
Brooks redshirted during his first year on campus, but broke out as a redshirt freshman, earning Freshman All-American honors from USA Today after finishing third nationally with 8.9 yards per carry.
An injury in early October cost Brooks the game against Kansas last season. Otherwise, Brooks started 10 of 13 games for the Sooners and gained 1,011 yards on the ground with six touchdowns. His 6.5 yards per carry led the Big 12.
With Brooks out for the 2020 season, Oklahoma will turn to less experienced players. Junior college transfer Rhamondre Stevenson was effective in a back-up role last season with 64 carries for 515 yards and six touchdowns, but he’s suspended for the first half of the season. Trey Sermon, the starter in 2018 who lost playing time last year before missing the final five games with an injury, became a graduate transfer and landed at Ohio State.
Now with less depth at the position, Oklahoma also needs to quickly develop unproven contributors — junior TJ Pledger was a highly-rated recruit, but he hasn’t received a large volume of carries yet as the team’s all-purpose back, Marcus Major only carried the ball a handful of times, and true freshmen running back Seth McGowan is talented by unproven.
So it’s an open question whether any of those players can replace the production of Brooks as one of the nation’s most consistent and most explosive running backs.