After initially planning to enter the NFL Draft, Oklahoma’s star linebacker is set to return for his fourth season with the Sooners next fall.
NORMAN — Oklahoma received its single biggest piece of offseason roster news Monday afternoon … with some help from former Sooners linebacker Brian Bosworth.
Indeed, linebacker Danny Stutsman is set to return to Norman in 2024.
Less than a week after he reportedly told OU of his decision to enter the NFL Draft, Stutsman reversed course Monday, announcing his plans to be back on the Sooners’ defense next fall.
The announcement came just after noon in a 1:05 video narrated by Bosworth. Included in the final frame were four words: “SEC, see you soon.”
“It’s time to add another chapter to the legacy of linebackers who wore that crimson and cream,” Bosworth said in the clip. “Now? It’s your turn, Danny Boy. Sooner nation, buckle up and enjoy the ride.”
Stutsman’s return for his final season of eligibility delivers a massive boost to the program and to Brent Venables’ defense ahead of the Sooners move to the SEC next fall. In the 6-foot-4, 236-pound defender, OU not only brings back one of its most productive defenders but a central emotional leader as the Sooners embark on a new era in a new conference.
After exploding for a Big 12-best 125 total tackles in 2022, Stutsman was a force for the Sooners again in his junior fall, finishing with 99 tackles that ranked second most among conference defenders. On Monday, Stutsman was named an AP third-team All-American, following the second-team honors he received from the Walter Camp Football Foundation last week.
Stutsman’s 2023 tackle count would have ranked fourth among SEC defenders this fall. He returns for his senior season ranked 25th on the Sooners’ all-time tackles list.
Stutsman’s statistical count dropped slightly in 2023, but never has his importance to the Sooners been more apparent than across OU’s turnaround to 10 wins this fall.
In October, Stutsman gained viral fame for the speech he delivered prior to the Sooners’ win over Texas. And the Sooners sorely missed his presence when an ankle injury pulled Stutsman from the second half of an Oct. 28 loss at Kansas and held him out of the Bedlam defeat to Oklahoma State seven days later
“There’s a real emotional lift that you get when he’s out there,” Venables said after Stutsman returned against West Virginia on Nov 11. “The toughness, and he loves to play, loves his teammates, loves to compete. I think he brings out the best in people when he’s out there.”
That’s the linebacker OU is getting back in 2024. The Sooners are also expected to return the sophomore linebacker trio of Kip Lewis, Kobie McKinzie and Jaren Kanak, leaving the Sooners well-stocked at the position next fall.
On one decision, the state of OU’s 2024 defense swung in the right direction Monday.