When people think about the Baylor Bears, many think only of their explosive offensive attack. While that will be a major piece of their continued success in 2014, it will be the defense that will determine whether or not the Bears defend their first Big 12 title this fall. For that defense to rise to the challenge, Art Briles will be turning defensive end Shawn Oakman loose this season in what should be a breakout campaign.
As a sophomore last season, Oakman made an impact in opposing backfields on a regular basis, recording 33 tackles, including 12.5 tackles for loss but managed just 2.5 sacks. But with Baylor losing a pair of senior linemen off last season’s team, Oakman will be put into a more prominent role next season as a featured pass-rusher and has shown that he’s ready to take that role on with a dominant spring performance.
At 6-foot-9, 275 pounds, Oakman is a rare blend of size, speed, and athleticism to become one of the premier pass rushers in the Big 12 next season. The Baylor offense had all kinds of trouble containing Oakman during the spring session, with Briles admitting that “we cant’ block him” when talking with reporters about Oakman’s performance in the spring game.
And Oakman has plans to keep on being unblockable when the season gets started. With the strides that the Bears’ D has made over the offseason, they have the potential to be one of the strongest units in the conference next season. With Oakman on the verge of a major breakout campaign this fall, Baylor will continue to be a major player in the Big 12 title race in 2014.