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OU football: Bookie Radley-Hiles adjusts to new-look Sooners' defense

NORMAN — Brendan “Bookie” Radley-Hiles was the centerpiece of Oklahoma’s 2018 defensive recruiting class.

A five-star prospect by Rivals.com, Radley-Hiles was expected to come in and immediately contribute in the secondary.

But after an uneven freshman season where Radley-Hiles played in 13 games — starting 11 — at nickel back, seeing his playing time dwindle by the end of the season, and a change at defensive coordinator, Radley-Hiles’ future is a bit uncertain.

New defensive coordinator Alex Grinch said several times this spring that size and speed were non-negotiables for him when it came to recruiting in the secondary. At just 5-foot-9, there’s a chance Radley-Hiles wouldn’t be recruited by the Sooners if he was in the class of 2020 instead of 2018.

But both Grinch and Lincoln Riley said Radley-Hiles has a chance to play a significant role for Oklahoma both in 2019 and moving forward.

“I think there’s a great place for him in this system at several different positions,” Riley said. “I do love the fact that in that meeting room is the coordinator. I think that makes a difference. Our secondary guys have noticed a change from that standpoint already.”

And Radley-Hiles said he likes Grinch’s defensive philosophies.

“The film that we watch from his previous stations, I fit right into his defense,” Radley-Hiles said. “I feel as if that nickel spot, I’m gonna keep going forward, keep working on my assignments and clean everything up.”

But to do that, Grinch said, Radley-Hiles needs to find the consistency that eluded him as a freshman.

“He’s certainly shown flashes to be an elite-level player,” Grinch said. “I think he also shows flashes of a guy who needs to become a more disciplined ball player. I can name 10 other guys or more who fall into that category.

“He’s a work in progress, but I think he has the ability to be a viable playmaker for us.”

Radley-Hiles said he learned plenty from his freshman season.

“Everything doesn’t just go your way,” Radley-Hiles said. “You have to have a little resistance to what your plan is.

“I’m going forward now. I’m not looking back.”

Despite his stature, Radley-Hiles rose to prominence in high school thanks to his play-making ability.

And this defense, Radley-Hiles said, gives him plenty of chances to showcase that talent.

“There are just plays to be made,” he said. “And somebody’s gotta make them. Somebody has to make the play, and it’s on you to be selfish enough to do that. In that nature, you’ve gotta be selfish. All of us are fighting for the ball. Nobody gets a solo tackle out there.”

Related Photos
<strong>Former five-star recruit Brendan Radley-Hiles started 11 games at nickel back as a freshman last season for Oklahoma. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]</strong>

Former five-star recruit Brendan Radley-Hiles started 11 games at nickel back as a freshman last season for Oklahoma. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-a42c8704c50e83ab616ba26b86484fa9.jpg" alt="Photo - Former five-star recruit Brendan Radley-Hiles started 11 games at nickel back as a freshman last season for Oklahoma. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman] " title=" Former five-star recruit Brendan Radley-Hiles started 11 games at nickel back as a freshman last season for Oklahoma. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Former five-star recruit Brendan Radley-Hiles started 11 games at nickel back as a freshman last season for Oklahoma. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-1d23bbc3555db9569a74c56317ca7575.jpg" alt="Photo - Radley-Hiles " title=" Radley-Hiles "><figcaption> Radley-Hiles </figcaption></figure>
Ryan Aber

Ryan Aber has worked for The Oklahoman since 2006, covering high schools, the Oklahoma City RedHawks, the Oklahoma City Barons and OU football recruiting. An Oklahoma City native, Aber graduated from Northeastern State. Before joining The... Read more ›

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