The Oklahoma Sooners keep stacking the deck in hopes of contending for a national title in 2021. The Crimson and Cream landed its third transfer of the cycle in the form of former Tennessee defensive back, Key Lawrence. He joins the Sooners as the first defensive transfer of the incoming group.
Lawrence is a former top-100 prospect out of Nashville who played in all 10 games in 2020 as a defensive reserve and special teams contributor. He officially entered the NCAA transfer portal on Friday, January 22 according to GoVols247. Lawrence’s departure comes in the wake of the Vols firing head coach Jeremy Pruitt amid an investigation into alleged NCAA violations. The highest-rated prospect from Tennessee’s 2020 recruiting class, a group that finished inside the top-10 nationally, this is a huge addition for the Sooners.
The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Lawrence was, as previously mentioned, the crown jewel of his class. The versatile defensive back was ranked the No. 81 overall player, the number-six safety prospect and the number-one in-state recruit in the industry-generated 247Sports Composite Player Rankings for the 2020 class. Lawrence chose to play for his home-state program, committing to Tennessee in June 2019 over Miami, LSU, Oklahoma and others. Once he entered the transfer portal, the Sooners quickly went after the player they previously offered. Now that he’s made it official, Oklahoma adds to its secondary after some major losses.
The Sooners saw Tre Brown, arguably the leader of the defensive backfield, decide to pursue his dream of playing in the NFL. As he left the program, so did Tre Norwood. A player who led the team in interceptions and provided tons of versatility, Norwood’s presence was another key loss. With Lawrence coming in, though, he addresses several needs left in the aftermath of those exits. The Tennessee transfer can play several positions, brings division-one experience to the table and should rapidly establish himself as a leader in the locker room. Overall, Oklahoma’s defensive staff and the OU faithful are obviously thrilled about welcoming Lawrence to Norman.
As for Lawrence, he hopes to see a bit more stability at his new home. When he first aimed to play early-on for the Volunteers, he began as a cornerback in their secondary. However, as time went on, he was shifted to safety with the goal of utilizing him in dime package situations. Then, when Tennessee had several cornerbacks caught up in COVID-19 contact tracing, the Vols sent Lawrence back to cornerback with a numbers concern present. As the season progressed, Tennessee then moved Lawrence to its ‘Star’ position as that group faced serious struggles. Overall, he played in 10 games as a true freshman but had zero ‘starts’ on the season.
With Oklahoma bringing several starters back outside of Brown and Norwood, Lawrence should establish his role in the secondary early-on. Delarrin Turner-Yell and Pat Fields are back at safety, which means Lawrence will be a solid option to takeover at a cornerback or nickel spot. With another need addressed in the form of a big-name player, the Sooners hope this gets them one step closer to a potential national championship.