Word had been spreading that Creed Humphrey was returning to the Oklahoma Sooners for another season, and official confirmation came last Friday via his Twitter page. This is excellent news for the Sooners. Humphrey is, in my opinion, the best center in college football and was snubbed for the Rimington Award this year. His return to the Sooners is a massive boon for the program, as they will be busting out a new starter (again) at quarterback in 2020, and a center is the QB’s best friend up front. Humphrey returning to the Sooners puts Oklahoma as favorites for the Joe Moore Award.

The Joe Moore Award is given annually to the best offensive line in college football. Oklahoma recently won the Joe Moore Award in 2018, with Humphrey, Bobby Evans, Cody Ford, Ben Powers, and Dru Samia paving the way for college football’s best offense and Heisman-winning quarterback Kyler Murray. In 2019, after replacing four of those five starters, the Sooners finished as a semi-finalist for the Joe Moore Award, which instead went to LSU. 

After finishing as a semi-finalist last year with Humphrey, why would his return spark a potential return of the prestigious Joe Moore Award to Norman? After losing an NFL-caliber player seemingly every season (4 of 5 to the 2019 NFL Draft), Oklahoma returns all five starting offensive linemen and has added incredible depth to compete. I daresay that this may be the most talented and deep offensive line the Sooners have had the last few years. Let’s take a look. 

First, the returning starters: redshirt senior LT Erik Swenson, redshirt junior LG Marquis Hayes, redshirt junior C Humphrey, redshirt junior Tyrese Robinson, and redshirt junior RT Adrian Ealy all return after starting multiple or every game in 2019. 

As you can see, there’s a ton of experience up at the top with the returning starters, as all three will have been working with OL coach Bill Bedenbaugh for four seasons now. Bedenbaugh is widely regarded as one of the best offensive line coaches in college football, if not outright the best. 

The players behind these starters are also incredibly talented. Redshirt freshman Stacey Wilkins is viewed as the future of the left tackle spot. People I’ve spoken to admit they won’t be surprised if he emerges as the starter over Swenson in the fall. Brey Walker and EJ Ndoma-Ogar, as well as Ivan McIver and David Swaby, are all talented depth pieces that the Sooners love.

The kicker is the offensive line recruits that Oklahoma will bring in from the 2020 recruiting cycle. Four 4-star offensive linemen all signed with the Sooners, and two of which are early enrolling. The offensive line is going to be incredibly deep and a massive strength for the Sooners going into the 2020 season.

With all of this talent returning and coming into the program, why is Humphrey’s return so important to bring back the Joe Moore Award? After all, it looks like Oklahoma could easily replace him. In the words of Lee Corso, not so fast, my friend.

Humphrey’s experience will be tremendously valuable to a team breaking in a new quarterback with no real experience. He will bring back over two seasons of starting experience to the Sooners offensive line with 26 starts since 2018. Humphrey has battled against the elite of the elite in college football, and he has been lockdown in pass protection and a bulldozer in the run game. He’s a smart vet, and he’s seen virtually everything a defense will throw at him. Centers are often the smartest guys on the team, and Creed Humphrey fits that bill. 

Humphrey was thought of as a first-round lock by many analysts and certain to not fall out of the first 50 picks of the 2020 NFL Draft. His shows why on tape. He was named the 2019 Big 12 co-Offensive Lineman of the Year and a Second Team All-American by the AP, the FWAA, Walter Camp and Sporting News voters.

Humphrey alone won’t win the Joe Moore Award for the Sooners, but his return puts Oklahoma squarely in the driver’s seat for the award. His elite level of play and returning experience on the nation’s best offense is only going to increase his NFL Draft stock and likely cement himself as a first-round lock. For now, however, Humphrey will stay in Norman and enjoy another season leading the charge for the Sooner offensive line.