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Oklahoma Sooners Spring Football Preview | Defensive Line

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There aren't a lot of story lines surrounding Oklahoma's defensive line, as spring ball is underway, but the one's that are there are pretty big. What OU's defensive coaches have to figure out, and what we'll have to wait until this fall to see, is how frequently they'll transition from a three to a four-man front and what personnel they'll use to do so? Beyond that, the next pressing issue is, who will replace Jordan Phillips as the man in the middle?

THE INTERRIOR

The Sooners can quickly switch from a three to a four-man front by either adding another guy in the inside or one to the outside. In seasons past they've had Geneo Grissom move up from a linebacker position. At 6-4/252, he had the size and athleticism to handle both responsibilities. There isn't a linebacker left on the Oklahoma with that type of size which leads to the assumption that the Sooners may just add another man in the middle instead.

# Name POS HT WT YR Home
58 Frazier, Chase DT 5-11 291 RSo. Grapevine, Texas (Grapevine HS)
Gallimore, Neville DT 6-3 303 Fr. St. Catherine's, Canada (Canada Prep Football Academy)
50 Garnett, Courtney DT 6-2 284 RFr. New Orleans, La. (Saint Augustine HS)
Overton, Marquise DT 6-1 300 Fr. Jenks, Okla. (Jenks HS)
92 Romar, Matthew DT 6-0 287 RSo. Port Arthur, Texas (Memorial HS)
59 Snowden, Kane DT 6-0 247 RJr. Oklahoma City, Okla. (Westmoore HS)
93 Wade, Jordan DT 6-4 314 RJr. Round Rock, Texas (Stony Point HS)
97 Walker, Charles DT 6-2 296 RSo. Garland, Texas (South Garland HS)

Regardless, OU has to find a person to replace Jordan Phillips at defensive tackle and junior to be Jordan Wade seems to be the most likely candidate to do just that. He's big at 6-4/314, which is imperative when considering a base in your 3-4 scheme, and he's experienced. Wade has started eight times and has made appearances in a total of eighteen games over the last two seasons.

Charles Walker doesn't quite have the size of Wade (6-2/296) but don't be surprised if you see him in there. He played in eight games last season, as a redshirt freshman, and would have made more appearances had it not been for an injury that kept him unavailable for five games.

Matthew Romar is another guy who will get a look in the middle. He played in all twelve regular season games last season, missing the Russell Athletic Bowl due to injury.

The final guy to keep an eye on is freshman Neville Gallimore who was a four-star recruit by Rivals and had over thirty offers. He's a guy that Oklahoma needs to be an impact player this spring and on into the fall.

THE OUTSIDE

Charles Tapper is the guy who will draw the most attention from opposing offenses. Heading into his senior season, the Baltimore native has 88 total tackles, 16.5 for loss, and 8.5 sacks. He is unquestionable THE MAN on Oklahoma's defensive line but the question is, who will line up opposite of him?

# Name POS HT WT YR Home
Campbell, Gabriel DE 6-6 260 Fr. Yazoo City, Miss. (Yazoo City HS)
90 Dimon, Matt DE 6-2 271 Jr. Katy, Texas (Katy HS)
80 Ijalana, Isaac DE 6-4 247 RSo. Mount Holly, N.J. (Pierce College)
Mann, Kenneth DE 6-4 240 Fr. Burleson, Texas (Burleson HS)
99 Orso, Dwayne DE 6-6 300 RFr. Birmingham, Ala. (Homewood HS)
84 Rodriguez, Dalton DE 6-6 236 So. Broken Arrow, Okla. (Tulsa)
91 Tapper, Charles DE 6-4 281 Sr. Baltimore, Md. (City College HS)
96 Tate, Mitch DE 6-4 252 RSr. Bartlesville, Okla. (Bartlesville HS)
87 Ward, D.J. DE 6-2 256 RSo. Moore, Okla. (Southmoore HS)

DJ Ward is my bet to make a strong push this spring. He's a local product from Moore, OK and played in six games last season as a redshirt freshman. Matt Domon is another guy that you can bank on being in the rotation. He's played in 20 games in the last two seasons and could have had more had he not missed a month in 2014 due to injury.

The guy to watch here is Isaac Ijalana. He came to OU last spring as a tight end and is transitioning to the defensive end position this fall.

Post Spring Projected Depth Chapr

DE - Charles Tapper | Matt Dimon

DT - Jordan Wade | Charles Walker/*Courtney Garnett

DE - D.J. Ward | Isaac Ijalana

*Courtney Garnett will miss spring ball due to a knee injury but will no doubt be a factor in the middle when healthy.