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 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.
|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.
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?
|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.