The defensive line is and has been a major position of need with each Oklahoma recruiting class in recent years. With graduation looming after next season for seniors Matt Romar and D.J. Ward and after missing out on the nation’s elite prospects in 2017, Calvin Thibodeaux and the defensive staff are most certainly hot on the trail of many promising targets in 2018, with offers extended to multiple four- and five-star standouts vying for a chance at immediate playing time. Experience after next season will come from Du'Vonta Lampkin, Marquise Overton, Neville Gallimore and Amani Bledsoe (expected to return next season) along with a little-used Kenneth Mann and any underclassmen who may step up in 2017.
So as depth will be lacking, opportunities for early playing time will not. Here’s a look at some of OU’s top targets.
DT Trevor Trout, Chaminade (St. Louis, MO)
The nation’s top defensive tackle prospect Taron Vincent of powerhouse IMG Academy, (Bradenton, FL) doesn’t seem to have Oklahoma on his radar, with Florida State and Ohio State leading the way, so perhaps the Sooners’ staff shifts focus to the nation’s second-ranked tackle, according to Rivals, in Missouri product Trevor Trout. At 6-3, 295 pounds, Trout is quick, explosive and a true disruptor in his own right and currently has 10 pounds on the nation’s consensus prospect. Though the in-state Tigers are currently Trout’s top choice, the Sooners seem to have his attention following his offer in January and with the switch back to a 4-3 front, perhaps the efforts of a Thibodeaux and former/fellow St. Louis standout Durron Neal could possibly be enough to steal away Missouri’s top in-state prospect.
Honored to receive an offer from the University of Oklahoma! pic.twitter.com/V7UJfpLV7v— Trevor Trout® (@totaltroutmove) January 25, 2017
DT Calvin Avery, Bishop Dunne (Dallas, TX)
We covered Calvin Avery in Graham’s early look at the top national targets high on Oklahoma’s radar this spring, which was before OU’s second Junior Day last month. Following his third visit to Norman, the very large four-star nose tackle, adept at both the pass rush and run defense, seems to still be pretty high on the Sooners. It appears well within the realm of possibility Avery commits sometime this spring.
DL Bobby Brown, Lamar (Arlington, TX)
Oklahoma still tops the list for the 6-5, 270-pound, Bobby Brown over Arkansas and Texas A&M, according to 247Sports. The strongside edge rusher, ranked sixth at his position by Rivals, has the frame to add more beef to go along with his length and athleticism, and should develop into one of the most versatile prospects in this class. He likely best projects as an interior tackle and is still raw, but could be a high riser in the Texas and national ranks with a big senior year.
DT Keondre Coburn, Westfield (Houston, TX)
The Sooners are still in play to land the four-star Houston product Keondre Coburn, who was originally offered by Oklahoma back in April of last year. With the likes of TCU, Texas, Florida State and Texas A&M to contend with, landing the powerful interior lineman — ranked as the top defensive tackle in Texas by Scout — could be tough. But Coburn could be a landmark get on the defensive line for Thibodeaux and company and bolster the defensive line in a major way.
DL Dante Stills, Fairmont Senior (Fairmont, WV)
Another promising non-Texas prospect is Dante Stills, currently still with the Sooners on his interest list according to Scout. As the Mountaineers are naturally the current clubhouse leader for the 6-4, 265-pound tackle, according to 247Sports but with the Sooners in the picture, Stills could be a sleeper target to steal away from Dana Holgersen. Given a four-star composite rating by 247Sports, Oklahoma is still the top program to offer Stills so far, despite some interest shown from Ohio State.
DE Ron Tatum, Putnam City (Oklahoma City, OK)
Tatum, who I wrote about last month as among the state’s top prospects and a lead target for OU at strongside defensive end, recently told The Football Brainiacs his commitment announcement will likely be made next summer. Tatum still holds Oklahoma at the top of his list and could be a key building block for this class if he commits this spring.
DE/OLB Jalen Redmond, Midwest City (Oklahoma City, OK)
Also covered with Ron Tatum in the piece was Jalen Redmond, who has made two trips to Norman in the last four weeks to only solidify the thought that Oklahoma is clearly the school to beat for the four-star pass rusher from OKC. Redmond can be deployed as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme or as weak side defensive end in a 4-3 who could also very likely commit this spring or summer.
The Sooners have also offered three-star prospects Izaih Filikitonga from out of Trinity High School in Euless, Texas along with Tulsa Union’s Jordan Kelley. Though not as touted as the others on the list, both players show the talent and promise to develop into rotational players at a program like Oklahoma.