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Oklahoma Sooners Football Recruiting: Can Sooners pull off a late steal with Michael Thompson?

One of the top defensive linemen in the 2018 class is set to be in Norman this weekend for an official visit.

SB Nation Recruiting

After hosting a pair of intriguing prospects last weekend in Moro Ojomo and Tank Jenkins, the Oklahoma Sooners are set to have another important visitor in town this coming weekend.

Michael Thompson, the nation’s No. 2 DT prospect per the 247Composite rankings, is scheduled to be in Norman for an official visit this Friday. Oklahoma’s momentum has sort of been building over the past week or so for Thompson, who has long been considered a lean to the home-state Missouri Tigers. The fact that Oklahoma already has a 2018 St. Louis prospect — Ronnie Perkins — on campus at this point certainly isn’t hurting the cause for the Sooners. Perkins wasn’t quite able to convince Ayodele Adeoye to flip from the Longhorns, but he certainly seemed to come close at one point. Perhaps he can work his magic with another Missourian.

For Oklahoma fans who have longed for elite interior talent on the defensive line, Michael Thompson would certainly check that box. The big kid out of Parkway North High School is strong enough to cause serious disruption up the middle, but he’s also fast and agile enough to get into the backfield and make a big play once he’s there. In other words, the kid is pretty close to being the total package at defensive tackle. The likes of Alabama, Ohio State, Michigan, LSU and USC have all come calling during his recruiting process for a reason. The Army All-American is an incredible athlete for a kid of his size, and he demonstrates that on both sides of the ball.

However, Thompson is much more than just a physical specimen — he’s good enough in the technical elements (or at least close enough to it) to seriously challenge for playing time as a true freshman.

With the departure of Du’Vonta Lampkin and a lack of proven playmakers at defensive tackle, Oklahoma’s ability to potentially close the deal with Thompson could prove crucial to this program’s potential to field a defense worthy of praise down the line. Oklahoma has had trouble closing the deal with elite DT’s for years, and it often shows. OU’s had plenty of adequate players at that position but have lacked a big-time playmaker for quite some time. Lampkin looked like he could have been that guy. Unfortunately, that ship has sailed. Will Neville Gallimore finally come into his own in 2018? He certainly still has the potential, but I’ll believe it when I see it. It can definitely happen if he stays healthy.

Considering that Oklahoma is a surprise contender late in the game, it should feel like OU is playing with house money here. But now that the prospect of landing an elite DT talent has presented itself, doesn’t this feel kind of crucial? The fact that Moro Ojomo is also seriously considering the Sooners should ease minds a little bit, as he’s quite an intriguing prospect in his own right. But there’s a reason that Thompson is such a highly-regarded football player. He has the physical tools to develop into an All-America-calibur player on the defensive side and could be a real difference-maker in the not-so-distant future. Perhaps a comparison to former elite prospects and Sooner greats such as a Tommie Harris or a Gerald McCoy would be a bit over the top, but he would bring OU even closer to having a truly elite defensive class in 2018. The likes of Jalen Redmond, Ronnie Perkins, DaShaun White, Bookie Radley-Hiles and several others give fans some serious hope for the future, and Thompson would be right up there with those guys if he were to sign.

It’ll admittedly be somewhat difficult for Oklahoma to beat out a school from Thompson’s own backyard (STL is definitely Mizzou country), let alone one that has also been close with him for such a long time. However, the fact that he didn’t choose to sign with Mizzou in December definitely shows that a prediction of a commitment to the Tigers far from a slam dunk. His 247 Crystal Ball read 100% in favor of Mizzou until a couple of days ago, but the most recent prediction came in favor of Oklahoma (via Illinois writer Gus Ramos) on Tuesday. A late official visit, the Ronnie Perkins connection and some good ol’ recruiting momentum appear to be giving Oklahoma at least a shot to pull off one of the better late steals in recent memory.

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