On Jan. 3 of 2015, the Oklahoma Sooners received a commitment from a young Canadian who appeared more than cut out to be the dominant defensive lineman the program had been lacking for so long. It took longer than expected for that potential to be fully realized, but it happened during Neville Gallimore’s fifth season on campus.
The Ottawa native is one of the most athletic human beings of his size that a football scout could ever hope to come across, which obviously helped him gain the attention of plenty of college programs across the United States and separated him as the top high school football prospect in Canada. After receiving offers from the likes of Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Miami, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oregon and Penn State, Gallimore announced his intention to play for then-DL coach Jerry Montgomery and the Sooners.
After redshirting in 2015, Gallimore figured to receive some snaps at defensive end as a redshirt freshman. However, Oklahoma would end up taking plenty of hits to its depth up front, and the result was six mid-to-late-season starts. His debut against Houston also made him only the second Canadian ever to play for the Sooners, following in the footsteps of Josiah St. John in 2014.
Gallimore’s sophomore campaign — which included a move to defensive tackle — was expected to be one of the breakout variety, but that didn’t quite come to fruition. He did indeed start the season with plenty of promise before a combination of injury issues and the defense’s overall ineptitude derailed things to some extent.
As a junior in 2018, Gallimore was moved to nose guard. The season went a bit more smoothly than did the previous one, but Oklahoma’s defensive line continued to have trouble providing pressure in Mike Stoops’ scheme. He would finally catch a break in January of 2019, when the University of Oklahoma hired Ohio State co-DC Alex Grinch to implement his “Speed D” approach. This would entail two big things for the defensive line:
- An emphasis on slimming down the personnel, which would allow players like Gallimore to move a bit more quickly. He would end up going down to around 300 pounds in the spring of 2019.
- The change to a one-gap scheme, with an emphasis on getting around blockers and creating havoc in the backfield (as opposed to simply eating up blocks).
Both of these things benefitted Gallimore immensely, as it finally allowed him to fully utilize his athletic gifts. The end result was a First Team All-Big 12 nod and a considerable amount of NFL Draft hype.
As far as nicknames are concerned, “Big Canada” is pretty self-explanatory. However, if you happen to be a fan of his new team, we will also accept “The Canadian Bulldozer”.
Measuring 6’2” and weighing in at 304 lbs., Neville Gallimore wowed onlookers with a 40 time of 4.79, a 20-yard shuttle time of 5.01 and a three-cone time of 7.97. He also made sure to represent Ottawa and Canada while in Indianapolis.
NFL Network analyst Greg Zierlein slots Gallimore as a Day 2 pick, translating a selection in the second or third round. Most analysts and comprehensive mock drafts have him falling in this range, including WalterFootball’s Charlie Campbell and Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller. However, many believe Gallimore has a first-round ceiling, including SB Nation’s Stephen White.