We continue our position breakdown for Oklahoma football heading into the 2020 season, turning to the defensive side of the ball and the guys upfront who make up the defensive line.
Nose guard is the biggest concern, where the Sooners lose Neville Gallimore, the third-round pick of the Dallas Cowboys, the 82nd player taken overall, in the 2020 NFL Draft. Marquise Overton and Dillon Faamatau, who also saw action at the position in backup roles, are also gone.
JUCO transfer Perrion Winfrey is slotted to move into the nose guard position this season. Winfrey was rated the No. 1 player coming out of the junior college ranks in 2020 by both 247Sports and ESPN. He’ll get the immediate chance to live up to those high laurels with the Sooners this season.
Perhaps the player with the highest ceiling among the returning Sooner defensive players is defensive end Ronnie Perkins. The problem is, Perkins still has up to five games remaining on a suspension that was imposed right before the Sooners appearance in the College Football Playoff last season for failing a drug test. Perkins was one of three OU players who were hit with the NCAA suspension.
Perkins led Oklahoma last season with 13.5 tackles for loss.
In Perkins’ absence, defensive coordinator Alex Grinch will likely move senior LaRon Stokes over to defensive end. That’s where he was in the CFP game against LSU after playing most of the 2019 season at the tackle position. Stokes started 10 games for the Sooners last season and was named Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year. Sophomore Marcus Stripling likely becomes the backup during the time Perkins is sidelined.
If Stokes starts the season at defensive end, sophomore Jalen Redmond becomes the likely starter at tackle. Redmond led the team in sacks a year ago, credited with 6.5. Another JUCO transfer, Josh Ellison, was signed as a defensive tackle in OU’s 2020 class.
Four-star, true-freshman tackle Reggie Grimes Jr., a top-100 prospect, could also see some playing time in the defensive front in 2020.