The Sooners are one-third of the way done with the regular season so Sooners Illustrated is going to look at a couple of things.
Through the first four games, who has been the second best player on defense for OU? The assumption being nobody would argue with Eric Striker being No. 1. We asked, you answered.
Bob Przybylo: This was a tough one, a really tough one. Said before the season you could mention about five or six guys as being that dude and you still can.
Zack Sanchez gives you the big play, same with Geneo Grissom. But what this defense needed was that force in the middle. OU has all the athleticism in the world, but you have to have that physical presence to make plays.
OU has that guy in defensive lineman Jordan Phillips. Nobody was quite sure what Phillips was going to do, coming back from back surgery.
He has been a beast through the first four games. Numbers never tell the story for a defensive tackle, but it’s not like his stats are bad. Phillips has 10 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, a sack and a memorable fumble recovery.
His back has been bothering him again, which is why this week is so crucial to him getting healthy. OU has other options at tackle, but none of them compare to what Phillips brings to the table.
Justin Hite: After Striker, there’s a large number of players who could qualify as Oklahoma’s best defensive player.
If you like big plays, why not Zack Sanchez or Quentin Hayes?
If you like constant disruption, Phillips makes for a great pick.
Adaptability and diversity is the key to a strong defense, which makes linebacker Geneo Grissom the most important defensive player for the Sooners.
Grissom makes plays all over the field. He drops into coverage and baits quarterbacks into Pick 6s. He rushes the passer and forces game-changing fumbles.
As of right now, he’s probably the best NFL prospect on the Sooners’ roster. It’s cliché, but his athleticism is off the charts, and he’s probably taken to the position change better than anyone ever anticipated.
Grissom is tied for fourth on the team in tackles and has one of the Sooners’ two defensive touchdowns.
His greatest trait is that he’s not flashy, though. Everybody sees Phillips, and interceptions don’t go unnoticed.
On a defense with just three seniors, Grissom, who has played three positions in his time at Oklahoma, is one of the leaders on the defense. Great defenses need great leadership, and Grissom provides that – although he’s not the only leader on the defense.
Grissom is special. He will be special for a long time.
Sooners Illustrated readers: It was a runaway winner here as well with Grissom. Position change has gone well for the senior, who accumulated 52 votes.