Sooner Intel: OU's defensive class?

Intel returns with a best guesstimate look at OU's defensive class for 2017.

High school football is about to kick off across the nation so don’t be surprised to see a little bit of a lull with recruiting.

And if you’re Oklahoma with 14 commits in the Scout 300 and ranked No. 3 overall, that’s OK. With that in mind, Sooners Illustrated is going to take a crack at a best guesstimate of how the rest of this class is going to go down.

Defensive end

Commit: Isaiah Thomas

In the running: K’Lavon Chaisson, Taquon Graham, Ondario Robinson, Joshua Paschal, Elijah Conliffe, K’Jakyre Daley

Boneman’s Breakdown: Feels like Calvin Thibodeaux is going to have to work some magic if he can’t land Chaisson as a defensive end. Because none of these guys seem like they’re headed to OU.

Graham – Texas. Robinson – Texas A&M. Conliffe – Alabama. Daley – Notre Dame (at least as of June). So not the best of circumstances right there. Graham is absolutely another one of those Texas recruits that the Longhorns will pick up no questions asked if they play well on the field.

Chaisson is the key. Just because Addison Gumbs is committed to OU doesn’t mean the door is shut on Chaisson. At least not yet.

Defensive tackle

Commits: None

In the running: Deiontae Watts, Greg Rogers, Marvin Wilson

Boneman’s Breakdown: This is what everybody came to read, right? All this talk of receivers and defensive backs is nice, but you won’t go very far without the beef in the middle.

It might be too simplistic to say, but it’s starting to really feel like OU will get Watts and then hope for Rogers or Wilson with the understanding it probably won’t be possible to get both.

Watts has been very coy about the process the last few months, but it sure feels like that as long as Thibodeaux has been checking in and doing things right, no reason to believe things have soured between the two sides.

It was a dream offer. He was raised in Chickasha. There are a lot of positives. But with OU’s “reserve your spot” mentality, you almost wonder why OU hasn’t pressed Watts to do just that.

Because if OU already had Watts in the fold, then you could ramp up your efforts for Rogers and Wilson instead of being unsure about all three.

So that leads to the scenario that OU was initially interested in Watts but now sees the light at the end of the tunnel with Wilson and Rogers.

Rogers seems like the most realistic and the biggest boom you can get at this position. He’ll be tempted to stay out west, which is why OU doing so well in Cali the last couple of weeks could prove to pay major dividends down the road.

Wilson. Yea, know everybody wants him. Just so hard to see it happening right now. Still think it’s Texas, Alabama, LSU with OU trying to get through that door for an official visit.

Outside linebacker

Commits: Kenneth Murray, Addison Gumbs

In the running: K’Lavon Chaisson (if you see him as an OLB)

Boneman’s Breakdown: OU took care of this issue in a hurry with two commitments in a seven-day period to basically wrap things up.

The only question is whether or not you consider Chaisson to be an outside linebacker and whether or not you think OU will keep pursuing him.

Do think the Sooners never give up the pursuit and getting Gumbs almost allows them that luxury to go all-in as humanly possible with Chaisson because they know he’s a want and not a need.

Inside linebacker

Commit: Levi Draper

In the running: Anthony Hines, Jacob Phillips

Boneman’s Breakdown: This is the toughest one right now on the board. All signs point toward Hines. OU has coveted him since he was a freshman. Had him on campus probably ranging on double-digit occasions at this point.

There’s just something about Phillips. The fact Alabama and Notre Dame keep coming back to Phillips tells you all you need to know about where he stands on the totem pole of top inside linebackers. He’s coveted.

Is it possible to have both? Would it be possible to have both AND Chaisson and end up with six linebackers? Think that’s the real question. You could make a case for five, but six? Feels like pushing it considering OU is more accustomed to utilizing a 3-3-5 defensive alignment more than anything else.

The wild card is undoubtedly the official visit Phillips will make during ULM weekend. Would he consider pulling the trigger right there and not wait out all five of the visits?

Stressed it before with Hines but bears repeating that it’s tough to fault a kid for waiting, but on the other hand, what more does he need to see? From any of his top schools?

He’s visited all of them. Most of them multiple times. Would OU ever seriously consider bypassing on Hines if Phillips decided he was good to go after ULM?

Defensive back

Commits: Robert Barnes, Justin Broiles, Tre Brown

In the running: Jaylon Johnson, Kobe Boyce, Jeffrey Okudah

Boneman’s Breakdown: Put Boyce in the picture, but it’s hard to actually believe if anything will ever materialize with him. Feels like Boy Who Cried Wolf at this point with Boyce and visiting Norman.

Six months ago definitely felt like Johnson would be a Sooner. He was under the radar, had that Fresno connection. Things looked good. Then he blew up on a national stage, becoming a Scout 100 talent. Then OU landed guys like Brown and Broiles and things got murky in a hurry.

It’s hard to see OU as the favorite right now with all the work USC has put in with Johnson. OU is putting in the major work with Steve Stephens (2018 defensive back from Fresno) to continue that pipeline but just don’t see this one going down as of today.

Okudah, well, not much left to be said with that one. Nothing to change the line of thinking that it’s either OU or Ohio State. The Sooners will get their chances to make the impression, just gotta make them count and get his mother to believe and know OU would be a good spot for her son.

It won’t be easy but having three other Scout 300 defensive backs in the fold (who Okudah knows very well at this point) will allow Kerry Cooks to play this one out and try to make a five-star splash with Okudah.


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