Bob Przybylo/Scout

OU defensive line coach Calvin Thibodeaux rolling in 2018, Part. I - defensive end

Calvin Thibodeaux has found his groove, and it's showing with 2018 recruiting.

Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE What a difference a year makes. What a difference a change in scheme makes. Both points are valid when it comes to Oklahoma and its defensive line recruiting.

Last week marked the one-year anniversary of Calvin Thibodeaux being hired as OU’s defensive line coach, and it’s night-and-day where he is now compared to the 2017 class.

Where last year was about scrambling and trying to make things work, Thibodeaux’s experience combined with OU going to a four-man front has defensive line prospects salivating at the thought of being a Sooner again.

But just how many can OU take? The Sooners are in such a great position that it’s already time to break some of them down.

The traditional ‘wish list’ of offense and defense will return in May, but defensive line needs its own detailed recap right now.

In this two-day series, examine OU’s top targets at defensive end and defensive tackle… and there are a bunch of them.

Defensive end


Midwest City (Okla.) High’s Jalen Redmond. An outside linebacker in a 3-4 setup or a weak side defensive end in a 4-3, really doesn’t matter. What does matter is how great of a relationship the Sooners have built with Redmond in the last 12 months. Two trips to Norman in the last four weeks only solidify the thought that OU is the clear school to beat here even if Redmond doesn’t publicly make an announcement anytime soon.

OKC Putnam City’s Ron Tatum. Here is your leading candidate for strongside defensive end. Tatum said he loves OU changing from a 3-4 to a 4-3 and believes it fits what he does perfectly. Thibodeaux was ahead of the curve in making this offer. Other big boys are coming in now, but Thibodeaux has already put in the work. Tatum was close to committing at OU’s junior day last month, but he wants to make more visits. Belief is once those visits are in the books, OU will still be standing.

Overland Park (Kan.) Blue Valley North’s Miles Emery. Yes, there is seriously already a third favorite for OU to land in this group 11 months away from signing day. Emery was offered at OU’s initial junior day, the weekend before signing day. And everything is pointing toward OU being able to lock up one of Kansas’ top prospects for the 2018 class. Other offers are coming in, for sure, but the Sooners have to like where they stand right now.

Next in line

Euless (Texas) Trinity’s Izaih Filikitonga. There were some that were banking on Filikitonga being offered at OU’s junior day last week and committing on the spot. He was offered, but the commitment didn’t occur. However, he is absolutely another name to already circle in terms of OU putting in meaningful work early in the process to perhaps earn the signature in the end. Still a bit under the radar, Thibodeaux is in nice-and-early here.

St. Louis Lutheran North’s Ronnie Perkins. The competition for this Scout 300 prospect is going to be intense with national schools helping Perkins emerge here in recent weeks. Thibodeaux is certainly not going away from Perkins, but when you look at his other offers and look at OU’s available spots, this one just might not end up occurring. You want someone like Perkins for the class, but few times where OU can survive not getting someone like Perkins.

On the radar

Independence (Mo.) Chrisman’s Daniel Carson. Cannot stress it enough how huge it is for OU and for Thibodeaux to have so many top prospects at defensive line coming from the Midlands region. Thibodeaux could look at national names, but he really doesn’t have to leave Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas or Missouri for this crop. Carson is yet another one of those guys.

Dallas Carter’s Jarell Cherry. OU seemed to be faring well with Cherry, especially after a junior day visit in January. But as the last month has rolled on, seems like the Sooners could look at other options, while Cherry seems to be more than open to looking at his own options. Could end up being a numbers game when all said and done.

Sooners Illustrated does not believe Max Wright or Joseph Ossai are legitimate targets at this point.

Sooners Illustrated Top Stories