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OU 17-for-2017: Will the defensive line have an alpha dog this season?

Sooners Illustrated's 17-for-2017 rolls on wondering about defensive line leadership.

It’s about that time again. Expectations are high. Questions abound. Yep, it’s time for Oklahoma spring football.

The Sooners, coming off an 11-2 season where they won the Big 12 championship and the Sugar Bowl, will no doubt be expected to be in the national championship and playoff hunt once again.

The calendar turns to March. The page officially turns to 2017, and although things look rosy for OU, there are still plenty of unanswered questions going forward.

What are those? That’s where Sooners Illustrated comes in. We’ll take a look at one pressing question each day leading up to OU starting spring practice March 21. The spring game is April 8.

Sooners Illustrated’s 17 questions for spring 2017

USA TODAY Sports

Will the vocal alpha dog of defensive line please stand up?

OK, we’ve seen defensive line coach Calvin Thibodeaux start to pick things up on the recruiting trail and really find his footing.

With the Sooners moving from a three-man defensive front to a four-man, now we should see Thibodeaux in his element in terms of what he knows and what he’s coached.

But what we don’t know is who is the leader of that group? Asked that question last year and the answer was Jordan Wade when it was all said and done. Wade was a lead-by-example type of guy, never was going to give that inspirational speech.

What about this year? Can the Sooners go back-to-back years without a vocal presence among the defensive linemen?

D.J. Ward is a senior, but like Wade, doesn’t exhibit that natural behavior. Matt Romar, again, he’s in the same boat.

If you’re looking for a leader, the names you might be on the watch for are Neville Gallimore and Du’Vonta Lampkin. But they can only lead if they’re doing everything right on and off the field. With both of them being redshirt sophomores, you don’t know if that’s the case right now.

If you stretch the defensive line to include some of the pass rushers, then obviously Ogbonnia Okoronkwo steps to the forefront. He’s a leader and might actually be the alpha dog of the entire defense in 2017.

In terms of natural defensive linemen, though, the jury is out. OU made it work for one season, but no doubt Thibodeaux would love to have somebody WANT to be top dawg in the locker room for the Sooners in 2017.


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