Jeremy Werner // Illini Inquirer

OU's 'must-get' for 2018 class - all signs point toward defensive line

When examining OU's 2018 class, one position clearly stands out.

There are a number of spots right now where Oklahoma doesn’t have a commitment for the 2018 class, and it's OK. Lincoln Riley had to go back to the drawing board at quarterback. Cale Gundy is still searching for the right guy at tight end.

Riley and Dennis Simmons are looking to hit a home run at receiver. Tim Kish and Mike Stoops are positioning themselves at linebacker.

But of all the spots that scream for something major to occur for 2018, nothing stands out more than defensive line with one commit and perhaps as many as five more spots remaining.

Now in his second year, it’s up to Calvin Thibodeaux to make a splash. Not just because it’s what OU fans expect but also because the opportunity is there.

There will never be a bigger chance for Thibodeaux to create such a monster class of defensive linemen without even having to leave the Midlands region.

At the same time, you could say there won’t be as much pressure on Thibodeaux to forge a talented class as there will be in the upcoming months for #SavageTeam2K18.

Thibodeaux showed he could compete with the big dogs during the 2017 class in pursuit of five-star defensive tackle Marvin Wilson. He signed with Florida State, but it was a bold statement by Thibodeaux to get OU as far as he did in the race.

 But nobody wants to be runner-up forever. Nobody wants to get the reputation as a great guy and coach but not a closer. That’s what Thibodeaux is trying to avoid this class.

And, yea, honestly, 2018 isn’t off to a banner start with OKC Putnam City defensive end Ron Tatum picking Texas instead of the Sooners last month.

Thibodeaux was able to put in the work to land Tulsa Union defensive tackle Jordan Kelley, but you hope it’s not at the expense of other top targets.

Word around the street is certain guys seem to be competing for a spot, and when you examine OU’s depth chart moving forward at both end and tackle, the Sooners should load up on the prospects and figure out positions later.

If you believe Kelley and Dallas Bishop Dunne’s Calvin Avery are like the same guy, so what? If you think junior college target Emmit Gooden and St. Louis Chaminade Prep’s Trevor Trout play the same way, don’t exclude yourself from one in pursuit of the other.

There are positions where OU can be choosy, but in trying to build up championship depth at defensive line, well, that’s not one of them.

The Sooners aren’t the “sexy” school right now for defensive linemen. A switch from a play-your-gap 3-4 to a more attacking 4-3 defensive front could help, should help, but we won’t know until there is production on the field.

Thibodeaux has targets in OU’s backyard. He can go north to Kansas and Missouri and find them. He can go south to Texas and see a bunch. There are so many options in play at this spot.

So don’t worry about getting too many of them. Just make sure you get them, first, and then work to figure out how the pieces fit later.

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