Snippet from: Weekend Notebook | Defensive Ends
– James Hale
As off-season workouts get ready to get underway and training camp gets ready to start in mid-July the Sooners feel very good about their Rush End position. The Sooners return their two prime time players in sophomores Nik Bonitto (6’3, 231), and David Ugwoegbu (6’4, 245). Both took over the position last year because projected starter Jon-Michael Terry (6’3, 236) tore his ACL during the Texas game.
Terry is back for his senior year and now healthy and ready to go this season. He does not automatically get his starting job back but in talking to Terry he feels he will regain his starting spot this year.
That remains to be seen because Bonitto and Ugwoegbu played very well last year and will be hard to unseat this year. Bonitto played in all 14 games last year and started eight, finishing with 43 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, and 3.5 sacks. Bonitto was also great on special teams leading the team with six tackles. In the Big 12 Championship game, and he had his best game finishing with five tackles, two tackles for loss, and 1.5 sacks, plus the game-winning interception in overtime.
Ugwoegbu started one game and played behind Bonitto in the rest getting into every game and alternating at the position. Ugwoegbu finished the season with 14 tackles, four tackles for loss, one sack, and one pass breakup. His best game was against Oklahoma State when he made five tackles, had two tackles for loss, one sack, and one pass breakup. OU had plans to move Ugweogbu to inside backer in the spring feeling that with his skill set he just might be great there, but when the Sooners lost spring practice OU decided to scrap the experiment, at least for the time being.
Terry looked like he had found a home at Rush End before the knee injury. Terry had 16 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and half a sack. He was on his way to a good game against Texas with three tackles when he got hurt. Terry has always been thought of as a freak of an athlete but he has had no luck with the injury bug. Terry will be looking for one more chance at stardom at OU but he has two outstanding young players in front of him that he will have to leapfrog in training camp and that won’t be easy.
The wealth of riches at this position continues with redshirt freshman Joseph Wete (6’4, 222) who will get his first real chance to earn playing time this training camp. Wete has the size and skill set to be a very good Rush End and he will certainly push the older players on the roster.
If Ronnie Perkins does end up with a five-game suspension I could see Coach Jamar Cain flipping either Bonitto, Ugwoegbu, or Terry at times over to play defensive end. That would make the Sooners smaller across the front but OU’s defense ends aren’t that big anyway.
Perkins (6’3, 247) is a dynamic player and is always working on getting bigger and stronger, or at least we are told. He never seems to get over 250. The hope is that he can get bigger and stronger. A second-team all-conference selection a year ago started 13 games and Perkins finished with 38 total tackles finishing second on the team with 13.5 tackles for loss and 6.0 sacks on the year.
If Perkins is not eligible to play sophomore Marcus Stripling (6’3, 240) will get the first crack to replace him. Undersized a year ago Stripling was active registering six tackles, one against Baylor in the Big 12 Championship game. The question is can Stripling be a good defensive end at his size. He always looks very small out there. Junior Isaiah Thomas (6’5, 260) will get his first real chance to play in training camp. Thomas has more size than the rest of the defensive ends and he has worked himself into a legit D-End.
Thomas can run as well or better than any other guys at the position so athletically he has the skill set to play D-end at OU. Thomas did get some action last year playing in nine games and saw action in the last five games of the year. Thomas finished with four tackles on the year but seemed to get better the more he played.
OU found out against LSU that senior LaRon Stokes (6’4, 276) is not as effective at defensive end and needs to stay at defensive tackle. Sophomore Jalen Redmond (6’3, 278) seems to have the skill set to play outside and he was brought to OU to play Rush End or defensive end but OU coaches felt once he got to OU he would get too big and he looks great at defensive tackle. He will probably stay at defensive tackle. Redshirt freshman Marcus Hicks (6’5, 272) could work in at defensive end but he seems to be getting big enough to play defensive tackle.
OU has help one the way in four-star Reggie Grimes (6’3 1/2, 242) out of Ravenwood (Brentwood), Tennessee, and Noah Arinze (6’5 12, 240) of St. Louis (Webster Groves), Missouri. Grimes is considered more ready to play as a freshman as OU feels he’s a freak coming in while they always have felt that Arinze would need a year to get bigger and stronger. They feel Grimes needs that year as well but he runs so well that they feel his skill let may be too good to redshirt.
Like inside, OU is not very big at defensive end, but they have skill and guys that can run and in the ‘Speed D’ that is what DC Alex Grinch and company is looking for. We will see how that plays out this year and why if need be the guy at Rush End could also play some at defensive end especially if Perkins is out five games. It’s going to be interesting to see what OU comes up if Perkins is indeed suspended, but at least they have options with quality players that can make it work no matter what they come up with.
J. Michael Sturdivant | Update
– Super K
As Charlie noted, we had been under the impression that Cal would be the biggest threat.
I checked with a source on the OU side and it doesn’t sound like they are particularly confident.
Also, a spoke to a Dallas area source who tells me that Sturdivant’s father has long emphasized the roll of an institutions academic prestige in their decision – Cal Berkeley obviously being an impressive school.
Still should be plenty of fireworks on the 4th, either way.
So About That Potential Transfer We Mentioned | Update 7:20
– Charlie S
Been a hot topic on the board since K reported the following back on February 28th…
“Just spoke with K and he let me know it looks like there is some possible big news on the horizon in favor of OU coming via the transfer portal (no it’s not Leon O’Neal or Jeffrey Carter).
I want to caveat it by saying some of these things don’t come to fruition, but if things go as we are hearing, it could go down as early as next week.
Sometimes players change their minds and based on the sensitivity of the topic that’s really all we can say right now.”
Late last week, Shea Dixon from the LSU 247 site tweeted this…
Many of you had guessed who the transfer was through clues we had given, but now it is official that Marcel Brooks has entered his name into the NCAA transfer portal.
We expect OU to be involved here.
I touched base with K and he mentioned that it appears that TCU is very much in play.
We are trying to find out where things are between Brooks and OU as we haven’t spoken to anyone about it in a while as previously mentioned.
Hail Hail the Gangs All Here…For the Most Part
– Charlie S
As expected, the remaining members of the 2020 class have made their way to Norman to begin their college football careers.
The lone exception, as you know if you have been reading the board, is JUCO defensive back Justin Harrington who maintains he will be in Norman on July 8th. Hopefully, that works out for him and OU.
The only other player I have not been able to independently verify arriving is Chandler Morris, but he is listed in the OU database so no worries there.
Some of the guys tweeted out that they had made it in.
We will keep you guys up to speed on Harrington, but the rest of the class is in town and preparing for their freshman seasons!