We've already covered the offensive side of the ball. Let's look at the D and then sum things up.
2018 defensive position grades
Defensive tackle/nose guard
*Jordan Kelley – 6-5, 290, 5.1
*Michael Thompson – 6-4, 320, 5.2
Four stars, Rivals100.
Early on while OU was evaluating DTs Calvin Avery and Trevor Trout, the Sooners offered in-state prospect Kelley and seemed to shut down completely at the position. Kelley’s ceiling is very high – I’m a little surprised based on his performance on an ESPN-televised game that he’s not rated higher. He’s very athletic and explosive for a guy his size.
After watching the Rose Bowl, you would have been hard-pressed to find a bigger need in this class for OU than an additional impact DT. The only problem is that everyone in college football is chasing those guys, who are few in number every year. OU landed a massive signature in getting Michael Thompson DT from St. Louis.
Thompson is a massive inside athlete at 6-4, 320 pounds. His likely playing weight is more like in the range of 310. He’s huge, strong and shows the kind of power and explosion to be an interior pass rusher.
OU put in an all-out blitz to get Thompson on campus once questions about his grades appeared to clear up. Credit defensive line coach Calvin Thibodeaux for getting OU in the front door to begin the rush in January.
Quantity Grade: A
Two huge bodies – about right, considering the depth at defensive end in the class.
Quality Grade: B+
Thompson is a top 100 player and a top 10 DT by basically every service. He may be the best DT OU has signed since Gerald McCoy. Kelley has a huge upside as well – you just don’t find too many big men who can move like that.
Ronnie Perkins – 6-3, 255, 4.75
Ron Tatum – 6-5, 270, 4.8
Jalen Redmond – 6-3, 245, 4.6
Ron Tatum is probably the best in-state DL prospect out of Oklahoma since McCoy: His junior year film is that impressive. He looked bored this year after completing a dominating junior year. Once he saw better competition at the U.S. Army All-American Game, Tatum really turned it on and had an impressive showing. Tatum could easily find himself as a 6-5, 300 pound DT after some weight room time.
As good as Tatum looked at the Army Game, Ronnie Perkins looked even better. Perkins, who is enrolling early, seems like a lock to help OU immediately. If OU decides to use a true 4-3 defensive look, Perkins is an ideal DE. Perkins also could possibly end up as a 6-3, 285 pound DT/DE combo athlete (like Alabama's Jonathan Allen). If Perkins' massive talent is not enough, he’s potentially going to be the starting point for OU to establish a pipeline to St. Louis.
Jalen Redmond’s senior film is five-star good. To paraphrase a friend who watched Redmond destroy his high school football team one night, Redmond tossed around the opposing offensive linemen like they weren't even there. Redmond is also enrolling early and will very likely be in the competition to replace Ogbonnia Okoronkwo. Hopefully, the Sooners' defensive coordinator will figure out a way to get Redmond on the field at the same time with Addison Gumbs or Mark Jackson.
Quantity Grade: A-
OU wanted one more DE/DL player, but landing three impact defenders – two of whom are enrolling early – is a huge boost to the OU defensive front.
Quality Grade: A
Two Army All-Americans and one kid with absurd senior film. This might be the most talented position group in the whole class.
Brian Asamoah – 6-1, 215, 4.6
DaShaun White – 6-1, 220, 4.55
Nik Bonitto – 6-4, 205, 4.6
Once again, LB has provided the majority of the recruiting angst for Sooner fans. The position got a massive boost in early January with an Army All-American in White and an Under Armour All-American in Nik Bonitto.
Bonitto reminds me a lot of K’Jakrye Daley. He’s a long, athletic LB with a great first step for rushing the passer. He projects to be a 6-4, 235 pound speedy OLB with range who attacks the QB, giving OU lots of options for its scheme.
On film, White looks like the best LB in Texas, and it’s not really close. For OU, he’s a perfect WILL LB who never leaves the field. He reminds me of Rufus Alexander and will likely play at 6-1, 230 pounds, flying from sideline to sideline and providing excellent coverage support.
Brian Asamoah is the underrated part of this LB class. He split time between LB and running back for his high school as a senior. Right now, it seems like Asamoah will redshirt this fall while White provides depth.
The real problem with the LB group is that it lacks an ideal ILB.
Quantity Grade: B+
Three LBs offers good depth addition for the Sooners’ LB corps, but there is no one suited to the MIKE position. The most glaring LB roster issue for OU. )
Quality Grade: B+
Bonitto could be an impact defender down the line, but he’s a likely redshirt. Asamoah’s role is a question mark, and he will likely redshirt as well. White fits perfectly as an every-down defender at WILL.
Brendan Radley-Hiles – 5-10, 185, 4.4
Starrland Baldwin – 5-11, 185, 4.45
Miguel Edwards – 6-0, 185, 4.5
Four stars, Rivals250.
Next to the edge rushers, no position saw a greater infusion of depth and talent for OU than cornerback.
Brendan Radley-Hiles (AKA "Bookie") is going to battle for a starting position at CB this spring, or he could possibly take over the nickel spot. He’s a difference-maker who should not leave the field. To paraphrase secondary coach Kerry Cooks, he’s Baker Mayfield for the defense – some combo of Honey Badger and Revis Island.
In light of the depth CB, Miguel Edwards will probably get a shot at safety in spring to fill the slot left open by Will Johnson. Edwards shows a physical coverage game, and it’s not hard to believe that he could add weight to hold up to playing safety in the Big 12.
Starrland Baldwin is in Norman rehabbing now from an ACL injury and should be ready for the fall to provide even more depth at CB. Baldwin had a great summer camp, flashing elite agility and coverage skills.
The battle between Bookie, Tre Norwood, Parnell Motley, Tre Brown, and maybe Edwards/Baldwin for playing time should be great.
Quantity Grade: A
Three CBs give the secondary a massive boost.
Quality Grade: A+
Bookie is the best CB OU has signed since 2000. He could start and excel at nickelback as well. Edwards and Baldwin are both top 250 players who could easily start for OU.
Patrick Fields – 6-0, 195, 4.5
Delarrin Turner-Yell – 5-11, 175. 4.45
Patrick Fields was one of the first verbal commitments for the 2018 class and provided the glue of the class during the coaching change that saw about three weeks of chaos for OU’s recruiting. Fields had a great senior season at Tulsa Union and is very physical. In fact, I’d say he’s a bit underrated based on the quality of that film. He’s enrolling early and looks like he could help initially at nickelback.
Delarrin Turner-Yell is smaller, but he's a huge hitter. Brandon Everage might be the best comparison. You have to wonder if his frame can hold up to the pounding that he tries to dish out.
While both Fields and Turner-Yell look like good safety prospects, this position is going to be judged in this cycle by missing on Josh Proctor, the inability to get California safety Jaiden Woodbey on campus and the loss of Leon O’Neal to Texas A&M. In addition, OU never had a shot at Jordan Sterns, BJ Foster or Demarvion Overshown, all of whom ended up at Texas. Finally, the coaching staff seemed to pass on CJ Smith, a top 250 player.
Considering the departures of Will Sunderland, Steven Parker and Will Johnson, only two safeties seems a little light right now.
Quantity Grade: B
OU really needed to add another dedicated safety in this class. The staff recruited that way all fall. In fact, it seemed at times that OU wanted two more safeties.
Quality Grade: B-
Fields is a good player, but he might be the third-best safety in Oklahoma. Turner-Yell has huge boom-bust potential.
With 18 players receiving a grade of four stars or better, this class infuses massive amounts of talent into the roster. Notably, five defenders are ranked in the nation’s top 100 by at least one service.
Bookie playing either nickel or CB could be an instant upgrade for the D. Likewise, Miguel Edwards will be given every opportunity to show his skills at safety. (Playing Bookie at CB could allow Norwood and Jordan Parker to try out safety, too.)
Perkins and Redmond enrolling early could upgrade OU’s outside pass rush in a big way. Also, Tatum and Thompson could be significant rotation additions to the DL when they arrive in August.
Meanwhile, if the LBs currently on campus continue to struggle, White could easily take over at WILL and be an every-down player in the Big 12.
On the offensive side, I expect Pledger to make a run at the third RB spot, especially with his receiving skills. By enrolling in the spring, Jaqualyn Crawford will likely make a run at the spot vacated by Jeff Badet. Brayden Willis might even provide depth and reps at H-back.
Quantity Grade: A-
This class meets a host of needs. There’s only one outright depth miss, ILB, and one spot where an additional body would have helped, safety.
Quality Grade: A-
There’s a big-time core to this class. The Sooners have potentially elite contributors for this fall at receiver, offensive line, DE, DT, rush OLB and CB. The other signees offer needed depth at OT, CB, LB and WR.