Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
Oklahoma defensive lineman Neville Gallimore has drawn rave reviews from the coaching staff.

Oklahoma mailbag: Coaching staff sees talent rising up front

DieHards tackles the best questions from Oklahoma fans. Look for our Oklahoma question of the day Monday through Friday. Join the conversation by sending your questions to @john_shinn, by email to John at jshinn.oudiehards@gmail.com or at the Oklahoma DieHards Facebook page.

Waylon Leohmann asks, anyone else standing out on defense besides Brendan-Radley Hiles?

There are several players who’ve consistently drawn praise from the coaching staff this spring, so I’ll respond to this one with answers for an older player and younger players.

The returning player who has the coaching staff excited is junior defensive tackle Neville Gallimore. He moved to nose guard this spring, and the move looks like it will stick.

“He’s super talented. A big kid like that who runs a 4.7. He has it all. There were some injuries that kind of slowed him down last year,” defensive ends coach Calvin Thibodeaux said. “He’s jumping out on the tape. He’s really flashing. We’re lucky to have a guy as talented as him. I really expect for him to just cut it loose this year, just based on some of the things that we’ve seen.”

This is important because the defensive jump the Sooners need to make starts on the defensive line. The last time they had a defense capable of dominating games was in 2009, and former All-American defensive lineman Gerald McCoy anchored that unit.

I’m not putting Gallimore in McCoy’s class, but he has more physical talent than he’s displayed in the last two seasons. A breakout season from Gallimore changes the Sooners’ defense.

As far as first-year players go, outside linebacker Jalen Redmond and defensive end Ronnie Perkins have been as good as advertised, according to coaches and teammates.

I don’t know if either will start this season, but they will play. Perkins will be part of the defensive line rotation. Redmond will be part of pass-rushing packages at a minimum.

“These are what guys need to look like and play like. That helps. It makes a difference,” Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. “I just like the way we’re playing better and feel like the direction is better as a group.”

Fans can see for themselves when the Sooners play their spring game Saturday at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.