Oklahoma’s defensive improvement must start upfront. Pressure on the quarterback, closing off running lanes, and winning first down are all keyed by what the guys do on the line. Fortunately the Sooners have two potential stars in the middle of the line who were thrust into the spotlight just a little too early.
Not fully prepared for Matt Romar to have an early end to his playing career, Marquise Overton and Neville Gallimore were forced to take over the rotation at nose guard a year earlier than planned in 2017. They’re better off for the experience now and that could pay huge dividends in 2018.
Overton (6-1/315) is a senior from Tulsa, OK. who has made 24 game appearances over the last three seasons, including all fourteen games in 2017 where he made nine starts.
The former Jenks standout has more experience than his trench-mate, but it may turn out that Neville Gallimore has more upside. At 6-2/330 he has more of a true nose guard body but also has physicality to go with it.
Don’t let the fact that he’s a junior confuse you on his experience. In two seasons at Oklahoma he has made 25 game appearances with 11 starts. That puts him on pace with Overton but he’s also collected eighteen more tackles (68) than the elder Overton (50).
Both guys will see plenty of time on the field for Oklahoma’s defense this season but look for Gallimore to draw the start as the man in the middle of the line. The biggest difference from 2017 to 2018 should be their level of preparedness. This time last year they were battling to crack the rotation behind Romar. That hasn’t been the case this summer and the drive towards a starting spot has set both up potential career seasons this fall.