Clemson’s No. 1 front seven provides glimpse of what’s to come for Oklahoma

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Coming over from the Clemson Tigers, new Oklahoma Sooners’ head coach Brent Venables brought with him a reputation for sustained defensive success.

During his tenure with the Tigers, no school had more sacks or tackles for loss than Clemson. His units regularly ranked inside the top 10 in the country and the Tigers were able to compete with the SEC on the field with their two national championships and off the field in recruiting.

More specifically, the work Venables and his assistants did with the front seven group (defensive line and linebackers) is what stands out the most. In stints with Oklahoma and Clemson, Venables had a litany of players go on to the NFL and a number of them get selected in the first round of the NFL draft. Isaiah Simmons, Dexter Lawrence, and Gerald McCoy to name a few.

So it’s no surprise to see that Clemson’s front seven is looking strong again heading into 2022.

Barrett Sallee of CBS Sports ranked the Clemson Tigers group as the No. 1 front seven heading into the 2022 college football season.

If coach Dabo Swinney’s crew is going to get back to the top of the college football world this year, it’ll be on the heels of one of the best defenses — personnel-wise — that he’s ever produced. Superstar Bryan Bresee will anchor the middle of the line of scrimmage and, when healthy, is the top defensive lineman in the country. Add Xavier Thomas and K.J. Henry at edge, and the line should be devastating. The linebacking corps will be led by Trenton Simpson, who had 64 tackles, 12.5 which were for a loss, last season. The only real question here is if the success former defensive coordinator Brent Venables had during his tenure in the upstate can be replicated by new defensive coordinator Wes Goodwin. – Sallee, CBS Sports

Though you can’t completely extrapolate Venables’ success at building defensive fronts at Clemson to Oklahoma, it gives you a pretty good idea of what’s to come for the Sooners.

The track record speaks for itself with Brent Venables. His defensive prowess combined with his attitude and energy have many optimistic about what’s to come for the Oklahoma Sooners. Though it’s only year one and it’ll still be a couple of years until we see Venables recruiting classes make significant on-field impacts, you can expect that the Sooners will create a front seven that will be among the best in college football.

They’ve made a strong emphasis on recruiting the defensive line and linebackers to build an elite front seven.

Defensive tackle coach Todd Bates was a big part of what Clemson’s built over the years working alongside Venables. Now with the Sooners he can apply his strong recruiting and coaching to building the Sooners defensive interior into an elite unit.

Though this is Miguel Chavis’ first job as a position coach, the defensive ends coach has already made an impact on the recruiting trail. Signing day flips of R Mason Thomas and Kevonte Henry showed that the first-year defensive ends coach has the chops to be a player on the recruiting trail as well.

Though he’s left, Brent Venables’ fingerprints remain on the Clemson Tigers, at least for a little while longer. But that success and that track record will continue on in earnest with the Oklahoma Sooners.

Venables has a vision for what he wants his team to look like, especially as they prepare for life in the SEC. Be strong, suffocating, fast, and aggressive in the front seven. As they wait to make their move, the Sooners hope to unleash that same philosophy on their Big 12 foes as they make their trek back to the top of the Big 12 mountain.

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