Defensive line depth Oklahoma’s biggest need for its 2024 recruiting class per ESPN

This week, ESPN examined the 2024 recruiting landscape as less than four months stand between us and the early signing period. For Oklahoma, they sit in an advantageous position. They comfortably have a top-25 recruiting class and are on the cusp of potentially landing three more commitments over the next week. It all starts with five-star defensive tackle David Stone on Saturday evening.

David Stone’s recruitment means a lot to Oklahoma. He’s been arguably the top priority in the cycle for two years. Not only is he a must-get because of his talent, but the Sooners have to earn his commitment because of how many upperclassmen they have on their defensive line.

After this season, they could see a multitude of interior defensive linemen depart the program for graduation or to play in the NFL. Because of that, ESPN lists Oklahoma’s most significant need for their 2024 class as defensive line depth.

Craig Haubert of ESPN analyzed the biggest needs for the top 25 recruiting classes, and here’s what he had to say about the No. 15 ranked Sooners (ESPN+).

The Sooners must improve their defense and get stronger in the trenches as they prepare to move to the SEC. They began to address those changes last cycle with several signings led by elite edge prospect Adepoju Adebawore, multiple three-stars and transfer portal additions. But 2023 ESPN 300 signee Derrick Leblanc has already transferred from the program, and Oklahoma’s current unit is heavy on upperclassmen. Five-star DL David Stone is expected to decide soon, and the Sooners are in a good position for the Oklahoma native, who plays at IMG. Stone is an explosive and agile big man that could immediately contribute. ESPN 300 DE Nigel Smith could be another key addition and is expected to decide in early September. LSU would love to keep Dominick McKinley at home, but the Sooners are contenders here as well, as they look to address this need in a potentially big way. – Haubert, ESPN

Oklahoma’s surplus of upperclass defensive linemen should serve them well as they look to bounce back from an abysmal defensive performance in 2022.

As Haubert points out, the interior of the defensive line is dependent on the veterans making an impact this season. There are intriguing youngsters inside like Gracen Halton, Ashton Sanders, Kelvin Gilliam, and Markus Strong, but we’ve yet to see them take significant snaps at the collegiate level.

It makes Stone’s decision even more critical. It also adds to the importance of Nigel Smith II’s impending decision. Four-star EDGE Danny Okoye, a star from Oklahoma, also becomes a must-have for the Sooners.

The Sooners don’t just want these three talented defensive linemen. They need them. Oklahoma looks like they have been lapped by Texas, who seems to have run away from OU in the recruitment of Dominick McKinley.

Oklahoma has commitments from defensive tackle Jayden Jackson and Wyatt Gilmore. With all that said, Oklahoma has a promising chance to add some defensive line depth for next season in the coming weeks and months. It’s about finishing and closing the deal for the Sooners, something they have shown us they aren’t afraid to do.

Story originally appeared on Sooners Wire