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Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Breaking down the board: Defensive tackle

By Brandon Chatmon

Each week, "Breaking down the board" will take a deeper, position-by-position look at the prospects Oklahoma is target. SoonerNation will rank five players at each position with No. 1 being the player who should be OU’s top priority of the five recruits listed.

To be clear, this ranking has nothing to do with the Sooners' actual recruiting board/priority list. It's simply our ranking list compiled of the recruits at the position who have expressed legitimate interest in the Sooners and who could be the best fits for OU’s system.

Today we look at Oklahoma's defensive tackle board:


Maquedius Bain
ESPN 150 defensive tackle Maquedius Bain is planning to visit Oklahoma in November.
1. Maquedius Bain, Davie, Fla./University School

Measurables: 6-foot-5, 285 pounds

Rankings: No. 41 on ESPN 150; No. 6 defensive tackle, No. 12 player in Florida, No. 22 in the Southeast Region.

ESPN.com grade: 87, four-star prospect.

Accolades: Under Armour All-American

How he’d fit: It's hard to imagine him struggling to make an immediate impact. If he was in the middle of OU’s interior, it would make things very difficult on opponents. He’s going to require double teams and still have the ability to create penetration in opposing defenses. A defensive tackle duo featuring Bain and Jordan Phillips would be big, disruptive and you couldn’t double team both at the same time.

Why he's No. 1: Bain is an exceptional athlete. It’s hard to find defensive tackles as athletic as he is and he has the ideal size for the position with room to grow. Simply put, he’s a difference maker.

Bob Przybylo's take: Bain is an interesting OU prospect because until a couple of months ago, he wasn't thought to be a realistic prospect. He originally wanted to see the campus during one of OU's bye weeks but a testing conflict prevented that. Bain is now scheduled to take an official to OU for Bedlam against Oklahoma State on Thanksgiving weekend. He was a Florida State commit for a brief period in the winter.

2. Toby Johnson, College Park, Ga./Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College

Measurables: 6-foot-4, 290 pounds

How he’d fit: As the lone junior college player on the list, he’d likely earn a spot in the defensive tackle rotation immediately with a good chance to start in 2013 with three seniors currently compiling OU’s rotation. He could slide right in with the OU defensive interior and be a key contributor.

Why he's No. 2: Johnson could be the most ready to help immediately since he has been playing junior college football for two seasons. Additionally, he brings terrific size and strength to the table along with the athleticism to be a playmaker.

Bob Przybylo's take: Johnson has made an unofficial and an official visit to OU and assistant coach Jackie Shipp has been persistent in Johnson's recruitment. The biggest hurdle seems to be Georgia where Johnson is originally from and still plans to take an official visit to Athens, Ga., following his season.

3. Greg Gilmore, Hope Mills, N.C./South View

Measurables: 6-foot-4, 285 pounds

Rankings: No. 101 on ESPN 150; No. 9 defensive tackle, No. 2 player in North Carolina, No. 48 in the Southeast Region.

ESPN.com grade: 84, four-star prospect.

Accolades: Under Armour All-American

How he’d fit: He’d be an ideal fit in the Sooners' defensive front and there’s plenty of opportunity to play in the interior in 2013. He could be able to line up at various positions along the defensive line, similar to David King, and has the physical talent to create havoc in opponent’s backfield. He has the size to hold his own in the interior and the quickness and athleticism to swing outside if needed.

Why he's No. 3: Gilmore has unique quickness and athleticism for a player his size. He create problems for most opponents because he has the physical ability to consistently win his one-on-one battle. That will make him a very valuable commodity in college football.

Bob Przybylo's take: Sometimes being clueless can be a good thing. Gilmore admittedly had no idea about OU going into his official visit last weekend and said his mind was blown by the experience. The Sooners have done a good job of playing catch up with Gilmore, but LSU appears to be the favorite. Gilmore will take an official to Baton Rouge, La., this weekend and is tentatively set to decide between OU, LSU and Florida on Nov. 8.

4. Justin Manning, Dallas/Kimball

Measurables: 6-foot-2, 275 pounds

Rankings: No. 89 on ESPN 150; No. 8 defensive tackle, No. 11 player in Texas, No. 12 in the Midlands Region.

ESPN.com grade: 84, four-star prospect.

Accolades: Army All-American

How he’d fit: Manning could be a disruptive force in the middle and could play immediately. His quickness and acceleration should allow him to be a pass rushing threat and get into opponent’s backfields. He’ll need to bulk up a bit but he should be able to become a force if he’s committed to being great.

Why he's No. 4: Manning has terrific talent but could use a year or two to put on the pounds to handle college football. There’s no reason he can’t make an impact as a true freshman but that extra weight could pay dividends as he progresses through his college career.

Bob Przybylo's take: It's tough to get into Manning's head right now. Originally scheduled to announce his decision Oct. 19, Manning has delayed things. I still believe OU is in the driver's seat, but the longer he waits, the more questions start to pop up. The younger brother of former OU defensive tackle DeMarcus Granger, he has felt like a Sooners shoo-in for a while but Texas A&M, LSU, TCU and USC are still alive. Manning has been a top OU target for a long time.

5. Josh Augusta, Peoria, Ill./Peoria

Measurables: 6-foot-4, 275 pounds

Rankings: No. 132 on ESPN 150; No. 12 defensive tackle, No. 7 player in Illinois, No. 18 in the Midwest Region.

ESPN.com grade: 83, four-star prospect.

How he’d fit: There’s no guarantee Augusta would make an immediate impact but his upside is comparable with everyone on this list. The fact he’s played tight end during his high school career speaks to his athletic ability but he’s fairly raw and will need time to develop at the position.

Why he's No. 5: While the Sooners are among his top four teams, he hasn’t set up an official visit yet. Nonetheless he gets the nod over other talented defensive tackles particularly Quincy Russell (Athens, Texas/Trinity Valley Community College) because Augusta is a prep player with upside and four seasons to play at the Division I level.

Bob Przybylo's take: Augusta doesn't seem to be too clear on where he stands. Sometimes he has put OU in the mix, while the Sooners have been on the outside looking in at other times. OU was among the first schools to show serious interest, but he has still yet to see the campus. And it's uncertain if he ever is going to see Norman. He loved his visit to Missouri and local schools such as Iowa and Illinois are in a great spot to land him as well.

Overall summary: All five defensive tackles have the ability to be difference makers in crimson and cream. Therefore the Sooners could do no wrong and should do cartwheels if they land any of these prospects.