Oklahoma Sooners: Matthew Romar

This summer, ESPN.com is taking a closer look at each scholarship player on the Oklahoma Sooners' roster in our Crimson Countdown series. Each day, we analyze each player’s impact on the program since arriving on campus, his potential impact this fall, and his long-term projection. Starting with No. 1 Dominique Alexander, the series follows the roster numerically through No. 98 Chuka Ndulue.

No. 92 Matthew Romar, defensive tackle, 6-foot, 287 pounds, redshirt freshman

Impact thus far: Romar redshirted during his freshman season in 2013.

Impact in 2014: Romar should provide depth along the Sooners’ defensive line. It would be a surprise if he earns a bigger role, but he did have a solid spring and is already showing signs he can be a contributor on OU’s defensive line during his career.

Long term upside: Don’t expect a major impact as a redshirt freshman but Romar has the ability to be a three-year contributor and emerge as a key asset along OU’s defensive front for the next few years.

Evaluation grade for Romar: C. It’s early to grade Romar but it would be a surprise if he never makes an impact for OU after having a solid spring following a redshirt campaign. The talent in front of him in 2014 is likely to have more to do with his lack of an impact than a lack of ability on his part.

Development grade for Romar: A. Even though the Sooners lost Jordan Phillips to injury during the season, a redshirt year for Romar was the right move. Now he has four full seasons to emerge as a impact player after one season in the strength and conditioning program.
In the next few weeks leading into signing day it’s a great time to take a position-by-position glance at Oklahoma’s returning roster. This series, called State of the Position, will look at the playmakers, up-and-comers and current commitments or targets at each position for the Sooners as recruiting really heats up during these final weeks before signing day on Feb. 5. On Wednesday, we take a closer look at the defensive tackle position.

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Jackson Laizure/Getty ImagesIf Jordan Phillips can return fully healthy, he will be another big piece on the Sooners interior line.
Starter/contributors: Jordan Wade (So.), Jordan Phillips (Jr.), Chuka Ndulue (Sr.)

The argument could be made that Wade was the best freshman on a Sooners defense that featured Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year Dominique Alexander. Wade stepped in after Phillips was injured and more than held his own as an anchor for OU’s defense, particularly in the final month of the season. He has a big future ahead of him.

Ndulue made a pretty smooth transition to the defensive interior after spending his first two seasons at defensive end. His versatility is an important asset and he brought experienced play to the defense in 2013. Ndulue will continue to be a critical piece in 2014.

If Phillips returns to his September 2013 form, OU’s defense could secure itself a place among the nation’s best. He was a disruptive force who was finally starting to match the hype with production before a back injury derailed his sophomore year.

On the cusp: Charles Walker (redshirt freshman), Matthew Romar (redshirt freshman), Quincy Russell (Sr.), Torrea Peterson (Sr.)

Asked about who impressed during their redshirt season, Sooners coaches and players consistently mentioned Walker. His teammates on OU’s offensive line lauded his explosiveness after going against Walker on the scout team last fall. He could be poised to make an impact.

Romar joins Walker as another guy who could help after a redshirt season. With so many quality options at the position, OU won’t be in a hurry to throw Romar into the fire.

Russell saw spot duty as a junior and never really could secure himself a consistent role on OU’s defense after joining the program in the middle of preseason drills. Nonetheless, he has the ability to be a contributor as a senior.

Peterson played in seven games in 2013, even starting against Iowa State, but never really distanced himself from the competition at the position. He’s a solid guy to have in the fold but hasn’t proven to be irreplaceable with his on-field production.

On the recruiting trail: Brandon Glenn (Irving, Texas/Ranchview)

Glenn may or may not make it on campus with academic concerns standing in his way. But OU has made a hard push for Courtney Garnett (New Orleans/Saint Augustine) and could land the defensive tackle, which would be a clear upgrade on the hype-o-meter.

Realistically it might not matter what happens on the recruiting trail with Walker and Romar appearing to pan out as potential hidden gems in last year’s class and OU’s move to a three-man front.

Overall Grade: A

Three significant returning contributors, multiple others who have played in games and two freshmen with solid upside? The only reason this isn’t a A+ is the lack of a top-notch defensive tackle commitment. This position looks 100 times better right now than it did in late January 2013. Sure seems like defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery deserves a raise.
Recruiting season is about to kick into high gear. As soon as Bedlam is over on Dec. 7, Oklahoma will hit the recruiting trails hard looking to secure the future.

[+] EnlargeDominique Alexander
William Purnell/Icon SMIOU didn't offer Dominique Alexander a scholarship until last October. Now he's a starting linebacker.
OU has been superb at finding late hidden gems in recent seasons, with cornerback Zack Sanchez, a redshirt freshman from the Class of 2012, and linebacker Dominique Alexander, a true freshman from the Class of 2013, already making an impact on the program after getting relatively late offers from the Sooners.

Here are some priority spots for the Sooners to address in their 2014 class during the final two months of this recruiting cycle. Keep in mind, this list has everything to do with the young players on campus at each position, not necessarily the guys who are playing at that position each Saturday in 2013.

Offensive tackle: Derek Farniok and Christian Daimler are the lone underclassmen at offensive tackle. OU badly needs depth at the position and should be aiming to land at least two offensive tackle prospects in this class. If redshirt freshman tight end Sam Grant ends up at tackle, that would help the cause and lessen the urgency, but its a high priority position in this year's class. Worse yet, there doesn't seem to be a lot of hope at the position with top prospects mentioning OU on their lists. Finding a hidden gem in December could be the top priority for offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh.

Defensive tackle: This position looks a lot better right now than it did a year ago with the early play of Jordan Phillips, a sophomore, and the emergence of Jordan Wade, a redshirt freshman. Nevertheless, there is no such thing as too many quality defensive tackles. The Sooners have one commit in Irving (Texas) Ranchview's Brandon Glenn, but that's not enough. OU needs to secure at least one more defensive tackle prospect to join Glenn and redshirting freshmen Matthew Romar and Charles Walker as the future at the position.

Linebacker: OU rallied to bring in two quality linebackers late in last year’s recruiting cycle with Alexander and Jordan Evans. Each committed to OU late in the process and became impact freshmen this fall. The Sooners need to supplement that duo with a least one more playmaker to join Allen (Texas) linebacker Tay Evans and Murrieta (Calif.) Vista Murrieta linebacker Curtis Bolton on their commit list. Several linebackers could be in play and keep in mind the Sooners did secure Alexander and Evans late in the process.

Running back: You can never have too many running backs. And OU loses three quality ball carriers in Brennan Clay, Roy Finch and the recently dismissed Damien Williams. Redshirt freshman Alex Ross has a good size/speed ratio, true freshman Keith Ford has terrific upside, and commitment Samaje Perine (Pflugerville, Texas/Hendrickson) is a member of the ESPN 300. But the Sooners need to add another quality runner into the mix. Oakley (Calif.) Freedom running back Joe Mixon, No. 72 in the ESPN300, would be an outstanding addition to this class.

Receiver: Even though the Sooners seem to have some solid youngsters already on campus, they don't have a proven game-breaking receiver outside of Sterling Shepard returning in 2014. But, and this is critical, they can't just use a scholarship to bring in another guy. With Tulsa (Okla.) Union receiver Jeffery Mead and La Mirada (Calif.) receiver Dallis Todd already committed, receivers coach Jay Norvell should think elite receiver or bust. Norvell should join Mike Stoops in doing whatever it takes to land Michiah Quick (Fresno, Calif/Central East), then fight for him to end up on the offensive side of the ball.

Montgomery must reverse fortune at DT 

April, 1, 2013
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NORMAN, Okla. -- OK, Jerry Montgomery, this is a big reason you were brought to Oklahoma. Defensive tackle Trey Lealaimatafao (San Antonio/Warren) unexpectedly committing to Texas on Saturday night is another example of the Sooners falling short at defensive tackle.

And an example of the work ahead for Montgomery.

For OU’s 2012 class, the Sooners had a plan to not lobby too hard for a defensive tackle. They didn’t attack any high school or junior college prospects and were content with who was on campus.

After recruiting them for several months, Oklahoma's coaching staff was finally able to talk publicly about the players the Sooners added to the program on signing day. Over the next week or so, SoonerNation will review some of the key things coaches had to say about the players signed at each position group during their signing day webcast on Soonersports.com.

The Sooners hope they made a quality evaluation with their signing of defensive tackle Matthew Romar (Port Arthur, Texas/Memorial). The 6-foot-3, 265-pound future Sooner played various positions in high school, including running back. OU hopes the athleticism that allowed him to play running back will help him become a playmaker in the middle of the Sooners' defense.

"This guy played running back at times," defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. "He can do a lot of things, we love the way he plays. He's a very athletic guy. We're really happy to get him."

With every program in the country searching for quality defensive tackles, the ability to project players to the defensive tackle position is becoming more and more important. That's what the Sooners have done with Romar and OU is banking on his athleticism to take over once he gets familiar with playing defensive tackle on a full-time basis.

"He's a really good get," defensive ends coach Bobby Jack Wright said. "A big strong guy. He’s a pretty good running back so you know he has to have a little bit of explosiveness to him."

Position breakdown: Defensive tackle 

February, 25, 2013
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NORMAN, Okla. -- Michigan defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery will become Oklahoma's defensive tackles coach. And he faces a tall task in Norman.

No position on Oklahoma’s roster has more questions marks than defensive tackle.


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Shipp's departure stuns OU recruits 

February, 13, 2013
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Another day, another Oklahoma assistant coach shown the door. This one, though, has sent shock waves through OU recruiting circles.


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LB coach Kish closes strong for Sooners 

February, 7, 2013
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NORMAN, Okla. -- Entering the fall, some Oklahoma fans were wondering what in the world first-year linebackers coach Tim Kish was doing.

Kish had made a big reputation as a solid recruiter during his time at Arizona. Several months into the job at OU, and he hadn’t help land any of the top Arizona recruits, had taken too long with many top Texas prospects and had some fans calling for a change.

[+] EnlargeMike Stoops, Tim Kish
J.P. Wilson/Icon SMI Linebackers coach Tim Kish used his connections in California to discover receiver K.J. Young.
Supporters of Kish said give it time, give him an opportunity to build the relationships with recruits and judge him from there.

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SoonerNation signing day live blog

February, 6, 2013
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Dakota AustinDamon Sayles/ESPNCornerback Dakota Austin committed to the Sooners over the weekend and signed on Wednesday.
Welcome to SoonerNation's live coverage of national signing day for the Oklahoma Sooners. We'll be with you throughout the day providing up-to-the minute updates on OU's class of 2013.

Watch live coverage on ESPNU | Talk signing day on our SoonerNation forum Insider | OU class

Follow the live blog after the jump.

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Solid DTs aren't always highly ranked 

February, 5, 2013
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Gerald McCoy and Tommie Harris are players who immediately come to mind when Oklahoma fans think of the tradition at defensive tackle. Both All-Americans were highly recruited high school prospects who stepped on campus with high expectations then fulfilled them.

But McCoy and Harris are the exception, not the norm.


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Sooners' board dwindling in final week 

February, 1, 2013
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NORMAN, Okla. -- We've hit the stretch run for the Sooners' 2013 recruiting class. And while so much of Oklahoma’s class has been decided, there is still much to settle by Feb. 6.

Heading into this final weekend before national signing day, here are OU’s top targets still left on the board:


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Matthew Romar adds depth for Sooners 

January, 30, 2013
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Oklahoma’s continued pursuit of defensive tackle Matthew Romar (Port Arthur, Texas/Memorial) is a sign the Sooners are looking to use numbers to make up for past mistakes.

Romar is the fourth defensive tackle the Sooners are looking to add on signing day as OU hopes to beef up its defensive front this fall and in the future. OU brought in three defensive tackles combined in its 2011 and 2012 recruiting classes and enters the 2013 season with sophomore Jordan Phillips as the lone returning defensive tackle with game experience.


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DT Matthew Romar is OU commit No. 21

January, 30, 2013
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Two weeks ago it looked like Oklahoma was done looking for defensive tackles for its 2013 class. Assistant coach Jackie Shipp had put in major work and landed three quality commitments.

But Shipp wasn’t done. He went to Port Arthur (Texas) Memorial last weekend and offered three-star prospect Matthew Romar.

Romar saw OU’s campus for the first time this weekend and took some time to think it over before committing to the Sooners, Port Arthur Memorial coach Kenny Harrison confirmed on Wednesday afternoon.

Romar, who is 6-foot-3 and 265 pounds, also had offers from Tulsa and Baylor, among others. Once the Sooners fully entered the race, though, it became clear it was up to OU to simply close the deal.

He played a little bit of running back in high school so there was some speculation about his size. Harrison said once Shipp saw Romar in person two weeks ago, all the doubts vanished.

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No commits but solid weekend for OU 

January, 28, 2013
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NORMAN, Okla. -- With everybody looking for instant gratification, it’s tough to view the weekend as a success for Oklahoma.

But it was even if it doesn’t feel like it for fans.


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Georgia tackles top OU's target board 

January, 25, 2013
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In the stretch run, and while so much of Oklahoma’s class has been decided, plenty more will happen in the next two weeks.

Top targets are changing on almost a daily basis, but heading into the weekend here are OU’s top 10 targets left on the board.


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