May 10, 2006

Spring Grades: DEs

SoonerScoop.com will close out the spring by taking a look at each of the positions on the Sooner football team over the next two weeks. There are few concerns at the defensive end position heading into the 2006 season. That's because this is without a doubt the deepest group of defensive ends since Bob Stoops arrived on campus in 1999. It's still questionable whether this unit lives up to the Dan Cody/Jonathan Jackson/Larry Birdine triumvirate of 2004, but this group doesn't lag too far behind.

That group of defensive ends didn't have the potential playmakers behind the starters that we see heading into next season as John Williams and Alonzo Dotson also have amazing potential behind Birdine, C.J. Ah You and Calvin Thibodeaux.

One of the only concerns facing Chris Wilson heading into the Sooners' first game against UAB next fall is how he'll manage so many talented players at one position.

OVERALL GRADE: A

Even though C.J. Ah You had a very productive first season at Oklahoma, he was able to fine-tune the little things in his game during the spring. Calvin Thibodeaux would have to be considered the veteran of this group as he returns for his fifth season at Oklahoma after receiving a medical redshirt for a major knee injury two seasons ago.

But Larry Birdine is clearly the player who could make this unit a very special one. Birdine was projected as a high draft pick two years ago. His stock hasn't fallen as much as Birdine just fell out of the limelight after tearing his biceps muscle last fall. Birdine has much to do in order to show everyone he is a finished product and ready to take the next step. Is Birdine a dominating performer? Not yet, but he has one full year left to prove his worth.

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