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Big 12 Impact Freshmen: Oklahoma

 With the Big 12 season less than three months away, here’s a look at the potential impact freshmen for each team. Recruiting rankings are based on the 247Sports Composite which calculates the average of all four major recruiting websites (247Sports, Rivals, ESPN and Scout.)

8-5 (5-4 Big 12); 4th in Big 12

2015 Team Ranking

National Rank: 15

Big 12 Rank: 2

Class Breakdown

5-star: 0

4-star: 10

3-star: 16

Top Incoming Prospects

  • DT Neville Gallimore, 4-star, Canada Prep Football Academy (St. Catharines, ON), 6-2, 330 lbs, No. 11 DT, No. 72 overall
  • ILB Rick DeBerry, 4-star, Atlee (Mechanicsville, VA), 6-3, 240 lbs, No. 2 ILB, No. 86 overall
  • CB PJ Mbanasor, 4-star, Hendrickson (Pflugerville, TX), 6-1, 176 lbs, No. 19 CB, No. 132 overall
  • APB Rodney Anderson, 4-star, Katy (Katy, TX), 6-1, 204 lbs, No. 4 APB, No. 155 overall
  • OT Bobby Evans, 4-star, Allen (Allen, TX), 6-4, 280 lbs, No. 13 OT, No. 174 overall

Class Overview

Along with the Longhorns, the Sooners are used to being the class of the Big 12. Since 1999, the program has been in a bowl game every season under Bob Stoops. That pedigree has attracted recruits without much hesitation, but with the rise of small schools Baylor and TCU, this may be the last season Oklahoma can coast on reputation in the recruiting game — they come into the season with the second-best recruiting class.

Before getting into the true freshmen coming in, their most important recruit is a wide receiver transfer from Blinn College, Dede Westbrook. Sterling Shepard looks to be the main target in this new Oklahoma Air Raid offense, but Westbrook — the number one JUCO receiver last season — will be a pivotal player opening more opportunities for quarterback Baker Mayfield (should he win the job). Between the two, Big 12 defenses should have their hands full. But after going from playoff favorite to fourth in the conference, it will take more than a single player for a paradigm shift to happen.

To keep the offense rolling and Mayfield out of injury trouble, the offensive line has to improve. Oklahoma has produced top talent in the past decade. Senior center Ty Darlington and guard Nila Kasitati are the anchors inside, while the edges are occupied by a pair of senior tackles. So while Bobby Evans has great potential as a 4-star tackle, he may redshirt to keep his eligibility — six of Oklahoma’s offensive starters redshirted their freshman season. He enrolled in February, so it’s unclear if he’ll have immediate impact.

Defensive tackle Neville Gallimore the top true freshman of this class has a chance to make an immediate impact in the trenches. The Canadian product has the ability to move outside to defensive end, but he’s most comfortable inside. He’s not expected to redshirt and should find himself in the rotation as only senior end Charles Tapper has a position wrapped up. Once Gallimore enrolls, he should make strides to help out this defense.

Moving to their weakest position group, the Sooners are adding six defensive backs to the mix. Most are likely to wait a season to see action but cornerback PJ Mbanasor and safety Will Sunderland looks to see action this fall. The corner positions should improve under Zack Sanchez and Jordan Thomas, and over the middle Steven Parker impresses. But Sunderland especially is expected to have significant field-time along with Kahlil Haughton who decided not to stay home in Waco for Baylor.

But no matter the talent amassed this season as the Sooners have long accomplished, it’s a matter of turning the talent into something tangible. Top recruiting classes mean nothing when celebrating trips to [insert random sponsor name here] Bowl game.

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