OU football: Perrion Winfrey hoping to make a big impression in Alex Grinch's defense
NORMAN — By the time Alex Grinch arrived at the University of Oklahoma in January, recruiting for the 2019 class was virtually finished.
So while Grinch went out and helped reel in linebacker David Ugwoegbu in the February signing period, he mainly jumped hard on the 2020 class.
Wednesday, the Sooners’ first-year defensive coordinator gets a chance to seal his first big impact on the personnel for his defense.
Perhaps the biggest recruit Grinch helped haul in — both figuratively and literally — is junior college defensive tackle Perrion Winfrey.
Winfrey (6-foot 4, 305 pounds) starred the past two seasons at Iowa Western and is ranked as the No. 1-rated junior college player in the class, according to Rivals.com.
Winfrey said he was attracted to the Sooners because of Grinch’s aggressive approach to defense.
While the previous defense mostly used the line to set up players for the back end of the defense, Grinch’s one-gap look allows defensive lineman to aggressively make plays themselves. The one-gap system has defensive linemen responsible for a gap between offensive linemen instead of reacting one way or the other depending on what the offense does.
“They’re building a defense that attacks the ball — no playing blocks — and I love it,” Winfrey said.
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With the Sooners losing plenty on the interior of the defensive line after this season — Neville Gallimore, Marquise Overton and Dillon Faamatau are all seniors — there was a need for a ready-to-play newcomer in this class, and it appears the Sooners found that in Winfrey.
There will be virtually no experience coming back among the group.
At defensive tackle, LaRon Stokes and Jalen Redmond combined to start all but one game this season.
Jordan Kelley played in two games last season as a true freshman but has yet to see action in a game this season as he’s been injured most of the year.
It’s easy to be skeptical that Winfey could contribute immediately, though.
Over the last decade, the Sooners have signed five junior college defensive linemen. The two most productive have been Austin Roberts and Stokes, both of whom came from Northeastern Oklahoma A&M.
Stokes has made nine starts so far this season with 13 tackles in his initial season. Roberts started 10 games in his two seasons in Norman but played sparingly with no tackles in his first season in 2015.
Faamatau has played in 40 games with 31 total tackles in three seasons, though he has just six this season.
The other two were little-used. Both Quincy Russell (2013) and Chaz Nelson (2012) arrived with the expectation that they would contribute immediately. But Russell played in just two games as a Sooner while Nelson played in 13 games in 2013 after redshirting his first season at OU.
But not all of the Sooners’ eggs are in Winfrey’s basket. The Sooners also recently picked up a commitment from another juco defensive tackle, Joshua Ellison.