NORMAN — The next evolution for Oklahoma’s defense is under way. It’s spent two seasons tinkering to get as much speed on the field as possible.
The ability to run remains at a premium. But adding bulk — especially at outside linebacker — has been an emphasis this spring.
The Sooners inked junior college outside linebacker Devante Bond in January and seem satisfied with the results. Another interesting move has been moving Geneo Grissom from defensive end to outside linebacker.
The hope is Grissom, who was the Sugar Bowl’s most valuable defensive player as down a lineman, can make the move to a standup defender.
“Geneo is very athletic,” OU coach Bob Stoops said. “Heck, if you put him on a basketball team he’d be playing for somebody. He’s very athletic. It really fits him well. He’s done a very good job with it.”
Grissom’s potential is something the coaching staff has tried to unlock for several seasons. He moved back and forth between defensive end and tight end during the 2012 season and didn’t really settle into the defensive end spot until the end of last season.
The Sugar Bowl was Grissom’s breakout performance with 21⁄2 sacks and two fumble recoveries, including the 8-yard return for a touchdown that sealed the victory over Alabama.
But at 257 pounds, Grissom’s professional future is likely as a linebacker. It was one reason he fully embraced the move. The other is getting to go nose-to-nose with tight ends instead of offensive tackles on most downs.
“I’ll be mostly lined up against tight ends. Those guys definitely don’t weigh 300 pounds so I think I’ll have the advantage there,” he said.
Besides, Grissom has never been one against learning new things. He embraced the linebacker role with his typical enthusiasm.