OU football practice

OU's defensive coordinator Alex Grinch during practice, Monday, April 1, 2019, at Owen Field. (Kyle Phillips / The Transcript)

NORMAN — Oklahoma picked up its first 2020 defensive line commitment Wednesday.

And it was a big one.

Perrion Winfrey, a defensive tackle from Iowa Western Community College, pledged to the Sooners in a tweet. He is the nation’s top 2020 JUCO defensive tackle and No. 5 JUCO prospect overall, according to 247sports.

At his listed 6-4, 305 pounds Winfrey would be OU’s biggest current defensive lineman discounting Michael Thompson, who signed on defense but has moved to the offensive line.

Winfrey is OU's 11th 2020 commitment, but the most impactful defensive addition after spurning offers from Alabama, Florida, Texas and LSU among others.

The Sooners have prioritized getting better bodies up front, which was one reason Ruffin McNeill was brought aboard two seasons ago as an experienced coach and recruiter on the defensive line. Though he's since been moved to outside linebackers, Calvin Thibodeaux has drawn good reviews overseeing the line.

New defensive coordinator Alex Grinch has made it a focus too.

“Give Calvin Thibodeaux a lot of credit,” OU coach Lincoln Riley said last December on signing day, less than a month before Grinch’s hire. “We've really backed up two really nice defensive line classes here back to back. We said that, whatever it was, 18 months ago, that recruiting that position was gonna be a priority. That we'd been good there but we have to get back to being elite there. I think these two classes are a big step in that direction.”

After next season, the Sooners will replace defensive tackles Dillon Faamatau, Neville Gallimore and Marquise Overton.

Assuming no departures, Winfrey would join three four-star 2019 defensive end prospects — Marcus Stripling, Marcus Hicks and Joseph Wete — along with current players LaRon Stokes (DT), Ronnie Perkins (DE), Jalen Redmond (DE), Isaiah Thomas (DE) and Jordan Kelley (DT) in the defensive line rotation.

Winfrey will be a junior with two years eligibility remaining when he arrives to campus. As a freshman at Iowa Western he recorded four sacks, 10 tackles for loss and two pass deflections.

He’s focused on improving those numbers.

“I still do have a lot on my plate,” Winfrey wrote in a post announcing his commitment, “but I don’t play with my food so that’s no problem.”

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