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OU football: Neville Gallimore making smooth transition to nose tackle

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Neville Gallimore

Junior defensive lineman Neville Gallimore speaks to reporters during OU Media Day on July 22.

The anchor of a defense lies in the middle of the trenches.

Oklahoma junior defensive lineman Neville Gallimore has spent the last two seasons playing defensive end in the Sooners' three-man front. He spent his time trying to maneuver around long, athletic guards and tackles. 

This offseason, he moved inside to the nose tackle position. His strength, explosiveness and speed could cause more issues with thicker, stronger interior offensive linemen, and it's where he has been the most comfortable. 

"Not that he couldn't play the other position, but he feels so much more comfortable playing the nose," said Ruffin McNeill, assistant head coach and defensive tackles. "Like I mentioned earlier, last year was the first time he got as many reps and played as much. I think he's matured — football was all new to him."

Gallimore came to Oklahoma as the 83rd best prospect (four-star) and the ninth-best defensive tackle in the country in the 2015 class. The expectations were high, but growing up in Canada, he had a lot to learn.

The Canadian native showed up in Norman without being fine-tuned like many defensive linemen raised in Texas, the southeast and California — places where high school football is at a premium. Gallimore had a lot to learn about the nuances of playing American football. 

Three seasons into his career as a Sooner and now a position change later, the junior nose tackle has grown into a player ready to make an impact this season.

"I feel like I've definitely matured," Gallimore said. "Understanding just not only my position but just the position of all the (defensive linemen) and understanding I'm a guy who's been here since 2015. 

"I feel like I've definitely grown, definitely matured, and I feel like I'm ready to show what I've been working on during this offseason coming into the season."

Gallimore is expected to be the anchor of Oklahoma's defense. 

The transition inside means he will be taking on more blocks, taking more direct routes to sack the quarterback and using that size, speed and explosiveness to wreak havoc for opposing offensive linemen. 

He was listed as one of the most athletic freaks in college football. The expectations for him are high once again, and even with the difficulty of a position change, the junior is ready for the opportunity presented to him. 

"Playing the defensive line, it wasn't really that hard of a transition because you understand the mentality," Gallimore said. "You still got to be aggressive at the point of attack. I mean, just any opportunity I have to make the team better. The coaches put me there, I found an opportunity, and I just ran with it."

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