How a Sooners RB legend helped land one of Oklahoma's top defensive linemen

Josh Ellison, who played defensive end at Blinn College in 2019, has transitioned to defensive tackle at OU thanks in part to former Sooners RB Quentin Griffin
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If you’re a college football recruiter, you never know who’s going to help you next.

In the case of defensive tackle Josh Ellison’s journey from Blinn College to Oklahoma last year, it was Quentin Griffin.

Who else?

Griffin, Sooner Nation’s spritely fan favorite from Bob Stoops’ early teams, is now the running backs coach at Blinn.

“He just kept telling me, ‘Stick with it, stick with it, stick with it,’ ” OU defensive line coach Calvin Thibodeaux said Monday. “It ended up working out for us.”

Said Ellison, “Q was actually a big help in getting me here. He used to tell me like how he used to play and how they treated him here and how things used to go for him. He told me to come visit and said I would love it. I came here. I loved it. He said the coaches, the players are like a family. That was one thing I was looking for, and it fit perfect with what I was looking for.”

Ellison was one of two junior college defensive tackles Thibodeaux signed last year. The other was Perrion Winfrey from Iowa Western Community College. They ranked 1-2 among juco d-line recruits in the 2020 class, and both made an impact on the Sooners’ run to a sixth straight Big 12 Conference crown.

In Ellison’s case, he played defensive end during his one season at Blinn, so he was essentially learning a new position. But that was OK, because he had done it before.

“I played inside in high school and then when I got to juco, I played d-end,” he said. “It was kind of a big transition (going back inside) because I didn’t get to play inside in juco. So it was different jumping to D-1 and moving inside going against bigger guys and stronger guys.”

All those bigger guys was Ellison’s biggest challenge.

“The bump-combos and things like that,” he said. “You have to hold your ground in there.”

Ellison has been practicing with the 1s this spring, Thibodeaux said. Actually, a lot of players have been practicing with the 1s because the unit’s depth — including another juco addition this year in Isaiah Coe — is better than it’s been in a decade.

But Ellison’s climb last season was steady, and coaches expect his career arc to continue upward.

“I’m excited about Josh,” Thibodeaux said. “He’s pretty easy to form a relationship with. I think his best football is ahead of him. He’s ran with the 1’s all spring and did a great job for us. So we’re really expecting big things out of him.”