Isaiah Thomas, having "gained confidence," finally making a productive dent for Sooners

Oklahoma defensive coordinator Alex Grinch called Thomas "the MVP of the defense" in Wednesday press conference
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Neville Gallimore moved on to the NFL.

Kenneth Mann, Marquise Overton and Dillon Faamatau graduated.

Ronnie Perkins' suspension status is still the most baffling conundrum in the Big 12.

The Sooners needed someone to step up as a versatile and disruptive presence on the defensive line, and they appear to have found that player in Isaiah Thomas.

Through the Sooners' first five games of the 2020 campaign, Thomas has been a consistent problem for opposing linemen. He's recorded 4.5 tackles for loss (1.5 sacks), a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery. In fact, Alex Grinch went so far as to call the Tulsa Memorial product "the MVP of the defense" on Wednesday.

“Isaiah’s put in the work. I’m really happy for Isaiah," said Nik Bonitto. “He’s sneaky athletic, and a lot of people think just because you’re big, you can’t come around the edge like that. Isaiah’s really athletic for his size and his weight, and that’s just because of the work he put in all summer and all quarantine. You see the results now.”

Thomas, a redshirt junior, already has more total tackles this season (13) than he previously did over his entire career as a Sooner (11). Whether he's lined up at defensive end or defensive tackle, he's simply taken advantage of every chance he's been given. Thomas' ability to play all over the defensive line has certainly been a huge factor in his continually high snap count.

"He had the opportunity with some attrition and, some of the things that we have already mentioned, where opportunity presented itself in fall camp to get more reps," said Alex Grinch. "It’s also the ability as a worker. He’s a team guy and has the opportunity to play a couple of different spots. I think he’s gained confidence from that, both on the interior of the defensive line and on the edge. What you've seen is him make an impact where we put him."

Thomas will be crucial in the Sooners' effort to contain Texas Tech star running back Sarodorick Thompson this Saturday in Lubbock. Thompson, a redshirt sophomore, has turned 64 carries into 350 yards and five scores this season.

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