Oklahoma's Nik Bonitto tops PFF list

Pro Football Focus ranks Bonitto as college football's best returning defensive lineman in 2021
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Pro Football Focus’ admiration of Oklahoma’s Nik Bonitto continued this week.

PFF’s Anthony Treash named Bonitto as college football’s No. 1 returning defensive lineman in 2021.

“Bonitto might be the most underrated player in all of college football,” Treash wrote. “The rush-end led all FBS edge defenders in pass-rush grade (93.6), pass-rush win rate (28%) and pressure rate generated (25.7%) in 2020. Among all Power Five edge defenders we have data on since we began grading college seven years ago, Bonitto ranks in the top five in all three metrics.”

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Previously, Pro Football Focus rated OU quarterback Spencer Rattler as the No. 1 returning quarterback, wide receiver Marvin Mims as the No. 6 returning receiver, and running back Kennedy Brooks as the No. 3 returning running back.

As a third-year sophomore from Fort Lauderdale, FL, Bonitto was second among OU defenders last season with 10.5 tackles for loss and 8.0 quarterback sacks. The 6-foot-3, 238-pound Bonitto had two sacks against Texas and three against Kansas. 

Playing OU's rush linebacker position (a stand-up defensive end), he had at least a half-sack in six of OU’s last seven games and last five in a row — every game after Ronnie Perkins’ return on the other edge of the line.

“Bonitto’s explosiveness and athleticism caused headaches for every offensive tackle he faced,” Treash wrote, “and no lineman succeeded in shutting him down in 2020. His lowest win rate in a single game this past year sat at 17.6% — a pretty solid day for most FBS edge rushers.”