Top 10 Sooners: Defensive Line

SI Sooners ranks the top defensive linemen in the history of Oklahoma football.
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Lee Roy Selmon

Lee Roy Selmon

1. Lee Roy Selmon (1972-1975)

A name synonymous with Oklahoma football, Lee Roy Selmon is one of the greatest Sooners of all time regardless of position. Playing alongside his legendary brothers, Selmon anchored some of the best defenses in Oklahoma history in 1974 and 1975. Finishing his OU career with 335 total tackles, Selmon was named a consensus All-American in 1974 and 1975, and he won the Lombardi Trophy and the Outland Trophy in 1975. The youngest of nine siblings, Selmon rose from humble beginnings in Eufaula, OK, to be selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the No. 1-overall pick in the 1976 NFL Draft. Selmon made his mark in his nine-year NFL career, all played in Tampa Bay, and he was the first Sooner to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1995.

Tommie Harris

Tommie Harris

2. Tommie Harris (2001-2003)

From his first snap on Owen Field, Tommie Harris was a problem. Throwing aside North Carolina center Adam Metts, Harris flattened running back Willie Parker in the backfield. The 5-star defensive tackle from Killeen, TX, immediately introduced himself to the Oklahoma fanbase, where he would terrorize Big 12 offenses for three seasons. Finishing his Oklahoma career with 34 tackles for loss, Harris was a finalist for the Lombardi Award in his sophomore season, and went on to win the award as a junior in 2003. The 6-foot-3, 295-pound tackle overpowered all challengers, and was drafted with the No. 15-pick in the 2004 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears. In his eight-year NFL career, Harris made three Pro Bowls, logging 231 total tackles, 56 tackles for loss and 31.5 sacks.

Tony Casillas

Tony Casillas

3. Tony Casillas (1981-1985)

Coming to OU from Tulsa, Tony Casillas would leave as one of the most decorated defensive lineman in program history. An essential part of Oklahoma’s 1985 National Championship winning team, Casillas was named a consensus All-American in 1984 and 1985, and was named the National Defensive Lineman of the Year by UPI in 1984. Winning the Lombardi Award in 1985, Casillas finished his OU career with 18 sacks, catching the eye of the Atlanta Falcons who selected him second overall in the 1986 NFL Draft. His championship pedigree wouldn’t stop at Oklahoma, as he helped the Dallas Cowboys win back-to-back Super Bowls in 1993 and 1994. Casillas finished his 12-year NFL career with 23 sacks and 10 forced fumbles. Casillas was enshrined into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2004.

Gerald McCoy 

Gerald McCoy 

4. Gerald McCoy (2006-2009)

Unlike Harris, Gerald McCoy took a little bit to get onto the field for the Sooners. But once he did, he quickly blossomed into a star along the defensive front. After redshirting in 2006, McCoy earned All-Big 12 Freshman honors in 2007. In his sophomore and junior seasons, McCoy was a national force, being named All-American in both seasons. Racking up 33 tackles for loss and 14.5 sacks for the Sooners, McCoy was selected third overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2010 NFL Draft. In his decade in the league, McCoy has been named an All-Pro four times, and been voted into six Pro Bowls. McCoy is currently a free agent, hoping to return for his 11th season after a quad injury forced him to miss the entire 2020 season.

Rick Bryan

Rick Bryan 

5. Rick Bryan (1980-1983)

A product of Coweta High School, Rick Bryan left OU as one of the most productive defensive lineman in program history. Bryan started for the Sooners from 1981-1983, where he was a three-time All-Big Eight selection. He was named an All-American in 1982 and 1983, and he left the Sooners as the all time leading tackler amongst defensive lineman, finishing his OU career with 365 tackles. In 1984, the Atlanta Falcons drafted Bryan with the No. 9 overall pick, where Bryan would spend his entire NFL career. After posting 29 sacks for the Falcons, Bryan retired back to Coweta.

Granville Liggins (far right)

Granville Liggins (far right)

6. Granville Liggins (1965-1967)

A product of Tulsa, Granville Liggins’ skills as a standout wrestler helped him dominate on the gridiron. Named an All-American and All-Big Eight selection twice, Liggins was the first Black player at Oklahoma to earn All-American honors. In 1967, Liggins finished seventh in the Heisman Trophy race and was named the UPI Defensive Lineman of the Year. After his OU career, Liggins opted to join the Canadian Football League, where he would play for 11 seasons. A CFL All-Star in 1971 and 1976, Liggins helped the Calgary Stampeders win the Grey Cup in 1971.

Cedric Jones against the Cardinals

Cedric Jones

7. Cedric Jones (1992-1995)

Crossing the Red River from Houston, Cedric Jones left OU as a record holder. In his junior season in 1994, Jones terrorized the Texas Tech Red Raiders, getting to the quarterback five times, still a school record. He would finish the 1994 season with 14 sacks in total, also a record, and he finished his career with 31.5 sacks and 46.5 tackles for loss. In the 1996 NFL Draft, the New York Giants selected Jones, who would play in the Big Apple for five seasons. Jones totaled 151 tackles and 15 sacks for the Giants, and helped the franchise earn a Super Bowl Berth. Unfortunately for Jones, an injury cut his playing career short, where he then transitioned into the role of scout for the Los Angeles Rams organization.

Reggie Kinlaw

Reggie Kinlaw

8. Reggie Kinlaw (1975-1978)

Coming to the Sooners from Miami Springs, FL, Reggie Kinlaw wrapped up his college career as a two-time All-American. Always rising to the occasion, Kinlaw balled out in his home state in the three Orange Bowls he participated in. Logging 11 tackles in both the 1978 and 1979 Orange Bowls, Kinlaw was inducted into the Orange Bowl Hall of Fame in 2015. After his career at OU, Kinlaw was drafted in the 12th round of the 1979 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders. Fighting for his spot on the team, Kinlaw would become and integral part of the Raider defense in the 1980’s, helping the Silver and Black capture the 1980 and 1983 Super Bowls. Kinlaw started in 57 of his 98 games with the Raider organization.

Dewey Selmon, Lee Roy Selmon

Dewey and Lee Roy Selmon

9. Dewey Selmon (1972-1975)

The middle brother of the historic Selmon trio at Oklahoma, Dewey Selmon arrived at Oklahoma and grew into a star. Racking up over 100 tackles as a member of the National Championship-winning defenses in 1974 and 1975, Selmon was named an All-American alongside his brother Lee Roy. In 1976, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted Dewey in the second round, keeping together the 1-2 Selmon punch which had paid dividends for Oklahoma. In 2012, Dewey Selmon was inducted into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame.

Kelly Gregg

Kelly Gregg

10. Kelly Gregg (1995-1998)

Edmond product Kelly Gregg was one of the bright spots of an otherwise down era in Oklahoma history. Despite drawing interest from Oklahoma State as a wrestler, Gregg ended up in Norman to plug holes in the defensive line for the Sooners. What ensued would be one of the most productive careers in Sooner history. Gregg left Norman third in career tackles for loss (53.0), 15th in tackles (319) and 12th in sacks (19.0). After getting drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in sixth round of the 1999 NFL Draft, Gregg eventually landed with the Baltimore Ravens where he would become an established part of one of the NFL’s best defenses. Gregg finished his NFL career with 512 tackles and 19.5 sacks.