In 2020, the engine of the Texas Longhorns defense was Joseph Ossai, a third-round runner who led the team with 16 tackles per loss and five sacks.
Ossai’s early exit to the NFL and lack of depth of return to the position put pressure on new head coach Steve Sarkisian to make incidents to face the race after the Longhorns tied for 93rd place. national in sacks per game, even with Ossai.
Sarkisian and his staff quickly got the move to LSU Ray Thornton and then Alabama the Ben Davis and Notre Dame the Ovie Oghoufo.
On Thursday, when asked who stood out on the sidelines, Sarkisian praised Oghoufo for his work on the preseason.
“I think the only one who jumped on me was Ovie,” Sarkisian said. “He is a physical boy, explosive, he plays hard. He’s smart. He has a great work ethic, so he’s probably the first guy to jump. “
Sarkisian recognized Thornton and Davis, but both are super big who, despite being very well ranked outside of high school, never produced much on the Baton Rouge and Tuscaloosa talent lists. Since Thornton arrived, most of the praise he has received has been about his work ethic and leadership (in fact, both key attributes as Sarkisian builds the culture of the program) and less about his impact on the field, which was minimal in the Orange-White game.
So there isn’t much reason to expect Thornton and Davis to suddenly impact players for the first time in their college careers.
Like Thornton and Davis, Oghoufo came to Texas with limited production in his three years at Notre Dame. He dressed in red in 2018 and then played in moderation during his last two seasons with the Fighting Irish, recording 2.5 sacks in 20 games. In 2020, the 6.3, 237 pounds served as a backup for Daelin Hayes, a multi-year incumbent who received an additional year of eligibility after a shoulder injury at the end of the 2019 season .
With three years of eligibility remaining, there is some downside to taking advantage of Oghoufo, and while his highlights at Notre Dame are limited, Oghoufo’s overall image as an athlete supports Sarkisian’s statements. He looks opposite and explosive at the edge, showing signs of violence with his hands and evidence of a strong engine. In coverage, he has athletics to turn and run with runners.
Sarkisian expressed his confidence in the core of veteran players in the final and defensive positions, a group that includes another super senior, Jacoby Jones, but among the three transfers, Oghoufo is the best bet to play regularly this season.