MIAMI — Although the number of experienced players returning along the Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College Golden Norseman defensive front line sits at six, several talented freshmen are poised to fill certain gaps during the organized team activities slated for the month of July.
Returning to anchor the defensive end positions are sophomore Cade Baumann, redshirt Yacht Jones and transfer Nick Dawson.
Baumann (6-4, 220 from Walters) appeared in all 10 games as a freshman and recorded seven unassisted tackles and eight assists. He also made two quarterback sacks for minus-15 yards with one forced fumble.
Jones (6-3, 220 from Warner Robins, Georgia, Northside) received a redshirt as a freshman and sat out the season.
Dawson (6-3, 250 from the Eagles Landing Christian Academy of McDonough, Georgia) had offers from Louisville, Cincinnati, Indiana, Marshall, Syracuse and Virginia after graduation.
He was ranked as the No. 85 defensive end in the nation by Scout Recruiting.
Challenging at the defensive tackle spots are Isaiah Johnson and Forrest Merrill.
Johnson (6-4, 300 from Warner Robins, Georgia) received a medical redshirt during the 2016 season.
During his freshman season in 2015, Johnson made 26 solo tackles and 27 assists in nine games. He recorded three quarterback sacks for minus-19 yards, one forced fumble and one recovered, one interception and one deflected pass.
Merrill (6-1, 320 from Willard, Missouri) spent one season as a redshirt with the Bears of Missouri State in Springfield. He also played offensive tackle in high school.
Freshmen recruits expected to battle for playing time include Devon Bajek, from Tulsa Union; AJ Barnett, from Putnam City West; Robert Clay IV, from Putnam City; Jordan Dawson, from Southmoore and Keiondre Hall, from Columbia, Missouri.
Other freshmen defensive front signees are Maverick McCaskill, from Davis; Trey MedicineBear, from El Reno; Octavius Morris, from Homerville, Georgia; LaRon Stokes, from Tulsa NOAH, and DeAndre Williams, from Bartlesville.