Parker Graham: Wickline Will Be Missed

Recent Oklahoma State former player Parker Graham just finished his days playing in orange and black in the Cotton Bowl against Missouri and earned All-Big 12 honors in his senior season. Saturday he played in an all-star game in South Carolina, but he was hearing a lot of talk about his position coach, Joe Wickline, departing Stillwater to coach with Charlie Strong at Texas, so he called him up.

"I just got back from South Carolina and played in the Medal of Honor Bowl," explained Graham. "I had fun playing and there were guys from all over the country there.

"(OSU teammate) Shamiel Gary, one of our own, was in there. Casey Pachall of TCU was one of the quarterbacks on my team. I was hearing a lot of talk, so I called Coach Wick and at the time he didn't know anything. Brandon (Webb) and I knew from all the stories that Wick had told us about Charlie Strong we knew that he might wind up at Texas.

"It was a lot of fun playing in front of the (NFL) scouts," Graham continued on the all-star game he played in. "I got a lot of exposure and met a lot of contacts and a ton of scouts. I interviewed with 12 of the 16 teams represented there."

Graham added that he was able to transition to an offense that his coach in the game, NFL veteran Chan Gailey, brought in. Graham credited Wickline on that front too.

"You know with Wick (Wickline) there were a lot more words in a single play than I'm used to but picking up on it was real easy, and coming from the offense that I came from here and the kind of guy Wick was it gave me a boost in learning the offense fast," added Graham of the conversion to NFL terminology.

Graham, who came to Oklahoma State from Missouri high school powerhouse Webb City, was not a highly rated recruit coming out of high school. But he has started most of three seasons and has been a standout performer on the offensive line. Like many of the OSU line graduates he credits Wickline for his improvement.

"In Wick we trust has been the theme coming from Stillwater for the last nine years and rightfully so," Graham said if his former coach. "He has done a tremendous job and has really been one of the keys to the success of this program over the years. It's going to be a big loss.

"He is an old school guy and that is definitely the best way to explain him," Graham added. "He is in your face, he's a guy that expects your best at all times and if you don't give it to him then he is going to let you know about it.

"At the same time, there is nobody that I would have rather played for, and seeing all that I have I know how much further along than I am than a lot of those other guys that I played in that bowl game with. I've seen that my technique is way above average for what other offensive linemen are. That is due to him and how hard he pushed us in the offensive line."

Graham said that while Wickline could be hard, even brutal, at times in practice and in meetings with his coaching manner, he knew what approach to use and when.

"He was the most cool, calm and collected guy in crunch time," Graham described. "He might be in your face the entire game, but in the time where the game was on the line he was always calm and collected and he will say this is what we have to do and this is what we have to focus on."

Asked about a Wickline story, Graham told one that quite accurately portrays not just Wickline but many college assistant coaches. Assistant coaches are like hired guns and they are brought into do a job and do it well. That is how some coaches can coach against friends, or against their alma mater. It is a job and the emotion isn't always present like it is with fans. In fact, it is best that it isn't.

"He always told us that he was a contractor, you know like with a building, and that wherever he was told to lay the concrete he said that was what he did," Graham said. "My job is to take you guys and prepare you to play the way we need you to play. That is what I do."

Now he will be doing it for the Texas Longhorns.

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