Striker, LBs ready to make impact for OU

No doubt the end of the 2012 season was disappointing for OU's defense, especially the linebackers. They're determined to make sure 2013 doesn't go the same way.

It would have been tough to blame Oklahoma sophomore linebacker Eric Striker if he had decided to bail from OU following his freshman season.

Everything he committed to and signed up for was essentially gone. What he knew about OU, what he was going to OU to do didn't really exist in 2012.

But when asked if he has ever felt any twinge of regret so far on his college decision, Striker said not a chance.

"No, not really," Striker said. "I wanted to come to Oklahoma just for this place anyway. And we're back to where I think the linebackers are doing what they should be doing. We're all good now."

Striker, originally from Seffner (Fla.) Armwood, committed to OU based on his strong relationship with former OU linebackers coach Brent Venables. A month before signing day, Venables accepted the defensive coordinator position at Clemson.

There were a lot of questions about what Striker would do, but he stayed consistent in saying he was sticking with the Sooners.

He might have the best name for a linebacker ever in Striker. Based on what he did in high school, it was his specialty to come in and strike on the opposition. That line of thinking might be coming back this season.

"I'll be coming off the edge more," Striker said. "It's what got me here. It's what I do. It's not really a surprise. I thought eventually coaches would make a change and get us more on the field. Whatever we're asked to do, we're going to do."

Last year that meant a lot of standing on the sidelines for the linebackers. Prolonged stretches of the season saw OU line up with one or two linebackers in the game, resorting to putting as many as seven defensive backs in at once.

It was a tough pill to swallow for guys like Corey Nelson, Frank Shannon and Striker. All the talk through camp has been about the strides Nelson has made in terms of being a leader, and it's clear Striker has made a jump as well.

"Striker. Striker is one of the best pass rushers," said running back Alex Ross about which linebacker gives him the most trouble in blocking drills. "He's just like a big guy, and he is strong."

Instead of getting down about things, the linebackers all came together as a group more than ever this summer. Striker said they never missed a day of workouts, and they all want a chance to erase last year's memories. Nelson will be leading that charge.

"I feel like I have a lot to prove since last year was a down year," Nelson said. "It's not even just me. It's the defense as a whole. We all have something to prove."

And the linebackers are just itching to get their chance Aug. 31.

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