The two sides of Striker

Oklahoma linebacker intense on the field, comedian off of it

The image will be one most Oklahoma football fans won’t forget: Linebacker Eric Striker standing over Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron, his helmet in his hand roaring like a lion in celebration.

Striker’s game is rooted in intensity, rushing the passer with the focused intensity of a hunter closing in on its prey.

“People can say what they want to feel what they feel,” Striker said of this upcoming season. “I’m hungry. I’m out there to prove myself again. I have my own standards.”

While Striker, who is reminded often by the coaching staff of his Sugar Bowl incident that could have resulted in much worse than it did, embraces his intensity on the field, he’s a little different than that off the field.

In the linebacker room, he’s the jokester.

“He is one of those guys who is really witty, and he is quick on his toes,” fellow linebacker Geneo Grissom said. “He can motivate an entire team, let alone the defense.”

“He was like a ball of energy,” said defensive end Charles Tapper about his visit Oklahoma as a high school player – the same weekend as Striker. “He was saying how much he’s missed me. I was like, ‘You miss me? I don’t even know you.’ That's just the way he has always been. He hasn’t changed. You’re going to have fun with him.”

Striker wasn’t a class clown growing up. He knew when to cut his jokes to a limit. But his comedic side is just natural.

“It’s just my normal thing,” Striker said. “I make people laugh a lot of the time. It’s just what I do. I’ve been that way my whole life.”

Last year’s successes and the intensity he showed on the field at the Sugar Bowl haven’t change Striker. He and his teammates recognize the expectations of the pure pass rusher, especially after the stack of All-American honors continues to grow.

“He has a motor on the field, but mentally, he has a motor,” Grissom said of Striker’s quick wit. “He never stops, and he has a comeback for everything.”

He is building a pretty good second chapter of his career at Oklahoma. Last year, Striker totaled 6.5 sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss.

This year, he’s rounding out his skills at linebacker. He’s learning to drop in to coverage.

In the second scrimmage this fall, Quentin Hayes made a play on a pass that was tipped in the air. Striker grabbed the interception – he never had one last season. It turned into a Pick-6.

Striker was all business on that play.

There were no jokes. No celebratory moves. And definitely no helmet removal.

“I will never do that again,” Striker said.

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