OU Player to Watch: Eric Striker

Disruptive, Florida-grown linebacker will need to be at the top of his game

There has been a big smile on Oklahoma linebacker Eric Striker’s face these past couple of days.

It would best serve the Sooners if he kept that grin on his face – maybe with his particular determined smirk as well.

With all the talk about Clemson’s talented defense, it’s easy to overlook the one player who might make the biggest difference. There is no single player on Oklahoma’s roster the Russell Athletic Bowl more capable of changing the game than.

Striker is back home, and with a massive stage and a big spotlight, he’ll need to be at his best for the Sooners.

“I'm sure it'll be exciting for them to be back there closer to relatives and friends to be around,” Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said of Striker and the rest of the Sooners’ roster that grew up in Florida. “ . . It's a fantastic experience and a great place and playing an excellent opponent so it'll be exciting for them.”

Statistically, this hasn’t been the year Striker had hoped it would be before the season kicked off. That mirrors Oklahoma’s feeling on the whole situation as well.

Even so, Striker has shown his brilliance at times. He’s unstoppable one-on-one, registered a team-high 7.5 sacks and earned just as many for his teammates.

Striker has been psychotically disruptive, and he’ll need to be once again. There’s an even greater need for that with the possibility of the NFL looming in his near future.

“That's an important part of it because regardless of what's out there, people who want to be the analysts, they don't really now,” Stoops said of the draft evaluation process. “There's been evidence of that every year. So let's get the people who do it, their opinion, then to me, we have more discussions.”

A great bowl game for Striker could go a long way for Oklahoma as well.

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