Left tackle at Oklahoma: It’s one of the most high-profile positions in all of college football.
The list of great players is long. Lane Johnson, Trent Williams, Phil Loadholt, Davin Joseph and Jamaal Brown have all gone from the cornerstone of the Sooners’ offensive line to a long and prestigious professional careers under Bob Stoops.
They aren’t the only ones, either – just the best.
Tyrus Thompson might be the next on that list, having started for three seasons and likely to be a middle round pick in the NFL Draft.
Now, it’s up to Josiah St. John, who will have just one season to prove that he belongs. In such an elite class.
“It’s a very big responsibility,” St. John said. “The left tackles here have been very good. I’m next in line. I can’t drop the ball. I have to be the next pillar.”
After a two-year starting career with Trinity Valley Community College, the Canadian import thought he would catch a redshirt in his first year on campus. In fact, he kind of wanted one.
Had St. John not redshirted last season, he would have been right out the door with Thompson, Daryl Williams and Adam Shead. Instead, he has one year to make his mark, and he’s been getting good reviews from his coaches.
“There’s a lot of pressure, but I feel like I can handle it,” St. John said. “I go out there playing hard, knowing what I’m doing and the rest will take care of itself.”
In the closest thing he’s had to a game atmosphere, St. John’s first impression during Saturday’s spring game wasn’t the best. On the first drive, he was called for a holding penalty.
From there though, he did a sufficient job keeping the quartet of Oklahoma quarterbacks standing upright. Quarterbacks couldn’t be tackled in the game, but they had time to throw. St. John even held his own in a few one-on-one battles against top linebacker Eric Striker.
“All of them can rush, every single one of them can rush,” St. John said of the front seven on defense. “. . . It can be a pretty difficult thing.”
Walking on to campus, St. John was a bulky 317 pounds. He cut weight down to 281, hoping to get a little more athletic, but then built back up to almost 310 pounds.
His 6-foot-6 frame had to learn to hold the weight.
He noticed his body changing, getting stronger, and said he is far more physical than when he first joined the Sooners. At that point, St. John had never been a back-up before either.
On campus just before the start of fall camp, St. John needed a redshirt year to learn everything he could. Instead of just being a depth lineman last season, St. John will be Oklahoma’s starting left tackle this year.
He seems to be ready for the challenge.
“Overall, I would be ready for this year, to be that kind of stepping stone for the next tackles coming up,” he said.