OU Countdown: Eric Striker

Linebacker as become the leader of the Sooners' defense

During the next two months leading up to the Big 12 Media Days in Dallas, Sooners Illustrated will breakdown the Oklahoma Sooners’ roster, starting with Dominique Alexander (No. 1 on the roster) and working all the way down to Dwayne Orso (No. 99) and the incoming freshmen.

We’ll look at last year’s performance, the best-case scenario for this season – without projecting injuries – and what each player means to the short-term or long-term success of the Sooners.

No. 19 – LB Eric Striker (6-foot-0, 223 pounds)

68 tackles, 17 tackles for loss, 9 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries, 5 PBUs

What happened last year: Striker rolled up plenty of honors, including a pair of All-American nominations – to the third team – and a first-team All-Big 12 selection by six different parties. He was scary at times and increased his statistical output in every category for the second year in a row. The only knock on Striker was that in the biggest of games, he was arguably contained. Striker finished with six or more tackles in each of the final five games, including 12 tackles against Clemson. But he finished without a sack in only two Big 12 games – losses to Kansas State and Baylor.

Level of importance for Sooners (1-10): 10. Either Striker or cornerback Sanchez: The debate will rage as to who is more important. To make it very clear, both are vitally important to Oklahoma this coming season. It would seem difficult for Striker to give more to the Sooners, and maybe his increased contribution isn’t on the stat sheet. He developed this spring as the leader that Oklahoma will need. It didn’t have many last season. Now, it does. Double-digit sack totals would definitely help, too.

Best-case scenario for this season: If all goes right for Striker – and by relation Oklahoma – this season, he won’t have to wait past the second day for his name to be called in the 2016 NFL Draft. He’ll be a no-doubt All-American and a semifinalist for the Butkus Award. Striker picks up a dozen sacks and even an interception as he helps Oklahoma become the surprise of the Big 12 Conference, staying in the race for the conference title down to the last week. He proves that he’s more than just a pass-rush specialist.

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