Alvarez completes O-line circle

Utility interior lineman gained confidence from his first start at center

Shifting back over to his natural position, Oklahoma offensive lineman Jonathan Alvarez got a vote of confidence from his teammates even before kickoff against Tulsa.

Having bounced around from right guard to left guard during the past six months, Alvarez started at center against the Golden Hurricane. His teammates approached him as their leader.

“Even when I first got switched over, Ty and Nila came over and told me that it was my line now,” Alvarez said. “Even the guys on the line came over to me days before and said, ‘Whatever you say, we go with. You’re our center now. We do what you say.’”

Alvarez said that playing center, which offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh said was the sophomore’s natural position, will give him more confidence moving forward this season to help call out blocks once seniors Ty Darlington and Nila Kasitati returned.

“He’s at his natural position, and he did a pretty darn good job,” Bedenbaugh said. “He’s forced to play guard, right now. He’ll play both the rest of the way out. He did a nice job of getting us into the right calls and the right protections.”

There were times Saturday when Alvarez said he picked up a blitz or called a blocking audible that the Sooners’ didn’t go over extensively in practice or film during the week. It felt natural.

Alvarez started playing center first before switching to guard and then tackle in high school. He went back to guard at Oklahoma and complete the circle with his start at center against Tulsa.

“The only thing that changed was the mental aspect of it, knowing what I’m doing and telling everyone else what they’re doing too,” Alvarez said. “That’s the only thing that changed. . . . I’ve got a mental aspect of it, where I have to make sure everybody is on the same page.”

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