Leadership for Oklahoma has manifested itself in many ways. One of them is with the go-to guys for the media. Beat writers sort of get a great feel of who they can talk to no matter what and who is not going to be afraid to speak their mind and give tremendous insight.
This time around it was linebacker Eric Striker, who awarded with the J.D. Runnels OU Media Cooperation Award last week as voted by the OU beat writers.
Striker, a team captain, wasn’t as much an interview as he was a conversation. He would ask questions to reporters just as much as we would to him. He kept it fresh, engaging and still delivered quality thought when asked upon.
Maybe it’s a silly award. It’s only in its second year as Zack Sanchez won the honor last year, but Striker appeared to be touched by the honor when talking about it last week.
“Like I said, I had to warm up to you guys,” Striker said. “I never thought really highly of the media. I really just thought you guys, you know, took stuff and ran with it and turned words. A lot of people obviously still do that. A lot of media still do that, obviously. But no, I really wasn’t into it.
“And I told myself, if I’ve got to do it, just why not be myself and have fun. That was the thing. I had to check myself. I just might as well be myself. If I’ve got to do it – it’s not like I can escape it. So let me just be myself.”
Striker first came into the interview room the 2013 season, and you could tell he wasn’t quite himself. He was still trying to figure it all out. There were glimpses of his personality but not too much.
So it came as a bit of a surprise when all of his teammates talked about his engaging personality and enthusiasm for life. That became clear in the last two years, though.
“I had to warm up to it, that’s all,” Striker said. “It’s been a good time the last two years.”
It wasn’t a shoo-in for Striker, which speaks more to the depth of quality kids. Striker edged Charles Tapper by one point, 24-23. Striker had seven first-place votes, while Tapper had four. Sooners Illustrated publisher voted Tapper No. 1. Ty Darlington rounded out the top three.
In the end, though, it was Striker’s openness that carried the day. It never felt like Striker had a bad day this year at OU because he was always willing to talk about things.
“I will talk to anybody I don’t know and just start a conversation,” Striker said. “I have done that in the past. People know I do do that. But if anybody want to stop me and have a conversation, I’m all for it. It’s always something to say, always something to come up with. I feel like I never run out of conversation.”