Hite: No. 5 OU spring question - offensive line leadership?

Who will become the new leaders on the offensive line?

Oklahoma opens spring practice on March 5 with the annual Red-White game set for April 9.

The Sooners will also hold pro day on March 9 for all departing players. But there are questions abound regarding the Sooners’ outlook for next year. Even coming off an 11-2 season, the Big 12 championship and a berth in the College Football Playoff, the Sooners still have holes that need to be filled.

Over the next week, Sooners Illustrated’s Justin Hite and Bob Przybylo take a look at five major questions surrounding Oklahoma. Here’s one of Hite’s most pressing questions:

Who becomes the leader/leaders on the offensive line?

Regardless of opinion on the skill level of Ty Darlington and Nila Kasitati, it’s not debatable whether or not they were effective leaders, especially Darlington. The pair was crucial in helping three first-time starters develop in what most fans expect to be the core of the line for at least the next two years.

The offensive line will yet again be starting three players at new positions, although Jonathan Alvarez started 10 games last year. He’ll likely be switching from left guard to center, a natural position of leadership for the Sooners.

Dru Samia is another obvious choice, having started the season opener and eight other games down the final stretch of the season. Veterans raved about his work ethic and mental approach to the game. Orlando Brown is likely going to be a multi-year starter at left tackle. But those are the only three remaining.

Who starts at guard is still a question. There are more than six players vying for two spots: Cody Ford, Ashton Julious, Andy Dalton, Ben Powers, Jamal Danley and even more.

But there’s no clear leader in that pack either yet.

It seems as though Alvarez has been groomed for the leadership role and center spot. He has as much starting experience as just about anybody on the line. Brown and Samia will likely play a role too. It’ll probably be a lead-by-committee kind of group, but it’ll be interesting to watch if anyone steps forward and takes a gigantic leap before the season.

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