You could look at every unit of Oklahoma’s defense and know who that leader was. Charles Tapper ran the line. Eric Striker was the voice of the linebackers and maybe the whole defense. Zack Sanchez controlled the secondary.
Defensive line coach Calvin Thibodeaux has been brought in during an interesting time in that regard. Who is the leader of his group?
The answer being uttered time and time again remains defensive tackle Matthew Romar.
“He’s like that alpha dog,” Thibodeaux said. “When I want to get a message to the guys, he’s the guy. He’s the guy that they listen to, that they follow. There’s nothing fake about him. He’s real. He has the guys like that. When he says something, it’s done. It’s the respect he’s earned at the University of Oklahoma.”
For those who have followed Romar’s career, it sounds a little puzzling. Never a vocal recruit from Port Arthur, Texas. And his first couple of years in Norman have been marked by stellar play on the field but nothing that indicated leadership off of it.
Leadership is something that can’t be forced. It can’t be contrived or people see right through it and lose the locker room. Thibodeaux knows he can’t make Romar be that guy, but he’s hoping Romar will want to be that guy.
“I asked him about being a leader, stepping out of his comfort zone,” Thibodeaux said. “You know, watch his tape and see you can get your job done, but now I need you to help other guys and bring other guys along. I think Tapper was that guy for the DLine in that role last year. He’s still growing in that role.”
Romar has always been undersized but his ability has put him where he’s at right now heading into his redshirt junior season.
Thibodeaux said he has seen it before where there have been questions about the leaders. You can’t but in and make your selection. During the course of camp, it usually works itself out. Thibodeaux remembers the guys during his days.
“When we were here, we had alpha dogs,” Thibodeaux said. “Whether it was Tommie (Harris) or Dusty (Dvoracek) or Dan Cody. But you got to have that alpha dog. When he speaks, everybody else listens and follows.”
Is Romar ready, willing and able to be that guy for OU in 2016?