Bob Przybylo/Scout

Oklahoma Sooners Jonathan Alvarez is stepping into a key leadership role at center

Center is the next in a long line of skilled and bright leaders

NORMAN – Sliding over one spot on the offensive line to play center was never going to be Jonathan Alvarez's problem. He played center in high school and as a freshman. He has always taken reps at center in practice, so it was an easy transition.

The much tougher part will be following in the footsteps of Ty Darlington and Gabe Ikard, two players who could get game plan for the week Monday morning and be ready to teach it that afternoon. Oklahoma offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh has never had two players as smart as those two.

And now, Alvarez is next.

“I don’t really see it as who was in front of me,” Alvarez said. “I know what I have to do to improve myself no matter who was before me. . . .  As for the pressure of who came before me, I don’t really think about it.”

Alvarez isn’t worried. Bedenbaugh believes Alvarez will get to the point of his predecessor’s mentally – if he isn’t already there physically. And a handful of his teammates, who are battling for two vacant interior line spots, love having him at center.

Junior college transfer Ben Powers said he can as Alvarez any question, and Alvarez will be there to answer it. Cody Ford, who is the frontrunner to start at left guard, knows the benefit of having Alvarez by his side.

Alvarez played left guard for much of last season.

“Center is probably the most important position on our offense, period,” Oklahoma left tackle Orlando Brown said. “I feel like Jon has stepped up in that like Ty and those guys have done in the past. He’s doing what he can to lead all of us when we get out there – leading by example. He’s doing a great job.”

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