NORMAN – It’s just a few feet, but it’s an entirely different world when Dru Samia slides just a few feet from right tackle to right guard.
It’s a change from patience to tenacity. It’s run-first over primarily pass blocking. It’s dealing with massive defensive tackles and getting to the second level instead of quick feet and slowing down the opponent’s top pass rusher.
There’s a lot less glamour playing guard as opposed to tackle. Samia isn’t worried about that. It’s a position that he has never played in game action. Samia it’s too worried about that either.
“It’s not a big deal,” Samia said. “Best five guys on the field. If me going down to guard is what it takes, it’s what we’ve got to do.”
Being quick to study made Samia the first true freshman to start at tackle in Oklahoma Sooners football history. And he’s got a strong base to be a stout right guard, if he makes the move inside.
Samia has added 30 pounds to his once slender frame and is no longer lean compared to his defensive line foes. He learned a lesson from Nila Kasitati, who played next to Samia for all of last season, about being nasty off the ball and taking a new mentality when it comes to playing guard.
Samia’s uncle, Gilbert, has been a big help too. He had helped Samia’s first year by teaching the young tackle how to approach the game mentally and working with key drills. This season, he’s giving Samia a few extra lessons on playing guard, where he played in college.
“Working this whole guard technique and the guard mentality, it was really easy for him to get me into going now,” Samia said. “He told me that guard is a completely different game from tackle, mentally.”
And Samia is learning just how different it is.
Samia has worked at four different positions during the last two years. The coaching staff approached Samia at the beginning of summer workouts about playing summer. It wasn’t much of a discussion, but he was ready for the challenge.
“It’s just every day,” Samia said. “It’s little battles that you have to win. You walk away from practice thinking, ‘I could have done this better or I could have done this better.’ You just have to focus on one thing, one day and get better at it.”