Lepak's Journey to Bedlam '09

NORMAN, Okla. -- As a kid, OU junior and walk-on offensive lineman Brian Lepak followed the Bedlam rivalry closely.

"You know, I grew up watching Oklahoma football," OU walk-on center Brian Lepak said. "I grew up the week of Thanksgiving, two days after Thanksgiving, watching the Oklahoma State game, and sometimes they changed the date, but, you know, that's what I grew up watching as a kid."

So now, it's only fitting that the 6-foot-4, 275 lb. lineman from Claremore, Okla. is set to make his first ever start in a Sooners uniform against the Cowboys when they meet at 11:30 a.m. this Saturday at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.

"The Oklahoma State game, the Texas game, those are just very big special deals, and so it does make it a little more special for Oklahoma State to be the first start," Lepak said.

It's even more special considering his story.

Lepak's a guy that had scholarship offers out of high school from schools such as TCU, Tulsa and Colorado State, but he also could have walked on immediately at OU.

"Coming out of high school I was confronted with some tough decisions on whether or not to come here out of high school and walk on or to go take a scholarship at some other schools," Lepak said.

Ultimately, he chose the scholarship option.

"When I went through the process and evaluated it, at the time, I was 17 years old and I thought I needed to go where the scholarship was," Lepak said. "So I went to Colorado State with my decision."

After settling in at Fort Collins, some stuff happened.

Namely, the Colorado State Rams were in midst of tough times and struggled to a 3-9 overall record, including a 2-6 mark in the Mountain West, in 2007.

CSU head coach Sonny Lubick was then relieved of his coaching duties, and replacement Steve Fairchild took over.

Lepak said he gave it a chance, but simply things weren't the right fit.

"I had some really fond memories of being there in Colorado," Lepak said. "I had a lot of really good friends there, but ultimately what my dream was was to come play at OU, and I wasn't very happy up there, and it wasn't working out like I wanted it to, and it just kind of got to the point where I just knew that I wanted to be here."

So, in June of 2008 he transferred to OU.

"I always wanted to be a Sooner, so I figured I'd go after it," Lepak said at the time. "If that's what I want, I should go do it."

He said the decision involved thinking the situation through alone as well as consulting his parents for advice.

And it also fringed on a big leap of faith.

"Finally I just made the decision [and said], you know, at this point in my life I've only got one opportunity to do this, so I'm going to come back to OU and take a shot," Lepak said. "And whatever happens, that's what you have to live with the outcome because I knew I was chasing after my dream."

So now, here he is: starting center for the Sooners in a huge rivalry game.

"It's exciting, you know, to play in a big game, and it's a thing I look forward to," Lepak said.

Lepak did, however, get some game experience earlier in the year when senior Brody Eldridge suffered an injury at Nebraska.

And that might help the transition some.

"Yeah, it was good to have a situation like that where now to get ready for a situation like this where there's a lot of people kind of counting on me to step up and play this week," Lepak said. "And so yeah, that experience with Nebraska was good to kind of get that kind of feeling out of the way, kind of get those butterflies out and everything like that."

But now, he knows he's the man snapping the ball going into the contest, something the rest of the team is counting on.

"You know, the guys have been really supportive of me," Lepak said. "I've been supportive of them all season long. And we just try to stick together. We know that regardless of what's going on, the other thing that matters is us and what we do together, and so we try to [pay less attention to] outside of us and try to focus on each other and help each other along."

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