Habern's Early Experience Pays Off

Not many players would consider an injury as being a plus, but mark down center Ben Habern as one that can, to some degree.

He entered his freshman year in a backup role behind starter Jon Cooper and played three games before suffering the first of a series of setbacks throughout his career to this date when he suffered a broken ankle at Baylor back in 2008.

At that point, though, he had both live game experience and the opportunity to train for the future.

"Yeah, I honestly think that it was kind of perfect for me because I got that gametime experience," Habern said. "And I also, after breaking my foot, I also was redshirted and able to kind of gain some more weight and get stronger, and so I kind of got the best of both worlds. I kind of got the best of getting some game time experience at a young age and also getting that redshirt year to kind of bulk up a little bit."

That's an interesting yet legitimate way of viewing it.

But the one thing that cannot be ignored is the amount of live experience and actual repetition situations Habern got as a true freshman before going down with the injury.

"It really just helped me kind of slow down in my mind how fast the defense is," Habern said. "And that was the biggest thing I had to adjust to, I mean, coming from a little private school in Texas moving to a big time, you know, college like Oklahoma and how fast everything was."

That enabled him to transition further.

"It really helped going against our defenses because in that year we had one of the best defenses in the country," Habern said. "And so I'm going against Gerald McCoy and Adrian Taylor and blocking Travis Lewis and Ryan Reynolds and those guys, and so even at practice it helps.

"But getting those reps in game time, that game time experience and, you know, working with the crowd and playing on the away games and stuff like that really kind of helped me and like you said, just kind of gave me a boost into my redshirt freshman year."

He again suffered setbacks before the start of the 2009 campaign, first a back injury right before the season, and then he broke his fibula and tore a ligament in his leg at Texas Tech in Game 11.

But he's now recovered from the latest of those and is pushing full throttle through the latter part of fall camp towards opening day.

He's one of a set five starters that figures to be a much improved offensive line group this time around.

And while it's different for other players, how Habern got to this point might best be reflected by the youth experience he received, something he said he'd choose again, strictly given the opportunity to redshirt or play immediately.

"Probably playing as a freshman [is what I'd do] just because that experience is always going to be helpful no matter what," Habern said. "Yeah, I mean, no one wants to be redshirted and just be on the scout team all year because that's never fun."

And neither is having a shaky line, something the much more experienced Habern will do his part to prevent this time around.

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