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OU, OSU offensive linemen fly under the radar

Oklahoman Published: August 20, 2009
Trent Williams noticed one of his teammates doing an interview after practice and decided to have some fun.

The Oklahoma offensive lineman sidled up to the reporter and playfully suggested a couple questions. But when told that he’d been the subject of conversation only moments earlier, he turned serious.

"You know who I am without my jersey on?” he said to the reporter.

You’ll have to forgive Williams. Like most offensive linemen, he isn’t used to being recognized. He plays a less-than-sexy position that is often an afterthought.

Not this season.

Not with Williams and Russell Okung around.

The offensive tackles from Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are the best in the country. They aren’t among the best. They aren’t some of the best. They are the best at their position in all the land.

Amid the lovefest over Sam Bradford and Zac Robinson that has consumed our fair state, it’s easy to overlook a couple of left tackles. But make no mistake, those talented quarterbacks are made even better by the guys guarding their backsides.

Truth is, if these offenses thrive, Okung and Williams will have played big roles.

"If it takes only one player to block the best pass rusher, you don’t have to sacrifice another guard or a tight end or a running back,” ESPN commentator and former Florida quarterback Jesse Palmer said. "The possibilities in offense just grow exponentially. If you can get extra guys out in routes, then those are plays to be had if you’re a quarterback.

"I think that’s what makes both of those guys so special.”

Okung and Williams can handle a defense’s best pass rusher on their own, and that springs the playmakers. Suppose the Cowboys want Kendall Hunter catching passes out of the backfield instead of blocking? Suspect the Sooners prefer Jermaine Gresham in the open field instead of blocking at the line?

That’s the kind of difference Okung and Williams make.

Both could’ve left school early and declared for the NFL Draft after last season. Had they done so, they would’ve been extremely rich men as high, first-day draft picks.

Now, both could be top-five selections in next year’s draft.

Okung might be one of the first three players taken.


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