NORMAN — Gabe Ikard can be honest with himself to say Oklahoma's 2011 football season was a disappointment. Winning 10 games, including a bowl, would be enough for a lot of programs, but the Sooners had higher aspirations.
It's up to Ikard, the former Bishop McGuinness star, and the next generation of leaders at OU to elevate the team to be a national title contender.
“That's obviously what we want,” Ikard said in the weeks leading up to the team's Insight Bowl victory, which did provide some momentum for the year ahead. “We know we're capable of more.” Ikard included, the Sooners will lean on an experienced offensive line as a cornerstone for the 2012 season. In addition to Ikard, starters Ben Habern, Tyler Evans and Lane Johnson all return.
As a redshirt sophomore, Ikard already turned himself into the unofficial offensive line MVP in 2011.
When Habern, a team captain, was lost for six weeks — nearly half the season — because of a broken forearm, Ikard sprung into action. He moved over to Habern's center spot and performed exceptionally.
When Habern was again healthy, Ikard moved back to left guard and played well there, also.
For his play, Ikard was a first-team All-Big 12 selection by both the coaches and media.
OU allowed 11 sacks, seventh best in the country. And its running backs averaged more than 5 yards a carry.
“Those guys have done pretty well in there,” Sooners coach Bob Stoops said. “Gabe had a great year, at center and guard.” He was also an academic All-American. Ikard, a zoology major and 2009 Colon scholarship winner, plans to attend medical school.
As an example on and off the field this past year, Ikard is certainly someone to watch in 2012.