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Being an offensive lineman 'all guts, no glory'

By Jake Trotter Published: August 24, 2008
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NORMAN — During Meet the Sooners Day, the lines of fans waiting for Sam Bradford and DeMarco Murray's autographs resembled those at Six Flags Over Texas.

Anyone wanting to meet center Jon Cooper or tackle Branndon Braxton could do so almost immediately.

Such is life for an offensive lineman.

"The fun and glory is at the other positions, quarterback, running back, wide receiver. Playing offensive line is pretty much want-to. You have to want to go out there and block, you have to want to go out there and do your job,” said guard Brandon Walker.

Newspaper headlines and fan interest will center around Bradford, Murray and tight end Jermaine Gresham, the team's playmakers.

But the strength of this team is on the offensive line.

Tackles Braxton and Phil Loadholt, guards Duke Robinson and Brandon Walker and Cooper are all seniors and returning starters.

The line's top two backups, guard Brian Simmons and tackle Trent Williams, also return.

Cooper, Robinson and Loadholt were Preseason All-Big 12 selections.

For those reasons, many prognosticators believe OU will have the best offensive line in college football.

That won't prevent most of the attention going to Bradford and Murray.

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Oklahoma offensive linemen Branndon Braxton (front), Phil Loadholt (from left), Trent Williams, Jon Cooper, Duke Robinson and Brandon Walker aren't the ones who draw fan interest, but they're one of the Sooners' strengths. By Chris Lansberger, The Oklahoman

‘Twisting, pulling, pinching, eye gouging'

Just how tough is it to be a college offensive lineman? We asked players around the league about what it's really like.

"When our guys make the newspapers for scoring touchdowns, that's our glory; that's when we know that we did our jobs. The worst is when there's a loose ball and a dogpile. Talk about a dirty job — the stuff that goes on in there is X-rated. There's twisting, pulling, pinching, eye gouging and pretty much whatever guys can get their hands on they pull.” — Travis Schneider, offensive lineman, Texas A&M

"When DeMarco (Murray) runs for a touchdown, we feel better than he does.” — Duke Robinson, offensive lineman, Oklahoma

"Someone else can bust an assignment, maybe in the backfield, but we get the blame. ... You learn to take it and not complain about it.” — Trent Williams, offensive lineman, Oklahoma

How I do what I do

Jon Cooper explains what it's really like when you're working the dirty job of being an offensive lineman:

"There's a lot that goes on up front, a lot of hitting and punching.

"Guys are always trying to get away with this or that or take little cheap shots.

"You're scratching and clawing for every inch, every yard.”

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