Oklahoma football: Gabe Ikard is the face of the Sooners

COMMENTARY — Excellence on the field and in the classroom make the former Bishop McGuinness standout the symbol of OU's senior class.
by Jenni Carlson Modified: November 14, 2013 at 2:00 pm •  Published: November 13, 2013

He realized that if he could slow those guys down, even if it was only occasionally, he might have a future at center.

After that season, coaches formally proposed the switch.

Even though Ikard had considered it, he didn't agree to the change immediately. He talked it over with his parents. He sought advice from Ben Habern, then the Sooners' center. Then, he thought it over.

“A lot,” he said. “There's a lot of things that go into it.”

Ikard would need to gain lots of weight, then learn a position that he'd never played in his life.

But he decided to give it a go.

“I was going to be blocking at tight end or I was going to be blocking at center,” he said, “so I decided to take the path where I'd get on the field the most and the quickest.

“It came down to if I wanted to be on the field 15 plays a game or 90 plays a game.”

That was four years and 50 pounds ago.

Ikard jumped into the position switch, spending the spring of 2010 learning technique, studying plays and eating more than he ever had before. But he was determined to make it work.

“I didn't want to get fat and then not play,” he said.

He chuckled.

“That would've just been depressing.”

Nothing to be depressed about here. USA Today, Sports Illustrated and others named Ikard a midseason All-American, and Mel Kiper lists him as the seventh-best center in the 2014 NFL Draft.

“It's worked out pretty well,” Ikard said.

For Ikard and for the Sooners. He's been a stalwart on the field. He's been a superstar in the classroom. And he's been a willing spokesman, even when the questions have been tough and the answers have been few.

Saturday morning, during the Senior Day ceremony before kickoff against Iowa State, OU will announce the winner of the Don Key Award. It is given every year to the Sooner senior who exemplifies excellence on the field and in the classroom.

No one has done that better than Ikard.

Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.

by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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