NORMAN — Four years ago Tuesday, Jamarkus McFarland called Jackie Shipp and offered his commitment to Oklahoma as a Christmas gift.
McFarland, then a four-star defensive tackle prospect from Lufkin, Texas, chose the Sooners over Texas in one of the more high-profile recruiting battles in recent history. The story of his recruitment was chronicled in a lengthy, controversial New York Times article.
The first game of his college football career was Oklahoma's 2009 season opener, a 14-13 loss to BYU inside Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. He'll end his college career in the same stadium January 4, when Oklahoma faces Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl Classic.
The senior defensive tackle spoke last week about the challenge of facing the Aggies' Heisman Trophy winning quarterback, the excitement of returning to the stadium known as “JerryWorld,” and the hope that his next game there won't be his last.
What are your early impressions of Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel?
“He's an amazing athlete. It's something we've gotta prepare for. We've seen a lot of running quarterbacks in my career here, but we've gotta approach things the same way.”
Manziel seems to be at his best when plans break down and he improvises. How can you guard against that?
“It's just one-on-one football. You can't let the quarterback outside of the pocket. At the same time, it's more than just him. He's not gonna do that every play. It's his receivers staying alive on the plays that he does scramble. His linemen keeping guys locked up for him to do those things. We've all just gotta play as a unit ... just prepare the best we can.”
How important will third-down stops be in this game?