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Oklahoma football: Offensive line depth an issue now — and for the future

One more serious injury to an offensive lineman could be catastrophic for the group, but it's really the next few seasons that are areas of concern.
by Jason Kersey Published: September 14, 2012

— Oklahoma has a depth problem on its offensive line.

“Are we thin? Yeah,” said James Patton, the Sooner assistant who coaches guards and centers. “Guys have got to stay healthy; there's no doubt about it.”

One more serious injury to an offensive lineman could be catastrophic for a group that lost 59 career starts during the preseason, when seniors Ben Habern and Tyler Evans were lost to career-ending neck and back problems and a torn ACL, respectively.

After shifting Gabe Ikard back from guard to center, Habern and Evans were replaced in the lineup with Adam Shead — and his then-five career starts — and Bronson Irwin, who didn't start a game until the 2012 opener at UTEP.

The current starting five hasn't been bad so far through two games against inferior opponents, and as the talented group adjusts to playing together and gains experience, it should only get better.

But it isn't the current group that Sooner fans should be worried about; the depth of talent behind it and the outlook for OU offensive lines over the next few seasons are far bigger problems, and are the consequences of injuries and players quitting or failing to meet expectations.

OU's last five recruiting classes have included a total of 19 players who were offensive linemen when they signed letters of intent. Seven of them never played a down on OU's offensive line and four quit the team altogether.

All five offensive linemen OU signed in 2010 are either current starters or important reserves. But the Sooners' last two classes included a combined seven offensive line signees, and three of them aren't on the roster anymore.

* Dylan Dismuke, a 2011 signee and tackle from Duncan, redshirted as a true freshman but suffered a career-ending injury during practice last December.

* Will Latu, a junior-college tackle prospect, signed with OU but couldn't become academically qualified in time to join the Sooners for fall camp. He's now at Arkansas State.

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by Jason Kersey
OU Sports Reporter
Jason Kersey became The Oklahoman's OU football beat writer in May 2012 after a year covering high school sports and OSU recruiting. Before joining the newspaper in November 2006 as a part-time results clerk, he covered high school football for...
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