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Oklahoma football: Sooners' Ty Darlington relies on faith in filling in for Gabe Ikard

BY STEPHANIE KUZYDYM, Staff Writer, Published: November 10, 2012

— Ty Darlington played for Ben Habern.

He played for Gabe Ikard and Tyler Evans and Nila Kasitati.

One of the silicone wristbands he wears told him that he had to be his brothers' keeper.

Proverbs 17:17. “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.”

Oklahoma's offensive line has faced adversity all year. Two injured starters were lost for the season before it began.

Then on Saturday, as the captains walked out for the coin toss, Gabe Ikard was spotted at midfield in blue jeans and a polo shirt. OU officials released a statement saying Ikard, the Sooners' starting center and a preseason All-Big 12 lineman, suffered “head issues” this week and was not cleared to play.

That's how Darlington, a true freshman from Apopka, Fla., found himself playing for his four offensive line brothers who stood injured and dressed in street clothes for Oklahoma's 42-34 win over Baylor.

His position coach considered it a successful first start, with a few hitches. The Sooners allowed only one sack and rushed for 183 yards. Twice Darlington was penalized for false starts, though neither was fatal. In fact, both drives ended with touchdowns.

The second penalty came on third-and-2 in the third quarter with OU in the Belldozer package.

“I couldn't hear Blake (Bell),” Darlington said. “I didn't have as much experience in that situation. Hopefully I can correct that. Hopefully that won't ever happen like that again in my four years here.”

No one expected Darlington's chance to come so soon. OU coach Bob Stoops sent Ikard out for pregame warmups in uniform. But Darlington knew this week he'd be starting. When the news reached home, the son of an Oklahoma cheerleader and Apopka High School's head football coach found his phone ringing a bit more than usual.

“(My dad) was just checking up on me on how I was doing through practice and sort of giving me pointers,” Darlington said. “This is what I've dreamed of doing. I wanted to come here and be an Oklahoma Sooner for a long time.”

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