NORMAN — Oklahoma center Ty Darlington barely played a year ago behind Gabe Ikard, but saw just enough action to burn a year of eligibility.
Darlington, now a junior, said he doesn’t waste much time thinking about the lost redshirt, though.
“It's in the past,” Darlington said. “There's nothing that me being disappointed or getting upset about it is gonna do now.”
Darlington, from Apopka, Fla., is good friends and roommates with Sooner quarterback Trevor Knight. Darlington started one game as a true freshman and is now in line to replace Ikard — a first-team All-American last season — as Oklahoma’s starting center.
Darlington spoke last week about the offensive line’s depth, Knight’s progress as a leader and what he learned from Ikard.
Q: The offensive line seems deeper than its been in a long time. Has that created more competition?
A: “Absolutely; I could not tell you who's gonna start up front right now. There are so many guys who are competing and playing hard and playing physically. It could be any combination of guys, and that's gonna make us all better.
“And those guys across the line from us … those are the best guys in the Big 12, we believe, maybe in the nation. There are some next-level quality players on that side of the ball, and we're all competing hard. It's getting a little chippy sometimes, which I love, too. Everybody gets to talking a little bit, and that makes both of us better. We're playing hard against each other.”
How have you seen Trevor progress this offseason?
“As a leader, he's come a long way. He's got the reins of the team. He knows that, and we're gonna go as he goes a lot. He's done a great job of stepping up into that leadership role. I know he's putting in a lot of time watching film and getting with those new receivers.”
Is he more consistent?
“Absolutely. We take that upon ourselves up front, and it's because when he's not consistent, he's uncomfortable in the pocket. When he's not at ease back there it's because we're not giving him good enough protection. We want to create a pocket back there so he can sit back there all day and make any throw he wants to and feel like he's safe back there.”
How important was it for you to spend the past couple years working under Gabe Ikard?
“It was crucial for me. He really showed me the ropes and showed me just how to go about your business, especially being forced to be a leader at the center position, and especially on the mental side of the game. You have to prepare. You can't just go out there and prepare to roll the ball out there and play. He's taught me a lot. He continues to encourage me. He was really an encouraging force for me more than anything else, encouraging me that I was getting better, being behind me when I struggled at times early. He was a big deal for me.”