NORMAN — Even without all of the disruption that he's caused to opposing offenses, Oklahoma's sophomore defensive end Charles Tapper has been one of the easiest players to find on the field.
On a team with plenty of noticeable hairstyles — Tony Feo's long braid of hair and Nila Kasitati's Afro that echoes Billy Sims' — Tapper's dreadlocks were among the more recognizable ones.
Oklahoma hopes Tapper is no Samson because just before Thanksgiving, Tapper's locks had to be cut off.
“I let a lady down the street here kind of retwist them, and she kind of messed them up,” Tapper said. “I didn't have a choice but to cut them. They were falling out.”
When Tapper stepped off the plane in Baltimore, his mother, Rhonda Tapper, couldn't believe it.
“What happened to your hair?” she asked Charles.
Rhonda was upset.
“Football,” Tapper answered, though that wasn't exactly accurate.
There has been a benefit to the new look, though.
“I'm way faster,” Charles said with a laugh. “I'm feeling a bit lighter.”
The Sooners need Tapper as fast as he can be against Oklahoma State on Saturday as they try to slow down the Big 12's No. 2 scoring offense.
Tapper leads the Sooners with 4.5 sacks and with eight tackles for loss.
The Cowboys present a bigger challenge than he's faced all season.
Oklahoma State makes things difficult on opposing defensive ends and linebackers who regularly come off the edge like OU's Eric Striker.
“They don't do too many five-step drops,” defensive end Geneo Grissom said. “We're going to have to make sure we get in and close that pocket and put some pressure on them as much as we can.”
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