NORMAN — On his first day of football practice at Armwood High School in Seffner, Fla., 15-year old Eric Striker immediately told coach Sean Callahan his future plans.
“He told me that he was gonna play wide receiver for me, and that he was gonna go to Oklahoma,” Callahan said. “Most ninth graders don't tell me stuff like that.”
The first goal changed after about one day of practice, when Callahan moved Striker to defense. The position change, though, made Striker's second goal possible, and through seven games this season, the sophomore linebacker has arguably been Oklahoma's best, most consistently effective defender.
Not only that, the switch to defense ultimately made Striker — with his knack for disruptive blitzes — one of the most appropriately named college football players in America.
“No,” OU coach Bob Stoops responded with a chuckle when asked if he'd been around a player with a more fitting name than Striker's.
“And you've got to know he just has the absolute best personality to go with it. He's special.”
Oklahoma hosts No. 10 Texas Tech and its high-powered offense Saturday afternoon, and Striker's ability to pressure quarterback Davis Webb could be critical in determining the game's outcome.
Striker has recorded 27 tackles, four tackles-for-loss and just one sack so far this season, but if defenders were credited with sack assists, the sophomore would surely lead the team in that category.
As Kansas' offense lined up on third down early in the second half last weekend, color commentator Brock Huard warned ESPN viewers of what was coming.
“You have got to block Striker,” Huard said. “He's at the top on that left tackle.”
Within seconds, Striker blew past Kansas' Pat Lewandowski, forcing quarterback Jake Heaps to his left, where defensive end Charles Tapper sacked him for a six-yard loss.