NORMAN – Lane Johnson finally has found a home.
Johnson has adapted so quickly to his newest position he could be in the starting lineup Sept. 3 when Oklahoma opens the football season against Tulsa.
A former quarterback, tight end and defensive end, Johnson was moved to offensive tackle last spring after Jarvis Jones suffered a knee injury.
Four months later, offensive tackles coach Bruce Kittle announced on Monday Johnson is alternating as the starting left tackle with Donald Stephenson, a returning starter.
"Lane has progressed really well," Kittle said. "He's in quite a battle. It's pretty intense right now."
Big (6-foot-6), thick (305 pounds) and athletic (runs a 4.8 in the 40), Johnson is a player teammates are buzzing about.
With Jones sidelined at least two more months, Johnson, Stephenson and redshirt freshman Daryl Williams are competing for the two starting tackle jobs. The player that doesn't start will serve as the backup on both sides.
"Lane has done everything we've asked," Kittle said. "He just hasn't had a lot of reps at that position with all our zone stuff. Every day he's getting better -- aiming points, footwork, blocking out. And his pass protection is improving. He's right on pace where he should be to help us."
It's rare to see a quarterback grow into an offensive lineman, but that's Johnson's story.
Three years ago, Johnson was a quarterback at Kilgore College. He switched to tight end then transferred to OU.
After redshirting, Johnson was still a tight end at this time last season but moved to defensive end midway through the season.
Johnson opened spring drills at defensive end but moved to the O-line after Jones' injury.
"I was hesitant at first. I wanted to stay at D-end," Johnson said. "A couple of weeks later, I was struggling at D-end. I knew the offense needed some help. When I moved it just came natural to me having blocked as a tight end."
Coaches are playing Johnson at left tackle to expedite the learning curve, but he'll eventually play both sides.
"The past six months have been crazy," Johnson said. "To go from being the low man on the pole to making the transition, it's really been a blessing."
Gabe Ikard went through a similar transformation, moving from tight end to guard. Ikard said there's one huge difference. Johnson has linebacker-like speed, which will benefit him against speedy defensive ends.
"That kid can fly. He's unbelievably athletic," Ikard said. "He's done a great job doing what he needs to do strength-wise, size-wise to get on the field. He's one of my best friends on the team. We've always eaten together. Now just eats a lot more than he used to."
When he arrived at OU, Johnson weighed 250 pounds. Last spring, he weighed 275. He now tips the scales at 303.
"It's been weird getting used to this new body," Johnson said.
His secret to packing on pounds?
"A half gallon of chocolate milk," Johnson said. "I eat a lot, but chocolate milk has a lot of calories."
Johnson said it's hard to believe three years ago he was a quarterback.
"It's been a shocker," Johnson said. "I've worked my tail off to try and learn the offense... I just want to get on the field and help this team any way I can."