Russell Okung is perfect for the NFL

by Berry Tramel Published: February 26, 2010
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photo - Former Oklahoma State offensive lineman Russell Okung, right, is considered by some to be the prize of the coming class of offensive tackles, headed to Washington with the fourth pick or Kansas City with the fifth. AP PHOTO
Former Oklahoma State offensive lineman Russell Okung, right, is considered by some to be the prize of the coming class of offensive tackles, headed to Washington with the fourth pick or Kansas City with the fifth. AP PHOTO
He
’s 6-foot-5, 307 pounds. Came to OSU from George Bush High School in Fort Bend, Texas, was the Big 12 offensive lineman of the year, made All-American and ended his career with 47 straight starts.

He’s a gentle giant who is the ultimate bodyguard.

"I’m going to try to hit you in the mouth more times than you hit me in the mouth,” Okung said. "That’s just the way I am.”

Strong talk for a guy who ignored the NFL so he could make the 1:30 p.m. services at his Oklahoma City church.

"It’s a game God led me to play,” Okung said of the irony. "He wouldn’t have put me here if I couldn’t play.”

Left tackle has become an NFL position of status. The blind side. The sentry who keeps angry werewolfs off the guy throwing the ball.

"The most valuable man on any team is the quarterback, and protection of the quarterback should be of utmost importance,” said Kevin Colbert, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ director of player personnel.

Pass rush and quarterback protection is at the heart of the game. Ground zero. In the last four drafts, five quarterbacks, five defensive ends and five offensive tackles have been selected with a top-five pick. No other position has more than two top-five picks in that time.

That makes left tackle a boom-or-bust position. You must produce. You must protect. Left tackles are franchise cornerstones.

"I definitely say I’d welcome the pressure,” Okung said. "It’s a compliment just to be considered that.”

Of course, there’s a downside to being Mr. Blind Side. They sort of need you on Sundays.

Berry Tramel: 405-760-8080; Berry Tramel can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1.

by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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