As other players at his position have been focused on securing another 10-win season for Oklahoma, defensive tackle Jordan Wade has been focused on making an impact in 2013.
Opportunities abound for Wade, with three of four rotation players at defensive tackle leaving the program after the AT&T Cotton Bowl. The redshirting freshman spent the fall trying to improve his technique and skills at defensive tackle.
“He’s growing in ability,” senior defensive tackle JaMarkus McFarland said. “I can see great things out of him. It’s a learning curve at this position but I’d say look out for him next year.”
Defensive tackle is arguably the most difficult position for players to make a smooth transition from high school to college football. It requires physical ability, but the requirements of playing the position are difficult to duplicate outside a game. Yet, as Wade gains experience, his unique skill could rise to the forefront.
“He’s super strong,” said guard Adam Shead, who faced Wade who played on the scout-team defense, consistently in practice this fall. “He knows how to anchor down, and he’s got you.”
A defensive tackle with unique strength can be a disruptive force in the middle, a player around whom defenses can be built. Obviously Wade is not there yet, but he has the physical talent to develop into that type of player.
“Learning comes with time, but strength you can’t coach; ability, you can’t coach,” McFarland said. “Learning the game, step by step, that’s the process he’s in right now, but strength is not a factor when it comes to him."
And he’s slowly but surely learning how to apply that strength.
“If there’s one guy who’s gained more strength since he got here, it’s him,” center Gabe Ikard said. “You can definitely tell the difference in the way he practices against us. You can feel him giving you more push, giving you a better look from those strength gains.”
Said Shead: “He’s learned how to use his strength better. At first, as a young guy, you’re strong but you don’t know how to use it. What he’s done is develop it, he knows how to use it better.”
Wade’s progress won't mean much, though, if he can’t help the Sooners in 2013. OU badly needs rotational players at defensive tackle and it’s clear Wade has the physical talent to address that need. It’s simply a matter of his progression and development, beginning with his redshirt freshman season next fall.
“He’s given us a good look and he’s going to have a chance to get some playing time next year,” Ikard said. “With how efficiently Coach [Jackie] Shipp coaches them to play with technique, he has the chance to be a really good player. He’s a young guy but he has some potential with his strength and ability.”