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Position battle update: Offensive line

3/20/2012

While the Sooners are on spring break this week, SoonerNation will update readers on five position battles this spring. For today: Offensive line.

Through weeks of spring camp, the offensive line might be the most impressive of any position so far.

The Sooners have immense depth on the interior of the line, with six players ready to play and capable of starting for many teams in the Big 12. But position coach won’t be able to consistently rotate in that many players. So who will get the most time?

Ben Habern, who is sitting out the spring after undergoing offseason neck surgery, is assured of nailing down the starting job at center. All-conference guard/center Gabe Ikard is a lock to start, too, as is Tyler Evans, who will be a four-year starter at right guard next season.

After that it’s murky. Adam Shead, who was a catalyst blocking for the Belldozer formation, looks fabulous after suffering a knee sprain late in the year. Shead has a chance to be as good as any run blocker the Sooners have, which makes him a strong candidate to at least secure a rotation spot.

That leaves Nila Kasitati and Bronson Irwin, who actually have been very good this spring. Kasitati is capable of playing guard or center, and Irwin is in his third year of college. If both continue to perform the way they have in practice, it will be difficult for Patton not to play them. Considering what the Sooners just signed, too, the future is incredibly bright at guard and center.

The tackle position, however, is not quite as deep or strong. Lane Johnson seems like a fit at left tackle because of his athleticism. Daryl Williams remains the favorite to start OU’s first game at right tackle. After that, it’s murky. Tyrus Thompson is an interesting prospect, and so far the Sooners have been using him at left tackle quite a bit. Thompson could be being groomed to take over Johnson in 2013.

The tackle that has done the most for himself this spring is Derek Farniok. The 6-foot-9 tower might not be ready to compete for a starting job just yet, but he has come light years from last year. The tackle competition could be very interesting next season.