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Tuesday, December 18, 2012
State of the program: Guards/centers

By Brandon Chatmon

After grading the performance of Oklahoma’s interior offensive line in 2012, it is the perfect time to take a closer look at the centers and guards on the roster or the commitment list as SoonerNation evaluates the future at those positions for Oklahoma. Here’s a look at one player who could be next in line to make a major impact, one player to keep an eye on and one current commitment who could be the future along the offensive interior.

Gabe Ikard
Center Gabe Ikard will be a senior next season and OU has a natural fit to fill his spot in Ty Darlington.
Next in line: Ty Darlington. The true freshman has proven to be a valuable asset. His maturity and dependability should make him a key contributor in 2013, and he has given the Sooners coaching staff various options this season, including moving Gabe Ikard to guard at times. He should be an anchor for OU’s offensive line for years to come.

Keep an eye on: Nila Kasitati. If Kasitati returns to full health and can stay healthy, he would provide quality depth as a junior in 2013 then be prepared to start in 2014, after OU loses three of its top six projected interior linemen for 2013. That’s why it is important that Kasitati returns to good health and is prepared to finish his career with two quality seasons (three seasons if he applies for and receives a sixth year of eligibility).

On the trail: TBD. It would be nice to bring in an guard or center in this year’s recruiting class but it’s not a necessity unless Kasitati or Tyler Evans suffer setbacks during their recovery from injuries. In other words, the Sooners don’t need to bring in an interior lineman just to bring one in. But if they can’t find a quality prospect to sign in February, interior line may be the No. 1 priority for the class of 2014.

Summary: With Darlington’s emergence and the expected return of Kasitati and Evans, the Sooners offensive interior could be a major strength in 2013. The lone potential concern along the interior is lack of quality, proven young linemen other than Darlington. Yet, that doesn’t mean the Sooners need to sign a prospect in February unless they’re confident that player can be ready to play within two years.