Monday, October 15, 2018
Colleges

Former Armwood player puts a rush on for Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Sooners' roster labels Eric Striker as an outside linebacker, but Striker flashes the speed of a strong safety when he consistently comes off the edge — the No. 19 on his crimson and cream jersey merely a blur.

Offenses always have to account for him.

The 6-foot, 220-pound sophomore brings it every play. Just ask Texas' Case McCoy. Striker rushed around the right side and turned the Longhorns' quarterback inside out, leaving him down on the ground, grasping for air.

Sooners defensive coordinator Mike Stoops called Striker the best blitzer he's ever had.

"He just has a great knack for getting that first step off the snap," said Stoops, brother of Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops. "Then there is his ability to change his body direction and his lean. His ability to finish rushes and his athleticism and what he can do with his body is what you want in an outside rusher."

When Striker isn't hitting the quarterback, he's stuffing running plays.

Striker says his play is not much different from his Armwood days, where he recorded a school record 42 sacks. He credits the Hawks program and high-intensity practices for fueling his success. "The coaches prepared me very well," Striker said.

The only change between high school and college? Striker has perfected his technique by using not only his speed, but his hands, to get blockers off of him.

Playing at Oklahoma in front of 85,000 people doesn't get to Striker even though the crowds were considerably smaller at Armwood's Lyle Flagg Field.

"When I play, I'm focused on the field," Striker said. "The crowd isn't a distraction."

With senior linebacker Cory Nelson out for the rest of the season with a torn pectoral muscle, Striker sees this as an opportunity to step up and be a leader for the linebacker corps. The leadership will be needed Thursday when the Sooners travel to Waco, Texas, for a top-10 matchup against undefeated Baylor and its high-powered offense.

Striker will undoubtedly look to pressure the Bears' passing game. He has done it all season with 30 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and six quarterback hurries in eight games.

No play may have been bigger than his sack and strip in Oklahoma's 35-21 victory against Notre Dame. Striker blew by the Irish offensive linemen and delivered a crushing, blindside blow on quarterback Tommy Rees that sent the ball straight into the air. The Sooners' Corey Nelson intercepted the pass and returned it 24 yards for an early touchdown.

"He poses a lot of problems for tackles just because of his speed," Mike Stoops said of Striker. "He's so quick getting off the football."

With Baylor averaging 63.9 points and 718.4 yards a game, Striker recognizes the challenge.

"The want has to be there in a game like this," Striker said.

Striker still keeps in weekly contact with fellow Hawks now playing in college, including Cody Waldrop (South Carolina), Allen Covington (Toledo) and Matt Jones (Florida)

They wish each other luck on the upcoming week, but if Striker gets loose Thursday night, it may be Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty who needs good luck.

J.J. Garrett can be reached at [email protected]

 
Comments
How Florida State responds after Hurricane Michael will decide its season

How Florida State responds after Hurricane Michael will decide its season

For the second year in a row, Florida State is having to deal with the football fallout from a devastating hurricane.The Seminoles' failure to respond properly from Hurricane Irma helped lead to their lost 2017 season. How they handle the aftermath o...
Updated: 11 hours ago
UConn linebacker hospitalized after suffering stroke

UConn linebacker hospitalized after suffering stroke

STORRS, Conn. ó UConn linebacker Eli Thomas has been hospitalized after suffering a stroke. The school issued a statement Monday saying the 220-pound junior had the stroke Wednesday prior to a weightlifting session. The school says Thomas was immedia...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Matt Bakerís AP Top 25: Miami out, Florida Gators up and UCF in top 10

Matt Bakerís AP Top 25: Miami out, Florida Gators up and UCF in top 10

Four teams in the top eight of my AP Top 25 lost Saturday. So did four teams from 16-25. Just another college football weekend.Georgia's shocking 20-point loss at LSU sent the Bulldogs down from third to No. 9 on my ballot. UGA, for me, is in the 5-1...
Published: 10/14/18
Virginia uses defense to beat No. 16 Miami, 16-13

Virginia uses defense to beat No. 16 Miami, 16-13

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. ó Jordan Ellis ran for a touchdown and Virginia kept No. 16 Miamiís high-powered offense from ever getting going in a 16-13 victory Saturday night. Ellis scored on a 7-yard run in the first half and Brian Delaney kicked three fie...
Published: 10/13/18

No. 10 UCF rallies for 31-30 comeback victory over Memphis

MEMPHIS, Tenn. ó With No. 10 UCF struggling and the nationís longest winning streak in jeopardy, first-year coach Josh Heupel decided to take a gamble. Facing fourth and 1 in Memphis territory late in the third quarter and down 13 points, Heupel sent...
Published: 10/13/18
Livefor24 Foundation hosts first 5K, fun run

Livefor24 Foundation hosts first 5K, fun run

The event rises from the death of former UT volleyball player Melissa Vanderhall.
Published: 10/13/18
No. 14 Florida rallies from 18 down to beat Vanderbilt 37-27

No. 14 Florida rallies from 18 down to beat Vanderbilt 37-27

NASHVILLE, Tenn. ó Dan Mullen prefers not to talk about what prompted his 14th-ranked Florida Gators and the Vanderbilt Commodores to spill off the sidelines. Derek Mason says a Florida player said something to the Vanderbilt coach. In the end, the G...
Published: 10/13/18
Why the SEC East no longer looks like the SEC Least

Why the SEC East no longer looks like the SEC Least

When the Gators removed their list of SEC East championships from Ben Hill Griffin Stadium over the offseason, the official reason was that no other Florida team showed off its division titles.There might as well have been another factor, too: Winnin...
Published: 10/12/18
Florida Gatorsí defensive swarm, Miami cashing in on turnovers and more state nuggets

Florida Gatorsí defensive swarm, Miami cashing in on turnovers and more state nuggets

Florida's flying DThe Gators' swarming defense has been the biggest reason for its Year 1 turnaround under coach Dan Mullen. Four players — LB Vosean Joseph, DL Jachai Polite, DE Jabari Zuniga and DB Chauncey Gardner-Johnson — have a...
Published: 10/12/18
College football Week 7 viewing guide

College football Week 7 viewing guide

Lamest time window: Noon. Go outside and enjoy the (slightly) cooler weather before the games get interesting in the afternoon.Noon: Vanderbilt usually plays the No. 14 Gators tough. Will that continue in Nashville?2:30: Pitt dashed Miami's playoff h...
Published: 10/12/18