During the summer, ESPN.com is taking a closer look at each scholarship player on Oklahoma’s roster in our Crimson Countdown series. Each day, we analyze each player’s impact on the program since arriving on campus, his potential impact this fall, and his long-term projection. Starting with No. 1 Dominique Alexander, the series follows the roster numerically through No. 98 Chuka Ndulue.
No. 19 Eric Striker, linebacker, 6-foot, 220 pounds, junior
Impact thus far: Striker had a breakout campaign as a sophomore in 2013. The Class of 2012 signee escaped a redshirt season during his first year, playing in 13 games but having a minimal impact with six tackles. He started every game a year ago, finishing with 6.5 sacks and 50 tackles including 10.5 tackles for loss. Striker’s three-sack performance in the Sugar Bowl could set him up for a all-american-type season as a junior.
Impact in 2014: Striker could put himself into contention for Big 12 defensive player of the year status this fall. The Sooners experimented with putting him at several different positions during the spring and Striker will be featured in OU’s defensive plans during his junior campaign.
Long term upside: OU should get at least one productive season from Striker, who has the potential to change games with his quickness and speed off the edge. If he makes a similar jump from sophomore to junior season that he did from his freshman to sophomore season, Striker should find his name on some all-american lists this postseason.
Evaluation grade for Striker: A. The Sooners unearthed a gem in SEC country by landing Striker, a three-star safety prospect out of Florida. OU recognized his elite pass rushing skills and projected him to be a linebacker in its system.
Development grade for Striker: C. Striker was underused during his true freshman season. He played a role on special teams but likely could have made a bigger impact as a rush specialist in passing situations, particularly on a squad that finished with just 24 sacks in 2012. Teammates considered him one of the better pass-rushers on the squad but he wasn’t deployed in that role in 2012. Last year, he was unleashed and did plenty of damage.
Quotable: “Eric is very disruptive. You don’t want to over-coach him. He has a scheme that he’s trying to execute, but there’s stuff that you can’t coach. Great football players you shouldn’t have to coach every inch on the football field. Eric has great instincts. He’s not only a great player, he has a great feel for the game, and that’s what great players do. They feel the game. He knows when to take his shots. We don’t want to limit his energy and his ability to make big plays.” -- defensive coordinator Mike Stoops.