By Mike Casazza
Oklahoma's Gabe Ikard has a past that will help him in the future. Recruited to the Sooners as a blocking tight end, he's started and played very well at guard and center in college. His coach, Bob Stoops, says he could play tackle if needed. The 6-foot-3, 298-pound Ikard will provide any NFL team with the same versatility, to say nothing of his ability to rack up a large number of knockdowns for an interior lineman.
He made some freshman All-America teams in 2010, when he started the final 12 games at left guard. A year later, he was on some All-America and all-conference teams after making six starts at guard and seven at center. Ikard was penciled in at guard again before last season but started 12 games at center — and missed one with a concussion — when the team's starter had to retire after offseason neck surgery. Ikard was the Big 12's only repeat first-team pick on offense in 2012.
The 2013 season figures to be interesting and important for Ikard. He could stay at center, which might be his most realistic role in the NFL because of the value of that position, but the Sooners have again been hit with preseason injuries that might move Ikard to guard. Either way, it's an audition for Ikard.