OU Football: What’s it like to beat Texas? Ogbonnia Okoronkwo says ‘the field is ours and we get to plant that flag’
DALLAS – I asked former Oklahoma linebacker Ogbonnia Okoronkwo what he remembered from last year’s 29-24 win over Texas.
“I remember having to catch my breath for a little bit,” Okoronkwo said on Friday afternoon, adding a laugh.
“Then I remember how good it felt being able to celebrate. The field is ours and we get to plant that flag. We get to take home bragging rights and the Golden Hat for another year. It felt really good. It’s a tradition.”
Okoronkwo, now on the Los Angeles Rams roster, has a different perspective now as a former player. But that doesn’t keep the passion for the rivalry game away from him.
“I didn’t know how serious it was until Jordan (Evans) and Joe (Mixon) came back and I saw how they were still into it even though they are a year removed just like I am right now.
“It’s just something that, when you leave, the feeling doesn’t go away. It’s even crazier because you know you can’t be out there. You just have to watch it. It makes you so anxious.”
Okoronkwo was named the Big 12 player of the week after last year’s Red River Showdown game against the Longhorns. He had five tackles, a sack, a forced fumble, a pass breakup and five quarterback hurries. He was exhausted on the Cotton Bowl floor after the victory.
“This game was huge,” Okoronkwo said. “Going into the season and looking at the schedule, that’s the one for sure that you know it’s going to be a fight every single minute.”
He sounds like a proud big brother when talking about linebackers Kenneth Murray and Curtis Bolton. Murray has always “had the tools to be a great player” while Bolton is “showing everybody what I’ve been watching for the last four years.”
Okoronkwo said he has been impressed with Mark Jackson’s aggressive play.
“If you are a good pass rusher, it’s going to be shown in this defense,” Okoronkwo said. “I told Mark that I’m gone and that productivity has to be there and somebody has to step up. Why not you?”
He’s also impressed with Caleb Kelly’s maturity through all of the talk about his redshirt status.
“That’s who Caleb is. He’s going to do what’s best for the team,” Okoronkwo said. “He’s going to let everything play out. He’s never going to put himself ahead of the team.”
Okoronkwo is also letting things play out during his own journey with the Rams. He has been on the PUP (physically unable to perform) list recovering after suffering a broken foot during spring workouts.
“OU prepared me for that. This is just a bump in the road,” Okoronkwo said. “Being at OU for four years and waiting your turn is something that a lot of people can attest to because you’re playing around a bunch of other talented guys.
“I definitely want to be out there on Sunday, but I’m not letting it bother me too much because I know my time is coming and I know it could end up being a blessing in disguise.”