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Chuck Landon: Wait was worthwhile for MU’s Locklear

October 5, 2018

Alex Locklear’s long wait was worthwhile.

Sure, it was tedious for the former Spring Valley High School football star.

Not getting his first meaningful start on Marshall’s offensive line until the fourth game of his redshirt junior season was indeed a long wait.

So, what made it worth his while?

The fourth quarter.

“Oh, it was awesome,” said the 6-foot-5, 325-pound right tackle. “It was great. You know, you always have to be ready whenever your number is called. I am glad that I was. And I was able to go out and really help my team win.

“I love this team. Like I was telling someone else, this isn’t a bunch of teammates ... this is a bunch of friends, a bunch of brothers.

“Going out and being able to help them win a game was huge for me. And the way that we did it? It’s hard to describe how you feel after that. I don’t know what the odds were, going into that last 98-yard drive, but I’m sure that the odds of us being able to go down there and do that - 98 yards - is very low.

“But we were able to.”

More important, Marshall did it by running the football. That hadn’t happened during the 2018 season, but it occurred during the fourth quarter Saturday night at Western Kentucky.

The Thundering Herd rushed for only 32 yards on 13 carries in the first half. Then, MU gained 36 yards on the ground in nine attempts in the third quarter.

But in the fourth quarter when the game was on the line? Marshall struck for 45 yards in 11 carries with running back Tyler King contributing 36 yards on five carries.

And who was one of the cornerstones of MU’s offensive line during that epic drive?

Locklear.

“We established the run game by the end of the game,” he said. “And I’m really happy with how our team played and how we finished. By the fourth quarter, we had them down and were able to open holes and get some stuff rolling. Ninety-eight yards - how else can you describe that?”

Here’s one way.

It released a lot of frustration for the offensive line in general and for Locklear personally.

“A lot, a lot, a lot,” said Locklear with a smile. “Personally, being able to establish the run game in the fourth quarter whenever our team needed it the most, that’s what gave me the most satisfaction personally.

“We had heard murmurs and some outside stuff ... people talking about our run game. Being able to establish that in the fourth quarter to win the football game - that was personal.”

So was moving into the starting lineup at right tackle.

“You’ve just got to be ready to play and ready to help your team when your number is called,” said Locklear. “And I was. I was pumped up to do it and excited to do it.”

But first he had to lose weight. Lots of weight.

“From the end of spring, I lost 35 or 40 pounds,” said Locklear. “Plus, I got stronger. I’ve added 50 or so pounds to my bench press and almost 60 or 70 pounds to my squat.”

That’s why Locklear will be in the starting lineup when MU hosts Middle Tennessee at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Joan C. Edwards Stadium.

It was worth the wait.

Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at clandon@herald-dispatch.com.

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