Hello, Sooner Nation! Have I got a good one for you today or what? With 19 days left to go in our Countdown to Kickoff, I’d like to take a trip down memory lane and remember the greatest pure edge rusher you’ll see at the collegiate level. Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to present to you the one and only Eric Striker.
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Now don’t feel special, Case McCoy — Eric Striker treated every QB he lined up against like that. The Tampa, Florida native was an absolute freak of nature. His first step off the line of scrimmage was about as quick and filthy as humanly possible, and his body control was downright elite.
For Sooner fans, it goes without saying that Striker was one of the most electrifying players on the field, but off the field, his voice and presence made him one of the team’s strongest leaders. In 2015, he was the recipient of Oklahoma’s Bob Kalsu Award, which is awarded to a student athlete who exhibits Kalsu’s qualities of leadership and selflessness. There was doubt about it — for the majority of his career, Striker was the heart and soul of Oklahoma.
After playing sparingly as a freshman in 2012, Striker became a full-time starter from 2013 through 2015. Over the course of those three seasons, the defensive terror recorded 185 total tackles, 46.5 tackle-for-loss, 23.0 sacks, 11 pass breakups, four fumble-recoveries, two forced-fumbles and an interception. The man’s motor simply never slowed down.
One of his best single games came on one of the biggest stages. The conclusion to the 2013 season pit Oklahoma against the dynastic Alabama Crimson Tide in the Sugar Bowl. Striker set up shop in Bama’s backfield, giving QB AJ McCarron all kinds of fits. Just look at the fire in this man’s eyes:
For as momentous as that play was, it wouldn’t come close to the highlight of the night. In the waning moment, with the game on the line, Oklahoma held onto a dissipating one-score advantage, and the Crimson Tide looked primed for a comeback. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, Striker came screaming around the edge on McCarron’s blind side. What happened next? Well, the rest is history.
Was that the only time we’d see Striker dehumanize an SEC quarterback or team? Absolutely not!
The Sooners trounced Tennessee in September of 2014, but the 2015 game in Knoxville was an instant classic. Of course, OU came out on top in yet another OU-SEC battle, and Striker made damn sure everyone knew about it.
Striker was named to three straight All-Big 12 First Teams from 2013-15. As a senior, he was named a First Team All-American by Sporting News and Sports Illustrated. There was no denying his impact at the collegiate level, but following his final down as a Sooner, his name went uncalled during the 2016 NFL Draft.
Striker managed to sign with the Buffalo Bills as an undrafted free agent, but was waived before the start of the 2016 season. Though the NFL couldn’t find a place to harness his strengths, Bob Stoops brought Striker back to Norman as a defensive recruiting analyst in 2017. After one season in the role, the chance to play professional ball presented itself to him once again, this time in Canada.
While Sooner fans can now continue to follow Eric Striker on the field in the CFL, his time at Oklahoma will always be remembered as a sight to behold. His game had it all — the sacks, the swag, and of course, the strikes.
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