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August 17, 2012
Just before Bob Stoops announced to the media that senior defensive tackle Stacy McGee was suspended indefinitely, defensive tackles coach Jackie Shipp, defensive ends coach Bobby Jack Wright and defensive coordinator Mike Stoops huddled around senior defensive end David King at his locker.
"(They) came to my locker and talked to me about it," King told reporters surrounding him.
As coaches were explaining to King their vision for the defensive tackle position moving forward, Stoops was telling the media the news.
"Stacy's actually been suspended indefinitely, so that's university policy and we'll see where that goes in the end," Stoops said. "So we'll probably move David King more in there at the three technique. David's consistently weighing 275-80 pounds. He can treat himself to a few more cheeseburgers and he can be 285 in no time and he's got the strength to play in there."
King wasn't surprised when the coaches met with him and let him know he was about to become a defensive tackle. McGee, one of Kings best friends, had already told him he was suspended a few days before.
"He told me," King explained. "It's not any of my business so I didn't feel the need to share it with anybody."
King is a man you can trust with a secret. As starting linebacker Tom Wort came into the media room Friday afternoon, he was in a bit of shock from just receiving the news.
"I just found out about that," said Wort. "That's a disappointment because Stacy's a great talent. It hurts to hear that he's suspended."
Wort paused after that last word. He tried to speak again, but he seemed flustered. He didn't know where to go from there.
Much like a quarterback who Wort just ran over, he fumbled his words until he found the right thing to say.
"The other guys have been playing great," Wort said, finding his bearings. "Casey Walker's always been a great player when he's healthy. I'm looking forward to seeing him. Jamarkus McFarland has been playing great and some of the young guys have been stepping up. Jordan Phillips is one guy that's really been able to making some plays."
Oklahoma offensive linemen were the ones taking haymakers at the start of camp. They lost starting center and All-Big 12 preseason selection Ben Habern as he was forced to give up football do to neck and back complications from offseason surgery.
Then they lost starting right guard Tyler Evans on the second day of training camp to a torn ACL.
Now the defensive line has taken their first hit.
"It's a blow," said senior defensive tackle Jamarkus McFarland. "He's a great player and he's a brother to us. We're really tight there in the middle and in the trenches. We have to treat the situation like an injury. We love him but we still have to fill his spot. We have to have somebody step up."
Unfortunately for Mike Stoops, the defensive tackle position isn't as deep as the offensive line. They'll have to get creative by moving their best defensive end to the premiere pass rushing defensive tackle spot.
Fortunately it's a position King has played quite a bit in his career in passing situations. You also have to believe a guy that can keep a secret like the suspension of one of their top defensive tackles is also someone who will do whatever he can for his teammates.
"It's really no dropoff with the defensive end and defensive tackles," said King. "We've got to worry about more double teams inside and that's going to be my biggest thing. I played there before, like I said, and the coaches are comfortable putting me down there. Whatever is best for the team is fine with me."
Oklahoma will rely on young, talented, but unproven defensive ends to fill the gap left by King.
Chuka Ndulue is the first to step up and immediately fill King's role.
"Chuka's been really good," said Stoops. "I said that, even in the spring. He's ready to play. He's been doing really well."
The other player to step up is even more of an unknown, converted linebacker Rashod Favors.
"Who's really been impressive is Rashod Favors. That move over there, we've really been excited about," Stoops explained. "Coach Bobby Jack Wright has been talking about him and he keeps showing up and doing things well. He's really strong and powerful. That's been a big positive too at the defensive end spot."
Part of the King plan was to always put him down at a tackle position in passing downs. The Sooners will just use him a little bit more often on the interior now.
Soon the panic will lift, just as it did with the offensive line. King will give up his chance to become a breakout player at the defensive end position after playing so well in Ronnell Lewis' place at the end of 2011.
But like the offensive line, this unit cannot suffer anymore injuries, or suspensions.