It has been one memorable experience after another for Oklahoma senior center Gabe Ikard. His list of awards increase seemingly by the day, and he was able to spend a lot of last week in New York being honored and representing the Sooners.
Not too bad for somebody who was originally recruited as a tight end coming out of high school. What Ikard has become is the unquestioned leader of the OU offensive line and was named a two-time team captain.
Through it all, Ikard said it has been important to him to represent himself and his family well and show everybody what OU is all about. He got that chance last week.
"The trip to New York was a really good time," Ikard said. "I'm honored by the recognition that I have gotten. When it comes down to it, it's only possible because of the great people I have in my life and the great teammates I have on the field."
Where to start when talking about Ikard's awards? Winner of the Wuerffel Trophy, Lee Roy Selmon Spirit Award and Don Key Award. All-Big 12 first team, Academic All-Big 12 first team, AFCA first-team All-American. The honors go on and on.
"Gabe has had a great career here on and off the field," OU coach Bob Stoops said. "He's been a leader up front there and our quarterback at the line of scrimmage. You look at the person he is and everything he's accomplished off the field and the he's been and a student. He's got a bright future for sure beyond football."
But he's not ready to push football to the side just yet. Ikard, like all of OU's seniors, has one last task and that's a win in the AllState Sugar Bowl vs. Alabama.
"They're the most talented team we will play and the most talented team we have played in my four-and-a-half years here so we're excited for the opportunity," Ikard said. "This is what you call a money game for a player. It's one of those games where you can show your ability against the best competition."
Stoops said Ikard is an example of everything that is right about college athletics and about the type of education somebody can get if they put in the work.
"With the facilities and the investment and the support structure we have around our players, if you will use it, you will do well," Stoops said. "You will succeed and earn your degree. Unfortunately not everybody is that interested in it.
"We do all that we can. At Oklahoma, if you miss a certain number of classes, you are suspended so we back up that you are to go to school first. Gabe is a guy that has really used it in the right way."