It's somewhat rare for a lineman to play extensively as a redshirt freshman at a major program, particularly a program that went on to win a conference title. But that's exactly what Gabe Ikard did just a year ago.
Ikard's smooth transition comes as even more of a surprise considering the fact that most thought he was a top-notch tight end prospect out of Bishop McGuinness (Okla.) High School. As a senior, he caught 29 passes for 542 yards and nine touchdowns. Defensively, he had 68 tackles, six sacks and two interceptions. He was a four-year starter on a three-time state champion basketball team.
But rather than use that athleticism at tight end, or even on the defensive side of the ball, Ikard has added close to 50 pounds to his 6-foot-3 frame. He put that extra weight to good use as a freshman, registering 72 knockdowns on his 679 snaps.
He also got better as the year went on, starting the season's final 11 games of the season and registering a season-high 11 knockdowns at Oklahoma State. Now, he'll enter 2011 as arguably the league's top young interior lineman.
2010 Stats: 72 knockdowns