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May 8, 2014

Ikard's journey from OU to NFL ready to start

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Gabe Ikard is one of the most intelligent football players to ever play at the University of Oklahoma.

But as smart as the Academic All-American is, he’s still having a hard time piecing together the puzzle of his NFL future just before the NFL Draft gets set to take place.

“Honestly people keep asking me where I’m gonna go and I have no idea. I wish I knew,” answered Ikard when I asked him what teams are showing the most interest during radio interview with WWLS’ Morning Animals. “I wish had a kind of a clue and I wish I could tell you there’s a top five but they pretty much have all called in the last couple of days.”

Ikard knows which coaches are most interested based on recent phone calls, but Ikard says getting calls from offensive line coaches at different organizations doesn’t guarantee him anything at this point.

“I’ve had a couple of offensive line coaches call me - Indianapolis, San Diego, Cincinnati and a couple of other places - and you just want to kind of think that means they like you a little more, but when it comes down to it, those coaches don’t have that much say in who they draft,” he said. “It’s kind of more front office.

“I’ve had several guys tell me they thought they were going to get picked by a team and then someone they hadn’t even interviewed with or gotten a phone call from ended up drafting them. It’s interesting and at this point it’s kind of just being patient and waiting to see.”

The next few days will be tense for everyone involved in the draft process. Even more so for players such as Ikard who attended the NFL Combine during the winter.

Ikard says he’ll watch the first round Thursday night to see some of the players he’s become friends with throughout this process.

“I’ve got a couple of buddies that are going to go first round so I’ll probably watch. That’s a fun thing to watch,” he said. “I’ve become pretty close with Jake Matthews, the tackle from Texas A&M. I know Louis Nix and hopefully he’ll be taken tonight. I became close at the National Football Foundation dinner with Derek Carr and his wife.

“There’s a couple of guys tonight that I’m excited for hoping that they go as early as possible.”

Friday night, rounds two and three will take place. Ikard says he won’t be watching so much coverage, but thinking more about the Thunder’s NBA playoff game against the Los Angeles Clippers.

While waiting on the draft, Ikard has kept himself busy with being a super fan of the Thunder.

Ikard is often seen sitting courtside thanks to his girlfriend. He even made Kevin Durant’s MVP intro video by TNT Wednesday night.

With Ikard already surviving ‘Pastagate’ earlier this year when the University of Oklahoma turned in Ikard, teammate Austin Woods and another athlete for receiving too much pasta during a university function, the news went viral.

But with excess pasta being an issue, surely OU’s compliance department took issue with courtside seats at Thunder games?

“They did some digging and I’m actually compliant official with my girlfriend,” explained Ikard. “We had to sign a signed affidavit that she was not dating me just because I was a football player.”

What? What kind of paperwork does that entail? What is the name of that special NCAA form?

“They kind of drafted it themselves. I said she just likes big guys, just accept it,” joked Ikard.

Now that Ikard is beyond the grasp of OU’s compliance department, he’s able to take advantage of these quirky NCAA issues. He taking full advantage of ‘Pastagate’ Saturday night following the draft.

That’s when Ikard will throw a party with family and friends to celebrate the draft.

“(Olive Garden) asked me if I was doing a draft party or having a get together and I said I was doing a little party after the draft and they volunteered to cater it for free,” said Ikard. “It’s the power of Twitter man. It’s kind of sad but that’s really the truth. I got connected with them during the pastagate thing and I’ve kept a relationship with their social media staff.”

Even though enjoying Thunder basketball and eating extra pasta might have been a hindrance during Ikard’s OU career, it’s all paying off now, providing a much-needed distraction while he waits for his NFL future to be decided.

“I’ve been advised by a bunch of people to not sit around and watch it because it’ll make me crazy,” he said. “I’m going to try to just keep my mind off it and wait and see where I go and be patient.”

Ikard is also spending his free time getting re-acquainted with his first sports love: OU football.

“I’ve basically gone back into being an OU football fanatic,” Ikard said. “Now I just feel like I’m an inside source of information which makes me a very powerful friend to have if you’re obsessed with OU football.

“It’s fun. I grew up loving OU football, loving the University of Oklahoma. I’m going to enjoy rooting these guys on, guys I’ve played with and guys that are my friends. It’s going to be really fun. I’m excited for them.”

That’s the Ikard attitude that has Sooner fans equally excited to hear his name called during the NFL Draft this weekend.



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