Austin Stogner's mentality with the ball in his hands is simple.
"I run the ball with the same intent every time: to run through a dude's face and go score."
One wouldn't expect anything less from a man who stands 6 feet, 6 inches tall and tips the scales at 260 pounds.
Indeed, Stogner's exceptional size makes him a dangerous weapon in the pass game for Oklahoma, but his competitiveness is what's helped him emerge as one of the primary offensive contributors in 2020 for the Sooners. Recruited as a tight end, Stogner made the transition to H-back before the season, and Jeremiah Hall says he took the change like a fish to water.
"Austin would always want to take so many of the reps," Hall said. "As you guys know, the previous H-backs were me and Brayden most of the time. When Austin got into the rotation, I was like ‘man, Austin is messing up the rotation. But we’re going to let him get in there because he’s just that competitive.’ He just wants to get in the game, whether it is practice or not."
The switch to H-back made plenty of sense, as Stogner is one of the most physically gifted players on the Oklahoma roster. Lincoln Riley typically doesn't employ a traditional tight end in his offensive scheme, but he's made heavy use of the H-back, sometimes utilizing multiple. In his new role, Stogner can impact the game in a variety of ways, and he's been able to parlay the versatility of the position into big early-season numbers.
"I see why the defense is always so confused [by the H-back]," remarked offensive tackle Erik Swenson. "Because right when you think you may have a tendency of what why’re doing, they’re doing the exact opposite thing now. And the way that Coach Riley has worked that into the offense has just been a big help for us on the o-line with extra blockers or for Spencer with an extra receiver downfield."
Through five games, Stogner has 19 catches for 258 yards and a touchdown, and has been an outstanding asset as a run blocker. He's also not afraid to get chippy with the opposition, as Hall indicates that "Big Stog" is one of the team's most fiery trash talkers.
"I love it when he’s talking to the other team as long as he’s under control," said Hall. "As a competitor, you have to let that emotion out. It took me a while to get used to, but he sure is a weapon on the field. I’m never going to hold him back. If anything, I’m going to press him and tell him to keep going."
And why not? With Stogner's size, what is there to be afraid of?
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