INDIANAPOLIS – The name is Okung, but it might as well be Oh-King with the attention Russell Okung is drawing at the NFL scouting combine.
The left tackle position has become a premium – and a necessity – in the league, and the talents possessed by the physically gifted blocker from Oklahoma State have been drawing a crowd since he arrived here.
Just don’t expect Okung to join the chorus of those singing his praise.
“It’s really not my place to say whether I agree with it or not,” Okung said Thursday when asked about his top-rated status among the offensive linemen. “I’m just a guy here trying to compete, and whatever happens happens.”
Humble is as humble does, and Okung served up consistent slices of humble pie.
Asked about his readiness to step in and play the blind side in the NFL, he offered, “It’s not the NFL right now. My level of readiness is completely geared toward the combine and bringing my best product out here.”
Asked about the pressure of interviewing with NFL coaches and general managers, Okung, who checked in at 6 feet 5, 307 pounds, said, “I’m going to be honest. I’m going to be upfront with everything. I don’t have anything to hide. Hopefully the coaches will like me.”
Asked about the prospect of being drafted among the top 10 picks, Okung outdid himself.
“I don’t know,” he said. “It’s not my decision to make. It’s not my place to talk about it. I’m grateful wherever I go, whether I’m in the seventh round or undrafted. It’s a huge blessing to even be standing here in front of you guys right now.”
Okung was standing there because the big boys were the centers of attention Thursday, when the tight ends, kickers and punters also made their way into the media room at Lucas Oil Stadium. Friday, the quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers take their turn – including Dez Bryant, Okung’s college teammate and the top-rated wide receiver in this draft class.
“He’s my boy. He’s from Oklahoma State. He’s the best receiver out there,” Okung said. “Dez is going to be a player, mark my word.”
He then added of himself, “I’m just another guy at Oklahoma State trying to make his way.”
There’s even a divine twist to his humbleness. Okung can’t compare himself to any tackles currently playing in the league – or even give his take on which teams could use his talents – because he rarely sees NFL games.
That’s because he’s in church on Sundays. Services start at 1:30 p.m., and it’s a 90-minute drive to get to church.
“We’re a Christian family, built on those type of values,” he said.
That leads to the divine dichotomy in his tale: How does a guy who just talked about hoping to punch his opponents in the mouth more often than they can punch him justify that attitude with a faith he calls the most important thing in his life?
What about turning the other cheek?
“It’s a game, and God made me to play,” Okung said. “He wouldn’t have put me here if I didn’t do the things I do.”
Okung then broke into a large grin before adding, “But that does kind of contradict each other a little bit, doesn’t it?”