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Boomer Bio: Eric Mensik
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Sooner O-lineman has made smooth transition
Asked about his receiving skills, Eric Mensik raises his hands to admire them and gets a dreamy look in his eyes.
Then something snaps him back to reality, the reality that he’s no longer a tight end. Mensik is now an offensive lineman — officially. And unlike a year ago, when he was forced inside as a makeshift lineman from tight end due to injuries, this time Mensik looks the part.
“As you can see,” explained still-tight end Trent Ratterree, “if you look at the guy, he has a good build already. And then he put some more weight on that frame. He looks like a good-looking tackle.”
Indications suggest Mensik may be more than looks. He may even become a key figure in OU’s offensive front.
As the Sooners continue a second straight rebuilding process along the offensive line, Mensik has rebuilt his body for a run at a starting spot. After arriving in Norman weighing 231 pounds, the Rosenberg, Texas, product is up to 288, with nearly 30 pounds of that added since last season.
And that’s 30 pounds of good weight, with Mensik now tangling regularly with defensive tackles and ends. Retaining quickness, he now has some bulk to carry into those trench battles.
“I can still run — it’s just a little bit different,” Mensik said. “I’ve got a little more weight. But I got in better shape this summer and it’s really good.”
The move from end to the interior began last season for Mensik, who answered an emergency call for help on OU’s o-line when injuries ravaged the depth chart along the Sooners’ front.
Mensik had actually earned his first college start at tight end against Texas A&M but switched positions — and numbers — before the win over the Aggies was complete. Off went his familiar No. 88, traded for No. 69.
So successful was the switch, Mensik earned starts at tackle in each of the Sooners’ final two games, wins over Oklahoma State and Stanford. While at the time it was thought the move was only temporary, he now appears to be a fixture at tackle.
“I’m good with it,” Mensik said. “I’m actually comfortable there and enjoying the opportunity. It’s been a lot of fun.”
The initial move was more stressful. Not only did Mensik have to adjust to the challenges of a new position — blocking calls and techniques and bigger bodies — he had to stay plugged in at tight end, too.
“Every new game after A&M, I’d go from tight end to tackle, tackle to tight end,” Mensik said. “And I didn’t really know where I was going to play until the day before.
“Now, my mind is more at ease, knowing that I’m going to focus on tackle.”
Who knows? It may be a focus on a new future.
And Mensik isn’t alone, with redshirt-freshman Gabe Ikard also transitioning from tight end to the offensive line.
“They’re both in the offensive line (meeting room),” said OU offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson. “They are full time in that room.”
In 23 games at OU, Mensik totaled just two receptions, both last season for 14 yards. He was a standout tight end at Rosenberg’s Terry High School, catching 17 passes for 359 and four touchdowns, leading the team to its most successful season in history in an offense that averaged more than 50 points a game.
With the Sooners, he was utilized more as a blocker. Now he’s just extending the role.
And at 6-foot-6, 288 pounds, he no longer fits the tight end mold.
“We do give him a hard time,” offered Ratterree, Mensik’s roommate. “I don’t call him Eric, I call him the ‘Big Guy.’
“He’s just so big. But I definitely think it’s going to help him this year. It’ll help all of us.”
Mensik has proven more than willing to help.
And if the Sooners need a helping hand, say in the short passing game…
“Of course, I’ll put my hand up,” Mensik said. “But whether they’ll pick me — we’ll see. Coach Wilson said if they need me on a goal-line situation, they’ll put me at tight end as far as blocking. But that’s as far as it goes.”
Back to reality.
“I’m going to miss it, yeah,” added Mensik. “It’s just one of those things, but I’m not just doing it for myself, I’m doing it for the team. Whatever the team needs me to do, I’ll do.”
(Editor's Note: This story appears in the August 2010 edition of Sooner Spectator. To subscribe, call toll free 1-877-841-8877 today)