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December 30, 2012

Johnson eager to show skills at bowl

NORMAN — Oklahoma nestled into its headquarters in Grapevine, Texas, on Saturday. The next six days are about mixing fun with preparation for its AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic matchup with Texas A&M.

Left tackle Lane Johnson has made no bones about his intentions. It is a business trip.

“It’s a way for me to make money because I get to showcase my skills against top talent. I think I’ve done that fairly well through the year, but I’m fired up about this opportunity,” he said.

There isn’t a player on OU’s roster who did more to elevate his draft stock over the last four months. The former junior college quarterback, tight end and defensive end has grown into one of the best offensive linemen in the Big 12 with a reputation for big games against elite defensive ends.

He held Texas defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat to two tackles and zero quarterback pressures in the Sooners’ rout of the Longhorns. OU lost to Notre Dame on Oct. 27, but Fighting Irish All-American defensive end Stephon Tuitt had one tackle in that game. TCU’s right end Devonte Field’s was the AP defensive player of the year this season. He was non-factor when OU topped the Horned Frogs 24-17 on Dec. 1.

“You take your most athletic lineman and put him on the conference sack leader and you tell him he’s yours,” OU center Gabe Ikard said. “Lane was up to the challenge and didn’t give him anything.”

It will be a similar scenario when the Sooners face the Aggies. Johnson will be isolated on Texas A&M right end Damontre Moore most of the night. Moore was a consensus All-American this year after posting 121⁄2 sacks. The junior is expected to be a first-round pick if he makes himself eligible for the NFL draft.

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