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Parker leading OU secondary by example in senior season

University of Oklahoma senior safety Steven Parker stands up following one of his solo tackles in Saturday's 56-7 win over UTEP. (KTUL)

It was a cold Saturday night in Norman, Oklahoma on November 21, 2015. With :51 remaining in regulation, No. 18 TCU took arguably its biggest gamble of the season. The Horned Frogs attempted a 2-point conversion which would've given TCU a 1-point lead over the Sooners.

Setup in a shotgun formation, when the ball was snapped to Bram Kohlhausen, the TCU quarterback rolled out to his right in hopes of finding an open target. Kohlhausen threw towards the back of the endzone. But the only player to put a hand on the ball after that was Oklahoma sophomore safety Steven Parker, who batted down the pass to ultimately seal a 30-29 win.

Those are the kinds of plays OU has come to expect from Parker. He has been the model of consistency for the Sooner secondary and now being a senior, Parker is taking on more responsibility.

"I definitely do," Parker acknowledged. "I mean coaches, they definitely emphasize that for me. But I also emphasize that for myself.

"I gotta come out there and set the tone; just like [Obo Okoronkwo] does; just like [Baker Mayfield] does; just like [Orlando Brown] does. We all gotta go out there and set the tone. We're the older guys and those [underclassmen] look up to us."

Which of course means leading by example. Younger players acknowledge it makes a difference when they see the upperclassmen leading the way on the practice field and on game day.

"That's what a team leader, a team captain does," explained sophomore cornerback Parnell Motley following No. 7 Oklahoma's 56-7 win over UTEP.

"You step up and you set an example out of where men are supposed to be going. And that was great by Steven Parker. He's a great captain and team leader. And set the momentum early."

"Us older guys, we got to get [the underclassmen] on board," Parker said.

"It starts with us with how hard we work and how hard we play. It'll just rub off on the rest of the defense also. It's gonna rub off on everybody. Running to the football; that's a big emphasis on offense, defense, and special teams. I mean really, it's just all about keeping everybody dialed in and ready to go."

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