Oakman has eyes on a breakout year

Shawn Oakman has lofty goals for 2014.

“[I want to] lead the nation in tackles for loss and sacks,” said the Baylor defensive end.

Unusual dreams for a guy who spent the 2013 season listed as a backup on the depth chart of the 2013 Big 12 champions.

But nothing about Oakman is “usual”. At 6-foot-9, 280 pounds, he is a mountain of a man who moves like a cheetah.

“Shawn Oakman is -- he's just mammoth,” coach Art Briles said. “I mean, if you are looking for a friend, he's a good one to have, if you like winning.”

As a backup defensive end, Oakman finished with 33 tackles, including 12.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, two hurries, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and one blocked field goal as a sophomore. He was difficult to overlook every time on stepped on the field, and it wasn’t just his size that captured your attention as Oakman was active, aggressive and constantly around the ball. It was his first season with the Bears after transferring from Penn State.

“I don’t know many 6-9, 280 guys who are as strong as he is and as fast as he is,” linebacker Bryce Hager said. “He’s pretty special, the talent he has. When he comes off the edge, even if he’s not by the quarterback, he’ll reach out and grab you and take you down with one hand.”

Oakman’s 12.5 tackles for loss ranked sixth in the Big 12, but more than half of those tackles (8) for loss came during nonconference play. His lackluster conference numbers are one reason Oakman entered the offseason with a focus on improving his footwork. He believes he’s gotten better at “staying off the ground” heading into the 2014 campaign.

In terms of consistency, Oakman has a long way to go, but his physical ability is unmatched, making him one of the Big 12’s potential breakout performers this fall. Oakman wasn’t on the preseason All-Big 12 squad, but his name is littered all over preseason watch lists. Expectations are high for the junior defensive end.

“He does a lot of freakish things,” receiver Antwan Goodley said. “With him, you never know what you’re going to get.”

With his goals of leading the nation in tackles for loss and sacks on his mind, Oakman understands it won’t happen without the help of his teammates. Those individual stats and accolades will only come with team accomplishments.

“It’s a team sport,” Oakman said. “The only thing that will get me that is having the other 10 guys around me making every play they can.”