By MIKE MOGUIN
GTR Sports Writer
Ricky Stromberg and Darrias Murdock have a lot in common with the game of football. Besides being teammates at Union, where they play on opposite sides of the line among many teammates, they will continue in that status as both seniors recently made verbal commitments to play their college ball at the University of Tulsa.
Stromberg, a 6-3, 320-pound offensive guard, announced his decision via Twitter on June 25. Murdock, a 6-5, 270-pound defensive end, committed to the Golden Hurricane three days later.
“I liked the family aspect of the coaches and it felt like home,” Stromberg says. “It felt right to do it (choose TU) and I think I can go there early and make an impact.”
“It’s close to home,” Murdock says of TU. “I don’t like being too far away from home and I felt like it was the best place for me. That’s why I committed.”
Going together at the same time is also a thrill.
“It’s a very cool thing,” Stromberg says. “Murdock and I have been playing together since we were in the third grade. Now we’re going to the same college together too.”
“I think it’s real cool that I get to spend another four years with Rickey. It just feels more like home,” Murdock says.
Stromberg says he chose the Golden Hurricane over North Texas while Murdock said he went with TU’s offer over one from Missouri State.
They’ll also be joining former teammate Shamari Brooks, a key member of the 2016 Class 6AI state championship team, who is expected to impact TU this season.
Both Stromberg and Murdock are among a crop of local talent attending TU. Other local high schools also have former players making the Skelly Field turf home.
“I think it’s going to be a big impact,” Murdock says. “I think we’re going to win some games (at TU).
Both players enjoy the physicality of the game.
“I like getting to hit people. I think it’s pretty fun to hit people,” Stromberg says.
“You get to hit somebody. That’s my favorite thing – to hit somebody,” Murdock says.
What the guys like about playing on the line revolves around the most important position of the game, each with a different perspective.
“It’s physical. It’s being down in the trenches,” Stromberg says. “In protecting your QB. I feel like a bodyguard when I’m an offensive lineman. So, that’s what I like,” Stromberg says.
“You get to hit the QB, and you get the glory by getting your name out there. When you hit somebody, you get your name on the jumbotron,” Murdock says.
The Redskins relished in the glory of winning state two seasons ago, but were forced to settle for a runner-up finish after falling to Owasso in the state championship game last year.
“It was disappointing losing, because I felt we could have won,” Murdock says. “It was just mental errors. Our focus this year is being more disciplined. We just got to stay more focused and we can win this year.”
“It was shocking because I was expecting to win,” Stromberg says. “The year we won, it was a good feeling. When we lost, it was probably the worst feeling. So, it goes from high to low.”
Both players, as well as the rest of their teammates, are expecting a better outcome in pursuit of a second state title in three seasons.
Stromberg says, “Our theme this year is ‘Uncommon, don’t lose again,’ It speaks for itself right there.”
“Being more disciplined and not losing our head and staying calm will be key,” Murdock says.
“You can expect us to play hard,” Stromber adds. “We’re working hard. You can expect us to bounce back from last season.
Both players are looking forward to the opener against Broken Arrow on Aug. 24, as well as the rematch with Owasso on Sept. 21.
“Those are my two schools that I want,” Stromberg says.
“I look forward to the Broken Arrow game,” Murdock says. “But I still want to play Owasso to get that revenge.”
Unlike last season, apparently Union and Broken Arrow will not be on the national stage being televised by . But, Murdock certainly liked it last year.
“That was a cool experience to get to be on TV,” he says.
After Union plays BA, the Redskins will meet Lake Ridge, a school from Mansfield, Texas at Union-Tuttle Stadium on Aug. 31. That will be followed by the annual Backyard Bowl matchup against Jenks at Chapman Stadium.
After a week off, the Redskins will host Owasso on Sept. 21 for the state championship rematch.
The rest of their slate consists of opponents from the Oklahoma City suburbs, beginning with a road trip to Mustang on Sept. 28.