It’s hard to picture it now, as a 6-4, 315-pound senior right tackle for Lamar (Arlington, Texas), but in the eighth grade, Chris Owens was a cross country runner.
“When I was younger, I did a little cross country,” Owens said. “I was in a little better shape than I am now. At one point, I didn’t want to do cross country, so they put me down on the B team. I was actually surprised and I was a little upset about it, so I ran hard and somehow, I came in second place.”
Owens was presented with an Under Armour jersey on Friday as part of the Under Armour All-America Game Selection Tour presented by American Family Insurance. It’s a game he remembers watching when he was little, including the first game in 2008 when Julio Jones played.
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Owens credits his background in several sports — he also played AAU basketball in the summer and competed in the shot put in track — for his strong footwork along the offensive line. He began his high school football career as a defensive end and defensive tackle, but his recruiting didn’t take off until he crossed over to the other side of the field. He committed to Alabama in April and remains a solidly behind the Tide, saying his only official visit will be to Tuscaloosa.
“I’ve only been playing offensive line for two years,” Owens said. “I told myself I was never going to play offense. Last year, we were kind of thin at the tackle position and I was told they recruited a lot more offensive linemen than defensive linemen and at the time, I was worried about not being recruited. My coach told me to just play my game and all that stuff will come. From playing defense I understand what they want to do, so I feel like I’m a step ahead and at certain times in the game, I’ll call out stunts. I know the tendencies of playing defensive end or defensive tackle.”
Owens has helped Lamar jump to a 3-1 start, going into the Vikings’ game Friday night against Bowie, Lamar’s 500th game as a school. Until the Lamar’s 52-24 loss last week to Martin (Arlington), the Vikings had scored more points in each of their games.
“At first it started off a little rough because we had two of our best players go down with injuries,” Owens said. “We got one of them to come back and each week has been better and the offense has been clicking. Even in the loss last week, the score might not indicate it, but we felt like moved the ball pretty well.”
When Owens watches Alabama on TV, he pays more attention to the Tide’s line than he does the ball.
“I definitely watch Cam Robinson,” Owens said. “I watch him and Ryan Kelly closely and see why they’ve been starting as long as they have been.”