Why the Top Center in Texas is Locked in with Sooners

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Owen Hollenbeck often skies over his opponents at 6-foot-4. But his height isn’t the only thing reaching towards the clouds.

The Oklahoma commit plans on majoring in aerospace engineering when he gets to Norman. It’s a topic that he’s been a big fan of his whole life.

“I’ve grown to like it because it’s a lot like football,” said Hollenbeck, DCTF’s No. 1-rated center in the Class of 2025. “It’s a mental challenge. I know there are going to be people better at it than me, but I can put a lot of effort into it to get better.”

That mentality has helped the Melissa, Texas prospect become a DCTF four-star and the state’s No. 43 overall player in the Class of 2025. Although he plans on being a Sooner, he still holds offers from Arkansas, Florida, North Texas, SMU, and Texas A&M.

There are a couple reasons why Hollenbeck chose Oklahoma over the rest. The first was how close he’s gotten with head coach Brent Venables and the offensive line coach Bill Bedanbaugh.

“Oklahoma has been recruiting me since my freshman year,” Hollenbeck said. “I am really close with Coach Bedanbaugh. He’s been really hands on and close in this part of my journey.”

But the biggest thing that drew him in was the atmosphere on his visits. He said he always wanted to attend somewhere that felt like home, and the staff at Oklahoma made him feel like family.

“It’s great and all to get your pictures taken, hang out with players, and look fancy in front of a bunch of fans,” Hollenbeck said. “The best part was just being there with all the recruits, players, and staff.”

All the glitz and glamor of being a high-level recruit hasn’t come without hard work. Hollenbeck remembers going to the FBU series and All-American camps in middle school. It was at these camps that he faced high schoolers while in the seventh grade. Despite it being a challenge, he advises younger players to not be scared to start young and face better competition.

“It’ll challenge you to face off with people older and stronger than you,” Hollenbeck said. “That will only make you a better athlete. You’ll get your tail whipped and get beat up, but it’ll make you better in the end.”

The early work he put in prepared him for his high school career. Hollenbeck started on varsity as a freshman, where he helped the Cardinals to a 11-3 record and a regional final appearance. 

It was also during his freshman year that he knew he could play at the next level. On the field, he was moving defensive linemen with ease. While off the field, he received his first offers from North Texas and SMU after attending camps hosted by Adidas, Nike, and Under Armour. 

But that was just the start.

“Sophomore year I got to visit some schools and honed in on what I liked,” Hollenbeck said. “Summer going into junior year was when I started hitting it big with camps. My family and I traveled to Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, all over.”

His family being there for him through everything means the world to him. He said he doesn’t know where he’d be without them, and that his dad continues to work with him during the offseason.

“Some of the stuff I work with my dad on are off-hand drills and snapping hand drills,” Hollenbeck said. “With snapping, I’m trying to get it down with my footwork and my hands, because I know going into the SEC I have to have fast hands.”

His prospects of playing at the next level has presented plenty of physical challenges throughout his journey. But for Hollenbeck, the mental challenges brought by football have contributed more to his personal growth than anything else.

“At a young age, I had to grow up and be a leader,” Hollenbeck said. “[Football] has always been a big part in teaching me to be a leader and guide others from a distance on how the standard should be.”

That standard for himself? Well, he isn’t going to be satisfied with being redshirted his first year. He wants to earn a starting spot as a freshman, and even though he knows it’ll take hard work, his ultimate goal is to make the NFL.

Even if making it to the league doesn’t work out. Hollenbeck knows he can use his curiosity in engineering to make an impact on another field.

“My whole family is a military family and I’m probably going to be the first not to go into it,” Hollenbeck said. “I want to help out in a way that even if I’m not in the service, I can build or engineer stuff to help out the people that are fighting for my country.”


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