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NFL Draft: Oklahoma’s Walter Rouse, Jonah Laulu Selected on Saturday

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NORMAN: Oklahoma’s roster of NFL Draft picks now stands at twenty-two.

The 2024 NFL Draft completed on Saturday, with defensive lineman Josh Laulu of Oklahoma selected as the 14th pick by the Indianapolis Colts in the seventh round (choice number 234 overall) and offensive tackle Walter Rouse of the Minnesota Vikings selected as the first overall pick in the sixth round (choose number 177).

The Dallas Cowboys selected offensive tackle Tyler Guyton at pick No. 29 overall in the first round on Thursday, marking OU’s 22-year streak of producing at least three NFL Draft selections—the third-longest in the country. 29 years has seen at least two Sooners selected in the draft.

The longest active player draft run in the country, which spanned 16 years for Oklahoma, has come to an end.

In the ten years that Bill Bedenbaugh has coached the Oklahoma offensive line, Rouse is not only the 13th offensive lineman selected in Oklahoma but also the ninth offensive tackle selected nationally.

For the second year in a row, OU had a left and a right tackle selected in the NFL Draft. Guyton, a right tackle, and Harrison, a right tackle (first round selection by Jacksonville) and left tackle (third round selection by Kansas City) in the 2023 draft are the other players Rouse will be joining.

Originating from Silver Spring, Maryland, the 6-6, 314-pound Rouse started 52 of his 53 career games between Stanford (2019–22) and Oklahoma (2023). The one game in his career he did not start was that one. He played left tackle for all but one of his 3,410 career snaps, including all of his starts.

In 2023, Rouse started all 13 games and did not allow a sack on his 480 pass-blocking plays, earning him honorable mention All-Big 12 recognition from the head coaches in the league, according to PFF.

Twice last season—on September 9 at SMU and October 28 at Kansas—he led his team in play as captain. On October 10, he was named the Outland Trophy Player of the Week. He received that award in particular for stopping two defensive players at the same time on OU’s game-winning touchdown throw against Texas in the last 15 seconds.

Rouse, an interdisciplinary studies major who will graduate from Oklahoma in May, played left tackle for Stanford for four seasons before transferring to OU. He made the Pac-12 Academic Honor Roll twice, and in 2022 he was a finalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy. The league’s coaches named him an honorable mention All-Pac-12 performance in 2020, while The Athletic named him a second-team freshman All-American in 2019.

Rivals ranked Rouse as a four-star recruit out of high school and the No. 34 tackle in the country. He was also considered a unanimous top-five recruit in Maryland and ranked as the 36th tackle in the country by PrepStar, 44th by ESPN, and 53rd by 247Sports among other publications.

When time ran out in the 1963 NCAA Championship game versus Cincinnati, Walter (Vic) Rouse, the grandfather of Rouse, made the game-winning shot in overtime. Rouse was an honorable mention All-America basketball player at Loyola University of Chicago.

Laulu played two seasons at Oklahoma (end in 2022 and tackle in 2023) after transferring from Hawai’i, where he spent his first four collegiate seasons. Over the course of 66 games (24 starts), the 6-5, 292-pound Las Vegas native recorded 102 total tackles, 27.5 tackles for loss, and 10.5 quarterback sacks throughout his collegiate career.

Laulu played in 26 games and had six starts during his two seasons at Oklahoma. He finished with 31 tackles, 8.5 TFLs, 2.5 sacks, and an interception. 2023 saw him selected to the Academic All-Big 12 First Team.

Laulu recorded 11 tackles, 3.0 tackles for loss, 1.0 sack, and four quarterback hurries in the first three games of the 2023 campaign. He had 20 tackles, 5.5 TFLs, 1.5 sacks, one interception, two QB hurries, and a pass breakup in 2022. During that season, he started both of Texas Tech’s regular season games against Iowa State and finished with four tackles, one TFL, a pass deflection, and a quarterback hurry. In the Cheez-It Bowl matchup with Florida State, he also started.

Laulu spent his final two seasons at Hawai’i, where he participated in 40 games and made 18 starts in four seasons from 2018 to 21. In all, he recorded 71 tackles, 19.0 TFLs, 8.0 sacks, one forced fumble, one pass breakup, and one fumble recovery.

Despite playing in just half of the season as a senior, Laulu, a two-way player at Centennial High School in Las Vegas, was named to the all-conference team. After completing the Arts and Sciences Planned Program at Oklahoma, he is currently working for a master’s degree in business analytics.

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