OU Football: Brent Venables Talks Recruitment, Jeff Lebby Continues Installing System – 3 Things To Know Before Sooners Start Fall Camp | Sports

Brent Venables has a good feeling about where his team will head to training camp on Friday.

During the players’ first press conference since summer training with strength and conditioning coach Jerry Schmidt, followed by a brief summer break, the first-year head coach said no major injuries plagued his team.

“We’re probably 99 percent healthy, nothing we’re really worried about with the other one percent. Hopefully we’ll have everyone ready to go in the first couple of weeks,” said Venables. “I feel great about the health of our team, the progress we’ve made in the weight room… I think our guys are in a really good, confident and strong position going into camp.”

Another area of ​​focus, Venables says, was key for him and his new hires to continue expanding their company culture this summer, was recruiting. Perseverance left the Sooners in tears in July, adding nine new commits, including seven four-stars.

He said while other schools used to have more commitments, he was more concerned about getting the right suits for Oklahoma. He also mentioned keeping an eye on the long game and making sure recruits have peace of mind and validation in their final decisions.

“Getting the right ones, focusing on the guys that we really wanted to target as the spring progressed, guys that are a really great fit,” Venables said. “And just because they commit doesn’t mean it’s all over. For us, you have to keep recruiting them as if they weren’t committed because you’re not signing until December.”

As for possible position changes in the current roster in spring or summer, Venables has kept it simple and straightforward, with no updates.

“Defensive guys stayed defensive, offensive guys stayed offensive,” Venables said. “We might have some guys who played tackle and moved around inside, or guys inside who play a little bit outside but nothing big.

Lebby looks at Gabriel and Gray

Jeff Lebby announced on Tuesday that he will be calling games from the dressing room this season as he installs his system, which has been successful in recent years.

The Sooners’ offensive coordinator in 2019 had one of the nation’s highest-caliber offenses with Central Florida, averaging 316.7 passing yards and 240.2 rushing yards per game and finishing as the nation’s No. 2 offensive lineman.

He plans to bring the same game plan to Oklahoma with redshirt junior quarterback Dillon Gabriel, whom he coached with the Golden Knights that season. Lebby noted that he’s confident in the Hawaii native’s ability to throw the ball down the field but still needs to be in charge to earn the trust of his teammates.

“We talked about that yesterday,” Lebby said. “If you want to gain a lot of trust from your teammates to know what to do, you have to be present in the group or come from the sidelines and create trust within the group. The greatest thing is simply responsibility and personal responsibility, and knowing what we do makes everyone around us better.”

Alongside Gabriel, senior running back Eric Gray will lead the ground attack. Gray was a double threat playmaker from the backfield last season, catching 23 passes for 223 yards while rushing 78 times for 412 yards. With Lebby’s guidance and running back coach Demarco Murray, the former Tennessee transfer is confident he’ll add to his draft stock as a versatile NFL prospect in Lebby’s plan.

“The defender these days is a versatile player who can play off backcourt and play in backcourt,” Gray said. “We saw that with (Christian McCaffrey), Saquon Barkley and Alvin Kamara. All these guys make a lot of money.

“I didn’t know much about Coach Lebby other than watching Ole Miss offense, but he assured me that this is going to be a great offense for me and a great offense for the team and where I need to be.”

With Oklahoma’s opening game against UTEP on September 3rd, Lebby expects Gray and Gabriel to help realize his vision.

“Of course we will play with pace, we will play fast and we will be aggressive,” said Lebby. “I think just like everyone saw it, we’re going to throw the football on the field, but we’re also going to run the stone. We want to be incredibly balanced. I think at the end of the day we have to find ways to put all our guys in positions for success.”

Linebacker competition

One of the common themes of the offseason and training camp is players vying for starting positions and playing time.

Ted Roof, defensive coordinator and linebacker coach for the Sooners, specifically emphasized the linebacker position as a plethora of competitors. The group is led by six returnees, one transfer and three newcomers, who have so far impressed Roof with their athleticism and work ethic.

“What I like about this group is that there’s a lot of competition,” Roof said. “Whenever there is competition, it makes everyone better. We’re athletic, we have a few guys who can run, but running in shorts is different than running with 40lb gear when you’re trying to chase someone who’s also pretty fast, so we’ll see how that works running (at camp).

“I’m looking forward to moving forward and I like what (the linebackers) have been doing this summer. I like the way they worked. I like the way they’ve engaged in spending the time learning what to do and I know we’re ahead of the game when we left in the spring.”

Some notable players that Roof mentioned and who are fighting for spots are senior David Ugwoegbu vs. sophomore Danny Stutsman and Redshirt senior DaShaun White vs. redshirt senior TD Roof, Ted’s son. Roof also mentioned junior Shane Whitter as someone who had an impressive offseason.

“There’s a lot of competition out there, but it’s competition where there’s respect,” Roof said. “(Ugwoegbu and Stutsman) really care about each other and appreciate what the other brings to the table and have improved on each other. But my job is to bring the group together on the pitch, whoever that is in whatever role.

“(White and Roof) also had a great competition, it made them both better. Because when you compete, when you take a day off or a game, you’re going to be a little bit behind the 8-ball and that just raises everyone’s level, which is a wonderful thing for our football team.”

Leave a Comment