By Michael Kinney
The Norman Transcript
Julian Wilson sees it as a new beginning. Even though the Oklahoma junior was highly recruited coming out of high school, he had yet to make his mark at Oklahoma.
But with the departure of defensive coordinator Brent Venables to Clemson and the return of Mike Stoops taking over, the former Southmoore standout sees an opportunity for a fresh start.
“This spring was basically a fresh new start,” Wilson said. “You only get one chance to make a first impression. Had to go out there this spring and show what I could do. Basically showed them I’m ready to play. Went through winter and summer workouts basically working to get that chance to play. I’ve utilized this spring the most out of any spring I’ve had so far.”
Wilson showed how much he has improved with a strong performance in the Sooners annual Red/White Scrimmage last month. From his cornerback spot, he tied for a game high eight tackles, including two for losses. He also had a sack seven yards behind the line of scrimmage.
“I felt I had a good spring game,” Wilson said. “I graded out above 90 percent. Just make plays. That’s what coach Stoops tells us. Just go out and make plays. If you make plays, you’re going to play.”
In the short time since Mike Stoops took over the Sooners defense, Wilson said he has learned a lot from the former Arizona head coach. His new style has made it easier for him and his defensive teammates. But that also eliminates any excuses.
“He’s a great coach,” Wilson said. “Taught me a lot of things since he’s been here. But he doesn’t play. When you mess up, you’re going to hear about it. You basically just try to go out there and play. Make sure you know your assignment. He shortened the plays down so if you are still messing up your going to hear about it. He just simplified the plays so basically you just have to go out there and play. You really don’t have to think much.”
Wilson hopes his improved play in the spring will transform to increased action in the fall. He saw only special teams duty last season. But he enters the summer workouts vying for back ups roles at corner and fighting to start at nickel back.
While he would have minded seeing more time on the field in his three seasons with OU, he knows he wasn’t ready that first year when he arrived as a freshman.
“Just getting used to the whole college atmosphere,” Wilson said. “You have to get used to balancing school with workouts. It’s a constant grind every day. My freshman year it was hard getting used to that. That’s why I got my red shirt year to get accustomed to things. Once you get in the flow of things you just have to make sure you get better every day.”
The 2012 season starts for the Sooners with a trip to El Paso Sept. 1. By then Wilson wants to have proven he is ready for a bigger role on the defensive unit. He doesn’t plan to let a day go by that he isn’t working toward that goal.
“Basically I want to just have a great summer and a good two-days.,” Wilson said. “You can put yourself on the map in the spring. But nothing is said and done until after two-a-days when you’re going into that first week of camp. I am really excited about this upcoming season. This is the first time I’ve been in a spot to have a chance to play. Just have to keep getting better. I cant get complacent or content. Nothing is final yet.”