By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops had no reservation in his voice Wednesday when a fan asked who was going to lead Sooners’ defense this season.
“The leadership we must have to be successful is gonna come from Aaron Colvin and Corey Nelson,” he said. “Those are guys that have been in this program and played a tremendous amount of winning football for us and really contributed in a lot of ways. I look for those two guys to really step forward and be the catalysts for our defense.”
OU is hoping Nelson can make the transition to being an every-down player. Colvin, however, is tasked with changing from a very good player the past two seasons to one of college football’s best defenders. And, oh yes, lead a defensive in the midst of a rebuilding project.
But this is the role Colvin wanted when he decided to return for his senior season. He’s ready to step into the limelight.
“I feel like I’ve been a leader before, my sophomore and junior year, it’s just never been broadcasted,” Colvin said. “But my whole life, that’s what I’ve been doing so I feel like I’m in my comfort zone. Now, I just have to be more vocal, more than just leading by example so I can take my leadership aspect to a whole other level.”
The Sooners are two days into preseason practices that will help this team. Stoops hopes he can reshape the secondary, which will include three first-year starters.
An elite cornerback can provide many options. They can shutdown an offense’s best receiver in man-to-man coverage or cover the sides of the field in zone.
Colvin, who is coming off a junior season where he was an All-Big 12 selection in his first season as a cornerback, has those skills. They were on display last season.
Still, Colvin flew under the national radar. It’s hard to be viewed as an elite defensive back when the defense was giving up big plays throughout the second half of the season.
Colvin believes that will change this season. It’s the second year with Stoops coordinating the defense. There’s no longer an adjustment phase for him or the defense.
“I feel like we’re more comfortable. I feel like guys are out there and we’re flying around because we know what coach Mike expects,” he said. “He just expects you to go out there and play hard and make plays. As a defensive back, that’s what you’re taught to do. You’re taught to go out there and lock up your dude and make plays. Coach Mike, he allows you just to go out there and play and I love that about him.”
Going out and playing is something Colvin does well. This season is the chance to prove he’s one of the college game’s elite cornerbacks.
That opportunity that pushed him back to OU.
“It was about half and half. You know, I have to look to my future, and what’s best for me and my family, but at the same time, I wanted to look at the goals that I set for myself before I even came here,” Colvin said. “A lot of those goals are still out there — actually, all of my goals are still out there — but you know, they’re still in reaching distance. That’s what I’m shooting for this year, and I wanted to finish with my brothers. I want to go out with a bang. I didn’t want to go out like we did last year. That’s what we’re working for.”
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