Norman — Throughout March, NFL scouts, coaches and general managers have made Norman a very fashionable place to visit.
Sam Bradford’s workout Monday packed the Everest Indoor Training Center with representatives from 21 teams. That, along with Oklahoma’s pro day earlier this month, put the Sooners’ draft eligible players in front of anyone capable of making a selection in next month’s NFL draft.
That fact hasn’t been lost on OU’s current players.
“Man, it shows you this is a place where people are going to come and watch you. You take care of things on the field and play to the best of your abilities, and people are going to come out,” Sooner quarterback Landry Jones said Tuesday. “This is one of the top programs in the country. It seemed like every coach in the NFL has been here.”
Jones joined many of OU’s players for Bradford’s workout. Most are there to support former teammates.
All eyes may have been on Bradford Monday, but most in attendance were there to also see tight ends Jermaine Gresham and Brody Eldridge, or running back Chris Brown. Defensive linemen Auston English and DeMarcus Granger also worked out for NFL coaches prior to Bradford’s exhibition.
Players noticed the spotlight.
“Everybody wants to be on that stage at some point in their career. Everyone wants to be the best player they can be,” running back DeMarco Murray said. “Looking at that, tells you what working hard can do for you when you get to that stage in your career.”
It’s one of the reasons players come to OU. The seven national championships and 42 conference titles are huge selling points. But providing an uncluttered path to the NFL is also part of the lure.
Since the 2001 NFL draft, 39 Sooners have been drafted into the NFL. As many as four OU players — Bradford, defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, Gresham and offensive tackle Trent Williams — could be taken in the first round of this year’s draft. Fans will notice and so will potential recruits.
Tight end Trent Ratterree, a walk-on, knew that coming in. He could recite Sooner football lore in his sleep, but getting in front of NFL eyes is something you have to see to believe.
“It’s a reminder about where you can go if you really buckle down and dig in and work your hardest,” Ratterree said. “At a program like this, we’ve had 150 All-Americans and all that.
“If you do what the coaches tell you and work hard in the weight room, it’s a reminder of what we all do. It’s an affirmation really.”
OU coach Bob Stoops doesn’t bring it up much. He doesn’t really have to. The amount of NFL people around the Barry Switzer Center this month says enough.
“Obviously, if you do well and do things right, people are interested in you,” he said.
John Shinn 366-3536 firstname.lastname@example.org