By John Shinn
After a Heisman Trophy-winning season, there isn’t much Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford can do to improve statistically. After throwing 50 touchdown passes and for 4,720 yards last season, he’s shown he can make good decisions and put the ball where it needs to be.
He said his focus has been on getting better in another area.
“I think leadership is something I’ve tried to improve on every day, and I think that’s still something I can get better at,” he said. “Especially some of the young guys we’re playing with this year, just my demeanor, the way I carry myself in practice and in games, improve and help some of these younger guys.”
Defensive tackle DeMarcus Granger admits he isn’t in game shape yet, but the fact he’s still playing could be a boost to the Sooners. The senior defensive tackle underwent back surgery over the winter and it was a make-or-break procedure as far as his career was concerned.
Without it, he would have to quit football.
“I have to thank the doctors and the trainers they put around us,” he said Friday. “Without them, there wouldn’t be a chance of me being able to come back. The rehab they put me through was amazing and the facilities they put me in were amazing.”
Granger missed all of spring practice due to the back surgery and wasn’t able to go through all of OU’s summer conditioning program.
When practice started Thursday he found out quickly he’s still a long way from being in game shape. He’s currently doing more conditioning than getting practice reps.
“Yeah, it’d be wrong to just throw me in there right now, because after about 15-20 plays, I’m no good,” he said. “As days and weeks go by, I’ll get back and shape and get my weight back down.”
One of the biggest differences between college football now and two decades ago is that players are expected to be in shape when preseason practice begins.
Just about all of the Sooners stay in Norman over the summer. They attend summer school, but they also workout just about every day.
“The old days, when we used to play, you’d be gone most of the summer. You’d show up for two-a-days and that month was to get back in shape and be ready to play,” OU coach Bob Stoops said. “Now they come in shape and you don’t have to do as much conditioning. But others do. Some guys that aren’t in condition, we’ll make it up now to get them in the kind of shape we feel they need to be in to be ready to play.”
Sophomore receiver Jameel Owens is projected as big play receiver for the Sooners. But Stoops singled him out as one who hasn’t made a positive impression in the first few practices.
“There are some things right now where he isn’t where he needs to be,” he said. “Rather than be specific about it, he just needs a lot of improvement.”
Owens played in nine games as a true freshman and caught four passes.