The Norman Transcript

Sports

April 25, 2009

Draft fortunes usually bright for Sooners

OU has long been a path to NFL

Wide receiver Juaquin Iglesias and offensive linemen Phil Loadholt and Duke Robinson won’t play another game for Oklahoma. Their collegiate careers ended in the BCS title game back in January. But what paths they take today will still have an impact on the program.

The NFL draft begins at 10 a.m. in New York, and just about every highly touted prep player in the country will take note of who goes where. And, more importantly, where they came from.

“I don’t know that it’s a huge deal,” OU coach Bob Stoops said, “but it does show that you have quality players in your program and you’re doing a good job developing them. It definitely puts a positive light on your program.”

Since the inception of the Big 12 Conference in 1996, 45 Sooners have been drafted into the NFL, including eight in the first round. Only Nebraska (57) has had more taken during that span.

It’s no surprise, corralling that kind of talent has been a major reason OU has dominated the Big 12 the last nine seasons. Since winning that national championship in 2000, OU has had seven players taken in the first round.

OU coaches don’t like to openly promote their program as a path to the NFL. Their big selling point is always going to be the championships and the tradition of success.

“We don’t sit here and develop them for a draft,” Stoops said. “It’s more developing them to be as physical and athletic as they can be and teaching them to be team guys, to win as a team and to be unselfish. To me, it’s just building a player.

“Fortunately, we’ve had guys talented enough that have worked well enough to put themselves in position to be drafted and to have those kind of careers.”

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