Real deal: Sooner great Ryan Broyles' hard work paying dividends in hometown

Ryan Broyles catches a pass during the 2011 Red River Shootout at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.

Ryan Broyles remembers a lot from his playing days at Oklahoma.

But before his time in the spotlight as a top receiver in college football, Broyles remembers his early days in an OU uniform. Specifically, he remembers being a thorn in the side of Brent Venables, OU’s then-defensive coordinator.

The eventual Biletnikoff award finalist was a member of the Sooners’ scout team in 2007, his redshirt freshman season. As a receiver, he gave Venables’ defense plenty of problems.

“I was more [Venables’] player than I was the offense’s,” Broyles said with a laugh. “I was scout team receiver and scout team quarterback, so I gave his defensive guys fits.”

There were a few instances where the two clashed. Specifically, Broyles took it upon himself to add some improvisations to the receiver routes Venables told him to run against the defense.

“He wants it to be a certain way so his defensive guys can cover it,” Broyles said. “And I’m like, ‘I’m just out trying to get better, so I’m not going to run straight into your defense guys so I can get guarded.’ So there were many times he was like, ‘Ryan, run what’s on the piece of paper.’

“I think I got fired up by making him mad, to be honest with you… But he made us better and we made him better. I don’t remember a day he didn’t yell. He was always a vocal, high-energy guy.”

Of course, they always respected each other. And Broyles reaped the benefits, eventually finishing his OU tenure with 349 catches for 4,586 touchdowns and 45 touchdowns.

But that wasn’t the end of their relationship. A few weeks after Venables was hired as the Sooners’ new head coach in December, he gave Broyles a call.

Venables pitched Broyles a new opportunity related to the SOUL Mission, which stands for “serving our common legacy” — and expressed interest in having the former receiver come to speak to the players about finances and real estate. The SOUL Mission is dedicated to the “holistic development” of the Sooner players and includes bringing former alumni back into the program.

Broyles, who returned to Norman after playing four years in the NFL and currently runs Broyles Real Estate Group, was excited about the opportunity.

“He told me he was trying to bring some guys together that come in and talk to these [players] not just about football, but life after football,” Broyles said. “I think he was kind of gearing up to NIL (name, image and likeness) and these kids being smart about the money they receive. So he was looking out for these kid’s pockets and not them just playing on the football field. But Brent recognized that I’ve got to get these old guys back on board.

“They’ve got some things set up for me to go talk to the guys about finances and real estate. I’m just waiting on my turn.’

While excited about the opportunity, Broyles is ultimately pleased with Venables being back in Norman.

“After it felt like [former OU coach] Lincoln [Riley] left overnight, we needed to settle down the fan base and the team and things like that,” Broyles said. “So what better hire could you have than a guy like Brent, who produced at a high level when he was here and won national championships at Clemson?

“It was a great hire. I think he feels at home here and I think all of Oklahoma has felt that same feeling. He’s a team player, family oriented and getting these kids back in shape. It’s OU football. It’s a privilege, not a right, and I think that’s what he’s got these kids buying into.”

• Big 12 announcements: The conference will announce the player participants and schedule for each team on Wednesday ahead of next week’s annual Big 12 Media Days.

The conference will announce its annual preseason All-Big 12 Team Wednesday and the team preseason poll Thursday.

Big 12 Media Days is scheduled for July 13-14 in Frisco, Texas at AT&T Stadium.

Jesse Crittenden is the sports editor of The Transcript and covers OU athletics. Reach him at jesse@normantranscript.com or at 405-366-3580

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