NORMAN, Okla. – Somethings are just meant to be, but for Oklahoma junior defensive Mark Bradley following his fathers' footsteps to Norman took a little longer than expected.
Bradley, whose father Danny Bradley was a quarterback for Oklahoma from 1981 to 1984, always wanted to be a Sooner despite growing up with his mother in Pine Bluff, Ark. But when faced with pressure from his mother to stay close to home, Bradley decided to not take the college entrance exams needed for a division one scholarship and enrolled at nearby Arkansas Pine-Bluff.
Bradley spent his first year at Pine-Bluff splitting time between quarterback and receiver before tearing an ACL during his sophomore year. It was then that he decided to make the move and try to find more success at the school where his father was the 1984 Big Eight Offensive Player of the Year.
"We all knew what an incredible athlete and player his father was," said Oklahoma Head Coach Bob Stoops, on Mark's father Danny. "When he (Danny) talked about bringing Mark here we were all for it. Mark has fit in really well."
And indeed he has fit in well. Bradley started out last year as a wide receiver and officially made his mark as a scout team quarterback giving the OU defense fits posing as Seneca Wallace the week before the Iowa State game. But the Sooners' lack of depth forced Bradley to move to cornerback this spring, and so far he has impressed the coaching staff.
"In some ways he's not a surprise because we saw his athletic ability on the scout team," said Stoops. "Sometimes he was a better Seneca Wallace than Seneca Wallace. He's almost perfect for our corner position. He has good size and excellent 4.4 speed. He's got the athletic ability to cut and stay with receivers. On top of that, he's a very physical player. So far he's been the most pleasant surprise in spring ball. He's got a chance to be a big time player. He really does."
And after nine practices so far this spring, Bradley has worked his way into a backup role at cornerback.
"It came on pretty slow but now I'm trying to get the into the groove and I'm feeling comfortable out there," said Bradley. "I played corner a couple snaps in high school, but other than that I try to do the best I can do and showcase my talent."
"It really doesn't matter what position I play just as long as I'm on the field being active and doing what I can do to help the team," Bradley continued. "If they want me to play quarterback, I'll play quarterback. Right now they want me to play corner, so I'm playing corner. Just to be a part of this team and be in a situation where I can showcase my talent is a privilege for me."
"He's played really well at corner," said Stoops on Bradley, who has made several interceptions so far this springs workouts. "He picks on things really quick naturally."
Bradley knows he's got a ways to go to get out his fathers' shadow and live up to his namesake, but he's up to the challenge.
"That's some big shoes to fill," said Bradley. "Playing at the same school that he played at, wearing the same number. With the knowledge that I know about what he's done in the past is a lot of big shoes to fill. I think I can fill it up in the next two years."
Bradley making his own mark at Oklahoma
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