All it took was a simple flick of the wrist for Lawrence Dampeer, the nation's top defensive tackle, to send the Sooner Nation into its first frenzy over the 6-foot-4, 305-pounder, some 36 hours after Signing Day.
With Oklahoma still reeling from the unexpected defection of in-state product Robert Meachem to Tennessee, "Big Moe," as he likes to be called, and his letter of intent to attend OU perhaps preserved the Sooners' top ten 2003 recruiting class.
Four months later, after being signed, sealed and in eight days delivered to Norman, Dampeer, with a crying niece on his lap, gushed about his future at Oklahoma during his recent telephone interview with OUInsider.com.
Last fall, Dampeer, a three-year varsity starter, recorded 80 tackles and nine sacks, despite only playing in seven games due to a sprained ankle. He also played offensive guard and tight end, where he caught three passes and ran 45 yards on a reverse. As a junior, Dampeer tallied 113 tackles and 12.5 sacks. He chose the Sooners over Illinois.
OUInsider.com: Last month, after four attempts, you received news that you passed the ACT with a score of 24, making you a full qualifier at Oklahoma this season. How'd it feel to finally pass the test?
Dampeer: "It was great, because I planned on going to OU, but couldn't until I got my score. Now, I can relax, concentrate on football and continue working out. I'm just glad all that studying for the ACT paid off."
OUInsider.com: Were you confident that you'd pass the ACT?
Dampeer: "I was confident, but yet nervous. I didn't want to brag or boast, because I didn't want to jinx myself. I knew that if I worked hard, God would take care of the rest."
OUInsider.com: Had you not passed the ACT, where would you have attended school this year?
Dampeer: "I would have gone to Hutchison (Kan.) Junior College or Joliet (Ill.) Junior College."
OUInsider.com: Besides Oklahoma, what other schools did you seriously consider before signing?
Dampeer: "Ohio State and Illinois."
OUInsider.com: What separated Oklahoma from those schools?
Dampeer: "Coach Shipp, because he's showed me he's going to be with me every step of the way. Besides that, Illinois didn't really win and Ohio State was really, really nice, but there were some technical problems there."
OUInsider.com: What types of "technical problems?" Were rumors involved?
Dampeer: "Yeah. There was and still is a lot of stuff that's untrue floating around out there."
OUInsider.com: Much to the dismay of Sooner fans, you delayed signing your letter of intent until two days after Signing Day. Why the delay and secondly, during that time, were you sure that you'd attend Oklahoma?
Dampeer: "I was nervous, because I didn't really know where I wanted to go. But, OU really rose above the rest in those final days and made me feel the most comfortable."
OUInsider.com: During your campus visit to Norman in December, who showed you around campus?
Dampeer: "Tommie Harris and Jonathan Jackson. When I went back for the spring game, I spent a lot of time with Tommie, J.J. and Jamaal (Brown)."
OUInsider.com: What are those guys like away from the field?
Dampeer: "Tommie's funny, but he's quiet at the same time. He's fun to be around. J.J. is the laid back guy. He doesn't say much at all. Jamaal's just so crazy. He's a funny, nice guy."
OUInsider.com: When do you plan to move to Norman?
Dampeer: "I'll be there July 7th. Before that, I'll be on my last vacation with my family in south Florida."
OUInsider.com: What do you hope to accomplish during this summer's workouts?
Dampeer: A lot. I'm really excited about getting there and getting after it. God's given me a lot of talent and with Coach Shipp's guidance, I think I'll be pretty good."
OUInsider.com: Who will you room with this year?
Dampeer: "Tony Cade. We hit it off real well at the (U.S. Army) All-American (Bowl) game in San Antonio. We're just getting to know each other, but he's real nice."
OUInsider.com: What are your expectations for this season?
Dampeer: "I'm really excited. Everybody's been talking up Ohio State's offense, because they return all their starters. But they're all forgetting that OU's got the best defensive unit in the nation. We're claiming nothing less than a national championship this year."
OUInsider.com: Your skills on the football field are legendary, but most fans aren't aware of your prowess on the basketball court. Be honest, how good of a basketball player are you?
Dampeer: "I averaged 15 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists this year. I was player of the year in my conference and played in the all-state game."
OUInsider.com: Have you ever considered playing both football and basketball at Oklahoma?
Dampeer: "Most definitely. I'm gonna go out for basketball and try to walk-on. A lot of people don't believe me when I tell them that I can windmill dunk, throw down a 360 slam and dunk backwards with two hands. I just want people to say that I can't do it (play both) and go ahead and do it.
"Honestly, I like basketball more than I like football. Don't get me wrong, I love football and I know that's where I'll make my money, but if I was 6-foot-7 with long arms, it might be a different story."
OUInsider.com: Have you talked with Coach Sampson about playing basketball at Oklahoma?
Dampeer: "No. Not yet at least."
OUInsider.com: Can you see yourself playing for Coach Sampson?
Dampeer: "Yeah, I can see myself playing in an Oklahoma basketball uniform. I'd be the best practice player they have. I could probably score a few points every blue moon. If I played with someone like Hollis Price, I'd be fortune to get rebounds and do little things like that. I think I can play with those guys (OU's basketball players), because I've played lots of AAU basketball."
OUInsider.com: Did you receive any scholarship offers for basketball?
Dampeer: "Yeah, I was talking to Loyola-Chicago, Illinois-Chicago, Illinois State, Indiana State, and I probably could have walked on at Illinois. I also had looks from a couple of Division II and Division III schools. Some junior colleges only wanted me to play basketball if I hadn't qualified."
OUInsider.com: On the basketball court, who do you compare yourself to?
Dampeer: "I pattern my game after Shaq and Chris Webber. A lot of people look at me and don't think I can hit the 17-footer, but once I pop it on them a few times, they have to respect me out there. That's when I go to the paint and really work out. I like making a move and finishing above the rim with a dunk on guys."
OUInsider.com: Not that Sooner fans don't like the idea of you toiling as a power forward for Coach Sampson, but let's get back to football. What are your personal goals this season?
Dampeer: "I want to be a freshman All-American and do whatever it takes to get Tommie (Harris) a (national championship) ring, because he might leave after the season. I want to let him get a ring on his finger. If J.J. stays, maybe we can get two rings together. People don't realize how hard they (Tommie and J.J) work until you look in their eyes. That in itself makes me want to get a ring. I want to help those guys as much as I can.
"All I want to do is contribute (as a freshman). If I can tribute in a big way like Tommie does or like J.J. did in the Rose Bowl , that'd be awesome. I can be that starting defensive tackle that plugs up a hole and makes two or three tackles a game as a good OU role player. I'll do whatever they (OU's coaching staff) need me to do."
OUInsider.com: On the football field, who do you pattern your football game after?
Dampeer: "I love Julius Peppers. I try to do a lot of things he does, because I played a lot of (defensive) end in high school. When I'm inside (playing tackle), I try to stand guys up like Warren Sapp and react to the ball. I've also been watching Tommie (Harris) and learning to bull players over like he does. Basically, I portray my game after all three of those guys."
OUInsider.com: What are your greatest strengths on the football field?
Dampeer: "My agility, speed and ability to read plays."
OUInsider.com: In what areas do you need the most improvement?
Dampeer: "My physical strength and mindset. When I'm tired, I need to learn to tell myself to gut it out more."
OUInsider.com: Earlier, you spoke of the All-American game in San Antonio, where you met and befriended Xaiver Lawson-Kennedy, who shunned Oklahoma on Signing Day to ink a letter of intent with Oklahoma State. What was your reaction to that decision?
Dampeer: "I was shocked, because all he talked about was going to Oklahoma, not Oklahoma State. I still don't understand it (his decision). I was really hoping we could play college ball together."
OUInsider.com: What's your opinion of Xaiver?
Dampeer: "He's a real, real good guy. I'm looking forward to competing against him and getting to know him better."
OUInsider.com: Besides yourself, what other incoming freshman are you looking forward to having as teammates?
Dampeer: "Demario Pleasant, Tommy Grady, Steven Coleman and Akim Millington. I'm just excited to meet new people."
OUInsider.com: What was your most memorable OU moment last season?
Dampeer: "Watching them lose to Texas A&M. After the game, you would have thought they'd lost the national championship. But that loss, didn't stop them and neither did losing to OSU. They rebounded, never gave up on each other and blitzed Washington State in the Rose Bowl. That type of attitude makes me real anxious, because I can't wait to be part of that crimson and creme."
OUInsider.com: What's your opinion of Coach Mike Stoops?
Dampeer: "The first time I met him, he was laid back. After awhile, I definitely noticed he could talk a little bit."
OUInsider.com: Besides high school football and basketball, you also participated in track and field this year. How'd you finish up in the discus?
Dampeer: "I went to state, but I didn't make the finals. I've got pretty good form and my top throw is 170 feet. I'm kind of disappointed I didn't do any better, but I've just got to let it go."
OUInsider.com: What do you plan to major in at Oklahoma?
Dampeer: "Education, because I'd like to be a counselor and coach basketball."
OUInsider.com: What are your thoughts on OU's campus?
Dampeer: "It's kind of small, but it's nice. I like it."
OUInsider.com: Did you get a feel for the weather in your visits to Norman?
Dampeer: "It's hot. I hate heat. I'd rather practice in the cold than the heat, but I'll adjust. I'm not really worried about it."
OUInsider.com: After two visits to Oklahoma, what's your take on the coeds there?
Dampeer: "They're really nice. I got to know a couple of them. They're really strong self-wise, but I could tell they're at OU to have fun too. They've got good women down there."
OUInsider.com: Away from the field, what's your personality like?
Dampeer: "I like to have fun, but when I first met people I'm laid back. When I'm around family and friends, I'm a funny guy I guess."
OUInsider.com: Do you have any hobbies?
Dampeer: "Not really, I play Madden and NCAA Football, but I also like to hit the movies, go out to clubs, relax and go to church service."
OUInsider.com: What's your opinion of the fans at OU?
Dampeer: "It was amazing. Everybody knew me, even little kids and parents. I live ten hours away, but everybody received me with open arms. It already felt like home."
OUInsider.com: Any words for OUInsider.com's subscribers?
Dampeer: "Tell them, I'm not going to let anybody down. I'm going to give them what they want. I'm going to work hard, sign autographs, spend time with the kids and talk to the parents, even if that means I have to sit outside for two hours, because I really appreciate the OU fans.
"When I signed with OU, a lot of people dogged me out for that, instead of staying at home. But that all changed during the spring game at OU. when I was there, a guy walked up to me and introduced himself, I did the same and he said, 'I know you, don't worry about it.' He said, 'Here at Oklahoma, we're going to support you no matter what.' Then he said, 'Just play your hardest, and we're going to be there whether you're winning or losing.' That was awesome, but then he said I'll never forget, ëWe know Illinois wanted you to stay home, but you did what was best for you. We were going to pull for you no matter where you went. We're excited you're here and we want you to give us three or four years of hard work.'
"Three or four years from now, I want to be able to look that same guy in the eye and tell him I that I took care of that for him. I'm going to give him and all the rest of the OU fans exactly what they want: national championships."
Moe knows he wants a title
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