NORMAN, Okla. — Lance Donley heads into his senior year fighting for the starting tight end job. However, what makes Donley such a great teammate and a great team leader is the fact he is not worried about who starts, but just about helping the Sooners win games this fall. I caught up to Donley this week after a recent summer workout.
JH: Lance, you look tired (he had just competed sprints). You guys are really getting after it aren't you?
LD: "There is no question about that. This team is unified and together. We know what it takes to win and to win championship. We have been taught very well by our coaching staff and by are upperclassmen last year and the year before. Coach (Jerry) Schmidt and his staff also teach us how to win by giving us the best training methods in the country. I am not saying that we don't try to enjoy our workouts, but we also have a business-like attitude. Everybody is participating and everybody is working hard. We know we have the type of team that can win a national championship this year and we are going to work hard to make that happen.
JH: How have the 7-on-7 drills been going?
LD: "They are an example of what I am talking about. We have a great number of guys who show up every morning and we get after it for about an hour every day. I really like all of our quarterbacks as they all throw an easy ball to catch. They all have their strengths and they all have certain throws they can throw better than others.
"I think we are all catching the ball really well. Brandon Jones and Mark Clayton seem to be doing really well at wide receiver. Brandon has really improved and I think Clayton is going to be known as one of the best wide receivers in the country when the year is over. Again, all the quarterbacks seem to be throwing the ball well to me. Jason has thrown the ball well and I think Paul Thompson has improved each day."
JH: You grew up a Sooner fan, but almost didn't get a chance to come to OU. You were given a scholarship the last minute, and if I remember correctly, you had to de-commit from OSU to sign with OU didn't you?
LD: "That is correct. I almost went to OSU, but that was because I didn't think OU really wanted me. OU was talking to me, but they didn't offer until they offered me and that was after I had committed to OSU. I grew up an OU fan all my life and as soon as OU offered I knew what I had to do. But still, that was a tough situation for me, because I don't like backing out on my word. However, choosing the right college is going to affect the rest of my life and I have known since I was a kid that OU was the right college for me.
"I certainly made the right decision. I have played in a national championship game, played in a major bowl game every year and won two Big 12 Championships. I would say things are going pretty well. The only disappointment has been the losses to OSU, but that is the way it goes. We played hard on both those games and just didn't get it done. I have one more chance at them this year and I think things will be different this time. I have made so many friends here and learned so much about life. This is been a great experience for me and I would recommend a similar experience for anybody."
JH: You have taken on the role of a versatile player. Is that OK with you?
LD: "Sure, because the object is to win football games. Lets face it, as long as Trent Smith was here he was going to get most of the snaps at tight end, so if I was going to get on the field it was going to be as the second tight end, fullback, or on special teams. I just want to play and if it means playing fullback, then I will play fullback. If it means playing offensive tackle, then I will play offensive tackle. I have actually played a lot of football. I know it hasn't been as a starter, but I have played in every game and feel I have played a solid role with this football team."
JH: Trent Smith has finally graduated, but you still have a lot of competition for the starting tight end job don't you?
LD: "Well, there is always competition at every position at OU and we all expect that. Certainly, I expect that. Plus, OU always has great tight ends. I don't know why we don't have more of a reputation for tight ends, because you look through the history books and OU has had some tremendous tight ends. I know I will have to play my best football to win the job during double sessions. I certainly plan on doing that and I am capable of playing some great football. I know that Bubba Moses and Chris Chester are very good young tight ends and will certainly give me a run for my money. I really don't know anything about Will Roberts yet, except he is very tall and can catch the football. What I have to do is play well, work hard and stay focused. I think I have a great chance to win the job, but I know that I will have to play some great football when practice starts."
JH: How good do you think the offense can be next year?
LD: "I think we are going to be great. We have most of our o-Line back and they looking great here in the summer. Vince (Carter) has improved so much in the weight room and Wes (Sims) just keeps blowing people away. Our wide receivers are big and athletic, and I know some of them are going to shock the college football world this year. We lost ‘Q', but we have a number of good running backs. I am looking forward to seeing what KeJuan (Jones) can do with more carries and Renaldo (Works) as well. The offense we added this past spring is going to do a lot for us and I don't think teams are going to be able to guess what we are doing so much. Jason (White) is going to prove to the world that he is a great quarterback and we should be very good this year."
JH: Do you feel a National Championship is a real possibility?
LD: "Without question. We take one game at a time, but we know that our ultimate goal is to win the National Championship. First we have to win the Big 12 South, then the Big- 12 Championship game and then I know we have the talent to win the National Title. However, we can't lose sight of the fact we have to take our season one game at a time."
Donley just wants to win
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