Player in Focus: Devante Bond

JuCo linebacker prepares for the first start of his career

When it comes down to it, Oklahoma linebacker Devante Bond doesn’t want to be on the field as much as he’ll have to be Saturday.

With fifth-year senior linebacker Geneo Grissom sidelined for the rest of the season with a sprained MCL, Bond is the next man up.

It’ll be on the JuCo transfer to fill in for Grissom.

“I just have to make sure there’s no let-off from where he left off,” Bond said.

Bond’s road to the field has been a long and winding one.

Bond originally signed with Miami for the Class of 2013. But a mix up in terms of his academic credits didn't allow him to play with the Hurricanes. Instead, Bond wasn't on any field for the 2013 season, simply working out on his own and trying to stay in shape for this season.

“Sitting out that season was really rough, because you’re working out on your own,” Bond said. “It’s hard to keep up with everything, your school work. It was mainly working out and keeping myself in shape, getting ready to come to Oklahoma. I knew I had to keep my bar high. That was definitely the hardest part.”

Grissom had totaled 39 tackles and 3.5 sacks before injuring his MCL in the first half against Texas Tech. Bond enrolled early after sitting out a year. He had to pick up a new defensive system while knocking off the rust in the spring and battle through a pair of injuries (ankle and shoulder) in fall camp.

So finally, here he is. After earning his first bit of playing time in the Red River Rivalry, Bond has worked his way more and more on to the field until finally being forced there by an injury.

“It’s a great opportunity to show what I can do. I feel really bad for Geneo, but the next man has to step up,” Bond said.

The injury-riddled transition has still been a tough one for Bond, who didn’t start playing football full-time until his senior year of high school.

Finding the field has taken awhile, but the mental part of the game has been just as tough for Bond to figure out.

In junior college, Bond was almost primarily a pass rusher or a run stopper – coming off the edge with only one real responsibility. At Oklahoma, he’s had to learn how to drop into coverage, and he’s had to figure out what particular coverage schemes even mean.

“The whole defensive schemes here . . . just knowing when to drop, when to rush, playing different six to eight technique,” said Bond, who grew up in California. “That was new for me. I was just used to playing straight on the edge. I learned a lot from coach (Tim) Kish, just learning defenses, learning what even trips open.

I didn’t know what that meant coming out of junior college.”

Bond doesn’t have any more time to figure it out.

“It’s important to have depth, and not just depth but guys you can really be comfortable and trust and certainly Devante fits that role,” Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. “He’s really earned the right to play more than he has.

He’s a kid that works really hard at what he’s doing. It’s very important to him and he’s only got another year for us. But I think he has a chance to be an impact player in the way he plays.”

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