A few days have come and gone since Big 12 media days. And while the focus was no doubt on zero of the 10 teams and more on expansion, we’ll take a short lookback at how Oklahoma and its five participants fared.
Head coach Bob Stoops
Stoops was on-point all afternoon. Recruits and players alike tend to say how down-to-earth and easygoing Stoops is. The media never sees it. We’re starting to now. Last year felt like a different side of Stoops and that trend continued Tuesday in Dallas. No matter the question, Stoops was ready for an answer. Conference championship game, Joe Mixon, Baker Mayfield’s personality, divisions, his health, nothing was out of bounds. A ridiculous question earned a ridiculous answer but nothing was mean-spirited or condescending. He said he’s realized how much of a recruiting has been entertainment and perception. You can’t appeal to a top 100 recruit by being a curmudgeon. Stoops isn’t that guy, at least right now. Suppose we’ll have to revisit this one again if OU loses a game this season.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield
Now you knew Mayfield was going to be ready for this type of environment. But really this was a more stoic, serious version of Mayfield. For those hoping for an Eric Striker-like performance from last year that was full of laughter and fun, they were sorely disappointed. Mayfield came off genuine, though, when talking about earning another year of eligibility and how he’s still playing with that chip on the shoulder. He gave a lot of praise to his teammates, and you can tell the eagerness of the whole group to work with Lincoln Riley for another year.
Running back Samaje Perine
This was the one to watch. Perine is always genuine and always a good dude, but he’s not someone who embraces the media limelight. He was honest about saying he’d rather play four quarters than go through this. He was honest in saying he was glad Mayfield was there to get the bulk of the attention. Perine never got flustered, but he also didn’t add a lot of insight. For someone who wants to play at the next level (and clearly has the ability to do so), it will be a process for him.
Linebacker Jordan Evans
Sooners Illustrated talked to Evans one-on-one for about 10 minutes, and I think both of us were trying to wrap our heads around how he’s now a senior leader when four years ago at this time he wasn’t offered by OU and was barely 200 pounds. Evans was rather coy about the young guys in the room, but he laid down the challenge for guys like Caleb Kelly, Ricky DeBerry. Evans was refreshingly honest about how playing Houston raises the stakes from a usual season opener and said he’s ready to lead and the defense is ready to answer those questions.
Safety Ahmad Thomas
Thomas emerged late last season as a go-to guy with the media, showing tremendous improvement in articulating what is going on. The frustration was evident in hearing Thomas talk about the Orange Bowl and the national championship game and how he knows he’s putting in the work this summer that maybe he hadn’t done before. Thomas was vocal about young guys like Parrish Cobb and Parnell Motley making nice adjustments to college and said it’s incredibly tough for him to believe he’s already a senior. Sooners Illustrated was able to get Thomas for basically 15 minutes alone Tuesday.
*Sooners Illustrated will have a lot more with Evans and Thomas throughout the next couple of weeks.*