Schmidt busy whipping Sooners back into shape

Oklahoma Strength and Conditioning Coordinator Jerry Schmidt talks about the Sooners offseason traning program and early results.

NORMAN, Okla. — It's the offseason and that means it is Jerry Schmidt time in Norman. Each year at this time Head Coach Bob Stoops says he turns his program over Coach Schmidt and what he says goes within the OU program. If Coach Schmidt has an issue with a player at this time, then they will face Coach Stoops with no questions asked. Coach Schmidt has developed a reputation as the best in the business, and he recently sat and talked with for the latest installment of the Two Minute Drill.

JH: Coach Stoops says you are in charge at this time of year. How does that make you feel?

JS: "That is always special coming from him. Our program always starts with him. It always starts at the top and we have a great coaching staff that really gives me 100 percent support and all my staff members as well. All of our players know how important the offseason is and they buy into it and they work hard."

JH: Your staff will have a new look this spring as you lost two members off to Mike Stoops at the University of Arizona. You are now in the process of hiring their replacements, so who will be where?

JS: "Corey Edmond was with me from day one when we stepped on campus. I can remember him coming in January and he was so impressive. What a gentleman character wise and work habit wise. Corey brought a lot to the table for us to help start a program and to help our young guys get started. He had a great opportunity with Coach Mike Stoops, who knows the importance of strength and conditioning. Corey was Coach Mike's first hire. As soon as he got the job he came downstairs and asked me what I thought of losing Corey. I said that I hated to lose the guy because he is the best out there, but it would be a great opportunity out there.

"I want people to work for me and for our program here to have goals to be a head strength coach and to have high goals. That is what makes Corey so great. He is one of the best in the country, and Coach Mike made the move on him and Mark Hill, who helped me also, and did a great job for me in the weight room. Things are going good when you lose coaches. Things are heading in the right direction when guys do a great job and they get opportunities. I am all for that.

"We just got a new guy in here by the name of Larry Jackson, who played linebacker at the college level and played when he was a freshman. I like to get guys in who have played at both levels. That way they can bring things to the table and provide our players to get better, to get faster and to get stronger. Larry is from Texas A&M and he had a great career there. He was hired on here recently and he is going to do a great job for us."

JH: Will you hire one more soon?

JS: "We have one more coming in who will have more of an emphasis with helping us in football, but mostly helping Coach (Kelvin) Sampson and his program. Coach Sampson is into strength and conditioning as much as we are and he knows the importance of it. I have hired a guy by the name of Darby Rich out of South Carolina, and right now their basketball team is leading the Southeastern Conference. He is a great character guy and he is going to stay with them through the NCAA Tournament. He doesn't want to rock the boat right now, which I respect. He is going to be a great bonus for our program.

"I have moved Scott Kolok, who has been working both basketball and football, and who has a great relationship with both the teams to football full-time. So, we have a full staff now that is really solid and we are just looking for another great off-season."

JH: What is the schedule in your offseason program right now?

JS: "I tell you what we did, we just got through playing in the Sugar Bowl and returned on January 5th. I started the underclassmen, which are about 40 guys who are freshmen and younger players about a week after we got back. They have done a great job, tested and got them into a routine. Our upperclassmen just got through testing and we covered some nutrition classes that I wanted them to learn. We also got all of our class schedules squared away and some goals for what we need for them to get done. So, we are underway and things are going well early with our offseason program."

JH: Who stood out for you during the early portions of testing?

JS: "I guess there was one guy that really hit me between eyes, but they all tested well for having some time off and just finishing playing. We are still trying to get over some bumps and bruises, but Jonathan Jackson weighed 234 and ran a 4.42 and 4.43. Here is a guy that has played well for us and came back and lit it up in the forty. Dan Cody is a great worker, who had a great year, and he ripped off a 4.65 at 252 pounds. We had a number of guys who tested well, but we have a lot of work to do. Offensively, our receivers ran pretty decent for having a little time off, but they didn't run great. However, as a whole, I thought we tested pretty well for having some time off. Now, we need to get to work, re-evaluate this stuff and move on."

JH: Who were your fastest players during testing?

JS: "Brandon Jones and Eric Bassey ran 4.41, so we had some guys in the 4.4 range. Antonio Perkins still has that toe and I did not run him. He would have been a guy who would have run fast. We had some guys like Tashard Choice at 215 pounds run a 4.52. There is a tailback that is a great character guy and really works hard. He started out in January working hard and ran well. Overall, I am pretty happy where we are at right now."

JH: Didn't Lawrence Dampeer run well for you?

JS: "He weighs 314 and he has to get his weight down a little bit. He ran 4.92, which is really good for that weight. If Lawrence gets himself in shape he will be a great player, but we have to make strides in that area and keep working."

JH: Are your three young defensive tackles where you want them to be weight wise and condition wise?

JS: "We trimmed (Steven) Coleman's body fat down 10 percent, which was really good. Give him credit for working hard. He is about 275 and we would like him to play at about 285, but we want him to put it on right. He is about right, but we need to get him stronger. Lawrence just needs to trim his weight down, but that will come when he is focused in and working hard. Carl Pendleton is a little bit light right now and we need to get him a little bit faster. He is about 268 and we would like to have him at 278 to 280."

JH: Is Pendleton going to be a guy that is hard to put weight on?

JS: "Not really, but he is so active that he really watches what he eats. That is good, but we need to up his calorie intake and he will be fine. I have no doubt that Carl will put weight on right and I would rather he put it on right than have to pull bad weight off again and start from scratch again. He is a guy that works hard and does a great job in the weight room. We will continue to work him and make sure that he eats as much as he can, but good foods of course."

JH: Don't you have speed in your young linebackers and do you have their weight where you want them?

JS: "Lewis Baker is at 204 to 205 and we need to get him to 215 to 220, because he has a frame that will handle it. He will get there. He will put on about 10 pounds this offseason and then 10 more over the summer and then he will be where he needs to be. He runs well as he is a 4.5 guy and he can be a major player for us. All those young linebackers will run in the 4.5 to 4.6 range. Demarrio Pleasant is a little bit bigger guy at 235 who runs well, but we need to get him stronger. I know that I continue to say that, but we are at the point in the offseason where guys are just getting started and the program is based on overall strength of your football team. Strength effect your speed and your overall effectiveness of your program."

JH: Is Rufus Alexander back at 100 percent?

JS: "Rufus is back to 100 percent. When he tested he ran a high 4.7, but we will get him where he needs to be. He just continues to get better, but now he can do all the testing and he doesn't have any problem. We just need to break it all down and continue to get better."

JH: Can you get both Joe Jon Finley and Willie Roberts big enough to play this fall to play effectively at tight end?

JS: Joe Jon ran a 4.7 and since he has been here he has put on 14 pounds. We will continue to put weight on him. Willie Roberts has a hard time putting weight on and strength-wise he has really struggled. However, Willie likes to work and we will just start from here and work all the way through the summer to get where we need to be. With his shoes off Willie is a guy that is about 6'6 1/2, and he gives our team a big guy, and a big frame to work with."

JH: What will be the goal for Jason White? He has told me that he will work to regain some of his mobility back this summer? Can he get more mobile?

JS: "Sure he can. He just needs to heal up right now. And in fact, we started to work on stuff — some flexibility stuff about getting his core back where it needs to be. Once he can start moving around we will work on lateral movement and he won't have any problems. Jason is just banged up with your normal quarterback stuff at the end of the year. Jason is a guy who people can question every year, but he is going to be there and nobody should worry about Jason White. He is going to do things, probably more things than he needs to do. He will be a quarterback that will be able to move around in the pocket next year. People don't think he can, but the more people tell him he can't then that is exactly what he is going to do. We know what we have in him and he will be ready to play, so I am not worried about that."

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