NORMAN Okla. — According to Sooner Head Coach Bob Stoops, the best football player he has coached thus far at OU is cornerback Derrick Strait. A four-year starter, Strait has started more games than any other Sooner in history and he capped off his career by winning the Jim Thorpe awards given each year to the nation's best defensive back.
Strait's big play ability will be sorely missed by the Sooner defense this upcoming season and even after the spring the short-side corner is still up for grabs. Strait is getting ready for his career in the NFL and he has been working out for a number of teams in anticipation for Saturday's NFL draft, where he is expected to go in the second round. Strait recently took some time to talk to OUInsider.com.
JH: What are you hearing about your draft status? Do NFL teams tell you any more than we are hearing through various sources?
DS: "I think all of you hear more than I do, but me personally, I try not to listen to it anyway. Whatever they say to you is not going to mean nothing on draft day if they don't pick you. On draft day things are going to be crazy, so it is going to be tough to sit and wait."
JH: Did you go through the combine and go through all the testing?
DS: "Yeah, I have already gone through all of that over and over again."
JH: How much have you actually been picked at and looked at?
DS: "It has been so many times that I have lost count. You have to do a physical for almost every team and they all have their own doctors. You just get pulled on, tugged at and asked what is wrong or what happened from middle school on up. It is crazy stuff."
JH: Did you ever get asked any of the crazy questions?
DS: "They kept those questions for those specialized test and I didn't take that test."
JH: You were easily the best cornerback in college football last year, but you are not projected as the top cornerback in the draft, which probably drives you crazy doesn't it? Do you ever want to just yell at those making the predictions and ask them who actually plays the game better?
DS: "Yeah, you just want to just tell people, but I just go ahead and go with the flow and keep doing what I am doing. Obviously, it is working because I have played for four years for one of the top programs in the nation. I will let my play at Oklahoma speak for itself."
JH: How much is it going to help you in your opinion that you played in such a high level of football at the University of Oklahoma?
DS: "I think it is going to help a lot, because people saw that I have the capability to step up in big games and play well in big games."
JH: There are some draft experts that talk about the OU zone secondary scheme as if it is some kind of negative for you, but it is the same defense that Tampa Bay won a championship with two years ago, wasn't it?
DS: "A lot of pro defenses are just like the one that we ran at Oklahoma, so I don't know why they would say something like that. We do a lot of different things in the secondary at Oklahoma, and I am glad that Coach Mike (Stoops) called a lot of different things because it is going to help me down the road."
JH: What kind of Senior Bowl did you feel like you had?
DS: "For me, personally, I think it was sub-par because I wasn't totally healthy from injuries I suffered in the Sugar Bowl. The Senior Bowl was just two weeks after the Sugar Bowl and that was just too quick after such an emotional and tough game. The Senior Bowl was sub-par for me and I felt like I could have done better."
JH: Do you have a favorite pro team and do you have any inkling at all who has the most interest in your?
DS: "No, I wouldn't say that any team has shown any more interest than any other. They pretty much say the same thing to me anyway."
JH: You have been one of the most amazing great players at the University of Oklahoma. You always seem to come up big in all the big games, so was that because of great natural instincts on your part or what?
DS: "I think it is just a knack for being around the ball. The coaches did a great job of putting me and our defense in the right situation to make plays and I just took full advantage of it really."
JH: You proved everybody wrong in recruiting when you didn't get that many offers and even Texas didn't offer you and you lived right in their backyard in Austin. You have to feel great about that?
DS: "Young players can take a lesson from that. Just because you are not ranked high or just because you are not supposed to be doing this or that, then that doesn't mean that you can't shoot for the stars. You can always be the best player that you can be and you can always strive to be the best player on the field."
JH: How nervous are you going to be on Saturday, and what are you going to try to do on Saturday?
DS: "I am pretty much not going to do anything. I think I am just going to be sitting around with my family and see what happens. The main goal for me is just to be around my family. I am going to be in Norman with my family at Champions Sports Bar or somewhere just watching the draft."
JH: What do you think about Eric Bassey and Chijioke, and all of the players trying to fill your short-side corner position?
DS: "Those guys are going to do a great job. I know that Bassey is going to step in a do a great job because he has already shown he is a big playmaker at corner. When I sat out the UCLA game he started for me and came in and played well for the team intercepting a pass and returned it for a touchdown. His ability speaks for itself. All the other guys have a great ability. I haven't seen Chijioke on the field, but I know that he is a pretty good player. He is actually a great player, because you can't get signed by OU and not be a great player. I know he is going to step in and do a great job as well."
Strait ready to tackle the NFL
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