Q&A with Bobby Jack Wright

Oklahoma Defensive End Coach and Recruiting Coordinator Bobby Jack Wright (pictured left) talks about offseason recruiting, the stockpile of talent he has to coach and the holes the Sooners have to fill on defense.

OU Assistant Football Coach Bobby Jack Wright is a legendary assistant coach that coaches defensive ends, special teams and directs recruiting for Bob Stoops coaching staff. It is amazing to this reporter that Coach Wright isn't a head coach at a major university, but for Sooner fans that is a big break for them.

I also don't think any coach has as much fun coaching as Coach Wright. His humor and disposition is something that makes him a special coach to watch and enjoy. Recently, Coach Wright sat down with OUInsider.com for the Two Minute Drill.

JH: As a staff you spent the month of May on the road recruiting. How did you feel that went for you?

BJW: "Yeah, our entire coaching staff went out all over the country and evaluated players. We feel this is strength of ours and something we enjoy."

JH: I realize that Oklahoma and Texas are still your primary recruiting areas, but haven't you expanded to become a national recruiting team?

BJW: "Just speaking for myself, basically, I went to California, New Mexico and believe it or not I went to St. George, Utah to Dixie Junior College and saw a ton of good prospects while I was there. Then I went up and down in Texas a bunch as well.

"We sent guys up North to Chicago, Pennsylvania and Milwaukee or anywhere there are prospects that are interested in Oklahoma. If they are interested in Oklahoma and are considered a good player then we will go anywhere to give them a good look."

JH: Your frequent flyer miles are going to allow you to fly your entire family to Paris or somewhere?

BJW: "That is not true, but I wish it was. It is not quite that easy to stack up that many frequent flyer miles. I might be able to fly to Florida, but the rest of my family would have to stay at home."

JH: You ended spring practice very happy with your group didn't you?

BJW: "Oh yeah, absolutely. We talk a lot about Dan Cody and Jonathan Jackson coming back, and I do think that they are the two best defensive ends in our league and maybe two of the very best in the entire country. I am really pleased with them and where they are at.

"Our back-up help is really starting to develop into some quality players. In Larry Birdine and Calvin Thibodeaux, I am especially pleased with Thibodeaux. He really improved a ton over where he was last season. I really look forward to him next season contributing in a major role as a back-up player — being able to come in and spot our starters and give them a blow.

"Then the young guys — John Williams and Alonzo Dotson — are still learning and they are young, but gifted and talented. They are both enthusiastic and both play the game the way we want it played. They are going to develop into good players, but the good thing about it is that there is not big rush for them to be game ready right now. Since they are not we have a little bit of a luxury there to be a little more patient with those young guys."

JH: You have been trying to develop some depth over the last couple of years, but what you are saying is that you are not going to have to play players before they are ready?

BJW: "That is right, because I think we have four good defensive ends that we could play championship caliber football with. So, with those two young guys we can take our time with them, be patient in the learning process and get them ready to go when those guys leave."

JH: Do you want to run a rotation at defensive end?

BJW: "If you just look at an ideal situation, in my personal opinion, on those defensive ends I would like to rotate them every two series. The exception would be if the game is on the line or it is a critical situation, then there is no question that you want your two best guys out there, and I don't care what series it is."

JH: So when it is crunch time and they are at your 5-yard line, then Cody and Jackson are going to be on the field?

BJW: "Absolutely. When the game is one the line or that series is on the line, then I want the best players we have on the field."

JH: You lost some great players off of last year's defense, but you have recruited so well. Who will be the next Tommie Harris or Teddy Lehman?

BJW: "In the five years that we have been here we have recruited pretty well as you say. There are going to be guys that step in and play very well for us. People are going to be amazed at just how good a player Dusty Dvoracek is. He was overlooked last year and didn't get the credit that he deserved. Dusty is a tremendous football player and he will have a great senior year. He is fired up about it and looking forward to it.

"Everybody is worried about the defensive tackle position, but there are some good players and there are some good young guys coming too. That holds true in the secondary as well and you mentioned at linebacker. Some of these young guys like Lewis Baker and people like him got a lot of snaps this spring. They are going to step in and play very, very well. They will play at a high caliber for us. People will be very impressed with the guys that we replaced all those awards winners with."

JH: What do you think about the new academic standards that the NCAA is going to require for football players and collegiate athletes?

BJW: "I am certainly not against academic standards, and you know how much we expect these guys to get their grades and do well in the classroom. We expect these guys to come in here and play at a high level on the football field, but we also expect them to get a degree and graduate.

"We monitor their classroom attendance as strong as any place that I have ever been. We have a tremendous support group in our academic counseling, and I give Teresa Turner tremendous kudos for what she does over there under Dr. Gerald Gurney's leadership. Those people do a fabulous job, and last year OU was No. 1 in the Big 12 in graduate rates. Now that doesn't always happen every year, and everybody knows that, but that is our goal to be No. 1 in graduation rate and No. 1 on the football field.

"We are not against academic standards or making them tough, but it is almost to the point that if the NCAA is going to go off on this knee-jerk reaction and try to make everybody a Harvard then that is not realistic either. That is the thing that is the biggest concern in that we are starting to see another knee-jerk reaction within the NCAA and just how far are they going to go and to what limits are they going to try to push them through? That is what concerns you the most."

JH: I know you are also making reference to the NCAA's reaction to the recruiting scandal at Colorado, am I right?

BJW: "That is exactly right. The NCAA has already established a committee that has made recommendations and those kinds of things and the NCAA is going to look at those recommendations and move forward on what type of changes they are going to go with in that regard. There will be some changes — there is no question about that. To what extent we still don't know.

"Once again, for every Colorado there are a hundred institutions that are out there doing it right and monitoring their program as closely as they can, trying to ensure that everything is done they way it should be done. We are one of those schools.

"Our President, our Athletic Director and Bob Stoops all expect this thing to be done, done properly and professionally as any program in the country. I think over the last five years you have seen that is how our program has been run, and we would like to be considered the model program in college football academically and athletically.

"Again, our biggest concern is how far are your guys (NCAA) going to go with the changes, and since we have no say in it we are just sitting back and waiting like everybody else for the outcome."

JH: If everybody is on a level playing field then that is all you really care about right?

BJW: "That is right. That is exactly right."

JH: What do you hope your defensive ends enter double sessions at weight-wise?

BJW: "I really don't care what Jonathan comes in at. I have never really cared much about it or talked about it much. He has started for us for three years and he is one of the better players in the league. He is one of the best players on our football team and he is going to be a preseason All-Conference selection. He has a chance to be a high draft choice if he stays healthy. I am not concerned about his weight. If he plays at 240 to 245 and continues to run under 4.5 then I am not concerned about it.

"As I have always told you James we are not as concerned about that weight as we are about that speed. Now if we can both like a Dan Cody then that is even better. There are not many of those cats running around.

"Here is Dan at 265 to 270 pounds and he is running 4.5. If Jonathan could carry 270 and run a 4.45 that would be great, but he can't carry that kind of weight. He doesn't have that kind of build, but he can run 4.4 so that is where the premium for us is. We put the emphasis on speed and so we don't monitor his weight unless he is getting to fat and that isn't going to happen with Jonathan or Dan."

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