Cody preparing for senior season

All-American defensive end candidate <b>Dan Cody</b> has overcome a great deal to get to the point where he is entering his senior year at Oklahoma. (Getty Images/Brian Bahr)

All-American defensive end Dan Cody has overcome a great deal to get to the point where he is entering his senior year at OU.

Cody was barley offered a scholarship by the Sooners out of Ada High School, and in fact almost went to OSU because the Cowboys were the only school that offered Cody for a while. Then at OU, he had to prove quickly that he belonged and did earn playing time as a freshman and eventually a starting job by his sophomore year.

However, it was during that sophomore year that Cody suffered from depression, and after starting the opening game of the 2001 season left the team for the remainder of the season. Cody came back and played valuable minutes as a backup in 2002 before emerging as a star last season.

ESPN's Mel Kiper says if Cody would have come out for the draft last season that he would have been a first round draft choice. Cody decided that he could move up to a high first round draft position if he came back, and he also decided to talk about his depression for the first time last season.

Recently after a summer workout, Cody sat down for a few minutes with for the Two Minute Drill.

JH: How are workouts going and how is the team doing in this offseason?

DC: "Workouts are going well. I am in the 10:00 morning group this summer and we have a lot of the skill guys in this group. We have a lot of cornerbacks, running backs and safeties in this group and J.D. Runnells. I call a lot of our guys the gamebreakers because we have a lot of guys in our group who can help change the game. We have been pushing all summer to make all of the young guys understand that we (team) are the one's that change the game and not just the older guys. We have been attacking the workouts, but I just don't know if we understand the responsibility that comes with it yet as a team. That will come as the workouts continue."

JH: Isn't this the time of year when this football team should jell the most as a team?

DC: "There is no question about it, especially when the workouts really start to get hard. Year-in-and-year-out we talk about pushing harder in the summer, and I don't think there is any question that we are the best in shape team in college football. The thing that we don't understand yet as a team is that when we finish this summer we have to take with us what we accomplished to begin the season. It is a starting point for us. All that stuff that we accomplished this summer has to carry over to the season for us to have a successful season. It has to last all the way to the end of the season."

JH: What are your personal goals this summer?

DC: "Well, it goes without saying that I want to improve all my strength numbers, but I don't have a set number. The thing that I have learned here is that as far as our forty times or our bench, as little as we test here, it is not really important. All we are trying to do out here is get 'raw'. We just want to get raw and tough and get as hungry as we possibly can because the hungrier we are the harder we are going to play."

JH: Defensive End Coach Bobby Jack Wright says you are just about the prototype in size and speed that the Sooners want in their defensive ends. What do you think about being the model of player that they try to recruit every year?

DC: "That is a great complement coming from Coach Wright. Coach Wright means a lot to me and there is no question that the way he has worked with me is the reason why my game has improved. When I first came here it was the first time I had ever played defensive end. I owe a lot of credit and success to the coaching. You take a guy who has never played that position before — sure his athletic ability is going to help him, but he has to have a coach telling him what to do and helping him put it all together, and he has definitely been that guy."

JH: Do you pay attention to the preseason magazines? And if you do, what do you think about where you and the team are ranked in the various categories?

DC: "I try to tell myself not to look at them, but it's hard not to. When you see the Big 12 Preview from Athlon's or Lindy's or whatever, you want to pick it up and look at it and see where you personally stand and where you stand as a team. The thing that I learned, especially after last year, is that you can be a nobody and by the end of the year you can be an everything. Just because you were great one year, doesn't mean that you are going to be there again. I think each player needs to start each year with a new slate and work his way to the top. I think that is the best way to approach it."

JH: You are so focused on your own team and winning a national title. Do you even pay attention to what is going on with other teams and players in college football?

DC: "A lot of that I have learned to separate myself from. My past experiences have taught me, especially when I left the team, that as times went on I just separated myself from i, because where you just get a big dose of college football, which is a good thing, but it can bum you out. I just try to get up every day and have a good day and I try to bring that hunger to my workouts. I tell myself to have the best day that I can have. If I watched SportsCenter every day, read magazines or the newspapers or listened to the radio, sorry James, then I would lose focus of what is really important to me. The only thing that is important is OU winning football games, and I don't need anybody to tell me how that is coming along."

JH: Last year talked you publicly about your fight with depression. Do you realize how many people also fight the same problem and how many people came forward or had their problem checked out because you starting talking about it?

DC: "I don't think I realize how many people cared about my situation or how people have reacted to me finally talking about my situation. Most people really don't want to talk about it. I don't have a bunch of people come up to me and talk to me about it, and I don't expect them to. Just the fact that people out there listened to what I had to say and just the fact that I don't have to do anythin, but be in the position that I am and speak my mind, and that can help people is mind-boggling. That is hard to grasp sometimes — that people can just listen to me and say that I have helped them with their problem. I can get so much for doing nothing and it is hard to take credit for that, but that is the way it is sometimes when you are playing football at OU. It certainly makes me have a good feeling inside."

JH: The coaches can't watch you, but you guys are watching each other. Who is impressing you thus far during workouts?

DC: "One of the guys who has really impressed me thus far is Eric Bassey. When he first got here I think maybe his focus was wrong on who he was and what he was on the team, and what the team needed him to be. I worked out with him all last winter and now this summer and I have to say he has worked harder than anybody than I have seen. The way that Eric and Brodney Pool attack weights is impressive. They are doing there lifting with me and J.J. (Jonathan Jackson) and some D-linemen and tossing around some serious weight. I think that speaks a thousand words because those guys aren't the biggest guys on the team, but they are the fastest. They are putting their strength and speed together, and I think the way that those two are going to come together this year will allow them to be big time players."

JH: What are your goals for this upcoming season?

DC: "There is no question that we have a team that can make a run at the national title again. I tell people all the time that we are going to be good every year, but how good we are going to be is up to us, it is up to us on the team. The coaches are always going to have a good plan, we just have to go out there and execute it."

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