The motto for the 2004 Oklahoma Football team is 'Finish'.
And on Monday in Norman, the Sooners started what they hope to finish this January in Miami with their first practice of the season in helmets, shorts, jerseys and shoulder pads at the Rugby Fields.
"Best opening practice we've ever had," said Oklahoma Head Coach Bob Stoops. "As I told you at the press conference today, nobody outworks our guys. They're in great shape so they can give tremendous effort, and that allows us to teach more.
"When guys aren't tired they can retain more. Plus, we have a verteran group, so they know how we practice. All the young guys have to do is pay attention and they've got it."
"I'm really impressed," said senior defensive end Dan Cody. "We're practicing hard. We're really a team. I have a guy that's behind me competing for my job, but he's pulling for me to get sacks.
"Nobody wants me to fail, they want me to win. And I want them to win. I know if I get hurt somebody is going to be good behind me. I just have a real good felling about this team."
The Sooners began practice as they do every summer, with a select group of players, who didn't live up to Strength Coach Jerry Schmidt's summer workout standards, running eight 40-yard gassers in front of the rest of the team.
But the story of the drill this year was who wasn't in that group. Rewind to four summers ago. Jammal Brown, then a defensive tackle, was forced to run the same drills and struggled mightily, even to the point where he tried to skip a sprint and was jumped on by defensive tackle coach Jackie Shipp .
Now, fast forward to today, where it was Brown who jumped out from the sidelines and showed great leadership by running with and encouraging one of the Sooner offensive linemen who was struggling until he finished his run. It was quite an impressive moment and certainly showed who you can expect to be one of the leaders this season.
Below is a position-by-position recap of the highlights from today's workout.
Jason White's Heisman Trophy was nowhere to be found. But in a pretty amazing site, neither were his knee braces. And it seemed to help White's mobility. White looked great throwing the ball in the pocket and on the run. If the first practice is any indication, look for the Sooners to get White out of the pocket a little more this year with his extra mobility.
The next most impressive quarterback without question was true freshmen Rhett Bomar. Bomar, who has the quickest release of the Sooner QBs, looked the part and threw the ball really, really well.
Paul Thompson backed up White and and threw one interception and had two other passes batted down. Tommy Grady was the third QB to take snaps and looked good throwing the ball over the middle on to Willie Roberts.
All eyes were on Adrian Peterson today, but it was KeJuan Jones, Tashard Choice and Donta Hickson who got the first snaps with the first team.
Peterson, along with freshmen D.J. Wolfe, eventually got their shot with the first team. Peterson slipped on his first run, but drew praise from Jammal Brown on his next carry when he ran up the middle and lowered his shoulder on an oncoming safety once he got into the secondary.
But the major news from practice today was that linebacker Russell Dennison has been moved from linebacker to fullback.
"That's something that coach talked to me about in spring," said Dennison. "I've played tailback before in high school. It's kinda like playing linebacker with the contact. I'm just trying to get on the field. They'd like to spell J.D. a couple series a game."
So how difficult will the move be?
"Coach Sumlin is a great coach. He's trying to make it easy for me. There's some motions I forget, but we've got great quarterbacks that remind me. This is a position I think I can like. I know I'm going to be on all the special teams. This is just another way I can help the team."
Wide Receiver/Tight End
It was a typical first practice for the wide receivers. They dropped a couple balls, but for the most part did well with the quarterbacks zipping the balls in better than any QB group ever has at OU.
Mark Clayton, JeJuan Rankins and Brandon Jones ran with the first unit, and there is no question who the leader of this group is.
'Mark, here's what I want you guys to do,' said receiver coach Darrell Wyatt specifically to Clayton before just about every drill.
Backing up the first group was Mark Bradley, Will Peoples and Travis Wilson, followed by Ataleo Ford and the freshmen.
Speaking of the freshmen (Quentin Chaney, Fred Strong and Lendy Holmes), they all looked good. The 6-foot-6 Chaney, whose dreadlocks rival those of defensive back Chijioke Onyenegecha, looked good catching the ball and seems to have more of a strong, lanky receiver physique rather than that of a tight end.
Bradley, who missed spring practice, looks to be 100 percent, and Travis Wilson has managed to drop some weight while maintaining his strength. James Moses worked as the first team tight end backed up by Willie Roberts and Joe John Finley.
Oklahoma's first team offensive line is set with Wes Sims and Jammal Brown at the tackles, Davin Joseph and Kelvin Chaisson at the guards and Vince Carter at center. Carter, who missed spring ball with a knee injury did look good going through each of the non-contact drills.
Backing them up on the second team was Chris Chester at center, Chris Bush and John Flynn at the guards and Akim Millington and Chris Messner at tackle. Bush also worked some at center.
Dan Cody and Jonathan Jackson both started at defensive end with Larry Birdine and Calvin Thibodeaux backing them up. John Williams and Alonzo Dotson ran with the third team.
Dusty Dvoracek looks like a million bucks and Lynn McGruder has slimmed down and looks great. We also got our first look at juco transfer Remi Ayodele, and the big cat looked good teaming with Steven Coleman and Carl Pendleton on the second team. Lawrence Dampeer did go through practice, but told us afterward that he needs a week to get back into playing shape after taking the summer off.
Lance Mitchell (MLB), Clint Ingram (SLB) and Gayron Allen (WLB) worked with the first unit. They were backed up by Demarrio Pleasant (SLB), Zach Latimer (MLB) and Rufus Alexander (WLB). Wayne Chambers and Lewis Baker worked with both the second and third teams.
Antonio Perkins is set as a starter at one corner spot. The battle for the other corner spot began with Eric Bassey working with the first unit. Bassey's main competition on the first day of practice came from Jowahn Poteat, who was impressive getting his hands on several passes.
Poteat started out working with the second unit at corner with Darien Williams, while Marcus Walker and Chijioke Onyenegecha worked with the third team. Watch out for Walker, who has a great work ethic, loves to compete and takes every rep he can.
The Sooners will work out again on Tuesday in helmets, shoulder pads and shorts at the Rugby fields adjacent to the Lloyd Noble Center. Practice is scheduled to begin at 5:45 p.m.
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