NORMAN — There is no denying the fact Mark Bradley has a nose for the end zone and an uncanny ability to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. During his initial season at Oklahoma, the son of former Sooner and 1984 Big Eight Offensive Player of the Year Danny Bradley made quite an impression almost every time he touched the ball.
On a his first kickoff return attempt as a Sooner, Bradley raced 100 yards for a touchdown against Iowa State. The first time he ever attempted a pass, he fired a 17-yard TD to All-American receiver Mark Clayton vs. Oklahoma State.
Oddly enough, it took Bradley a little longer to find the end zone from his regular position — wide receiver. In fact, the then-junior did not score until his fifth career reception — a 39-yard TD toss from Heisman Trophy winner Jason White, also against Iowa State.
Last weekend, Bradley continued his magical magnetism toward the end zone with his first rushing TD as a Sooner. Of course, it came on his first career rushing attempt, which added up to a 51-yard reverse play.
Sooners Illustrated editor Jay C. Upchurch caught up with Bradley at OU's weekly media luncheon on Tuesday and looked for some answers concerning the receiver's multiple offensive talents.
Sooners Illustrated: What is it that seems to draw you to the end zone and inspires so many big plays?
Mark Bradley: First of all, you have to be in a position to make big plays. When you are surrounded by great players like Mark Clayton, Brandon Jones and so many others, it pushes you make the most of every opportunity that comes your way. Whatever I can do to help this team win is what I'm going to try to do. There is nothing like taking to the end zone and celebrating with your teammates. It's pretty special.
SI: You've scored running, passing, catching and on a kickoff return — how many ways can you get into the end zone?
Bradley: Who knows? I'm not going to worry about that kind of stuff. I'd rather just focus on what I can do to help the team. If I'm doing that then the opportunities will come my way. Whatever position I'm put in, that's where I'll do my very best.
SI: Does following in your father's footsteps serve as added inspiration for you at OU?
Bradley: He was the offensive MVP of the Big Eight and that's a great accomplishment for any player. For me to be here and knowing I have some big shoes to fill inspires me to be the best player I can be. To be the kind of player he was I have to be at the top of my game and make the most of every opportunity that comes my way.
SI: Does your dad ever keep you grounded when you have a big game by reminding you about his accomplishments?
Bradley: (laughing) He'll throw it out there every now and then. But it's all in fun. He's my biggest fan, so I know he's pulling for me to do the best I can.
SI: What are the biggest differences between OU and the school you played your first two seasons at (Arkansas-Pine Bluff)?
Bradley: It's two totally different worlds. There are 85,000 people who come out to watch the Sooners play on Saturdays. Back in Arkansas, there were maybe 2,000. It's a lot more high profile here and it's a chance to get a degree from a Division-I school that is known world-wide. Considering all aspects, OU is just a better choice for me.
SI: Does it take some getting used to playing in front of 85,000 fans?
Bradley: When I first came here, I couldn't help but notice it and pay attention to it. I'd stand on the sidelines (as a redshirt) and sit in the stands, and just get a feel for the crowd. I kind of come to understand the fans and way they react to certain things. I think that helped prepare me for when I play. Now, I am more focused on what I have to do when I'm playing. You can't let your mind wonder from your job out there.
It's still exciting for me because you can feel the emotion and the energy that comes from the crowd. You feed off of those things, especially when you make a big play or your team does something good. It's an incredible feeling, the vibration that goes all through the stadium.
SI: You've dealt with some injuries throughout your career. How is everything right now?
Bradley: Tip-top shape. I'm as healthy as I've been since I've been at OU. I still need to work on my overall conditioning because I missed some summer workouts due to surgery. You're going to have nicks and bruises throughout the season, but I feel good about where I'm at.
SI: Does this team have a chance to do something special?
Bradley: Most definitely. What I like best about this team is we have multiple weapons. We're not relying on one or two people — we've got a great offensive line and we're four-deep at running back and we've got six wide receivers and the Heisman winner at quarterback. Depth is such a big thing at this level and that's something we've got. We've got a lot of hungry players waiting to show what they've got, and that's such a key to success.
As for goals, you've just got to take them one at a time. We aren't looking past anyone or any game, because when you do that, you fall. It's already happened to a number of teams this season. One game at a time, that's our strategy. Once we put ourselves in the position to look at the Big 12 championship or national championship, we'll look at those games. But not until that happens. Let's just say I like our chances
Bradley Making His Mark
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