Peterson talks about his new starting role

Freshman running back Adrian Peterson discusses everything from his new starting role to growing up a Texas fan in an interview with the local media after Tuesday's practice. (AP Photo/Jerry Laizure)

Oklahoma Head Football Coach Bob Stoops announced today that super frosh Adrian Peterson will get his first career start Saturday against Texas Tech. Junior Kejuan Jones is still bothered by a bad ankle and is not expected to play Saturday. And Donta Hickson has a bruised knee, leaving Peterson, D.J. Wolfe and Tashard Choice in line to get most of the carries.

After Tuesday's practice, AD was allowed to speak with the media for the first time outside of a Sooner postgame press conference to talk about his new opportunity. Here is part one.

JH: What do you think about your opportunity to start for the first time at OU?

AD: "Kejuan is hurt right now so this start is really not a big deal to me. I am really focusing on the team right now. We need somebody to step in for Kejuan and I am going to just go out there and run the ball hard."

MEDIA: Who was the first to tell you that you were going to start? And what was your reaction?

AD: "It was Coach Stoops. I knew that Kejuan was hurt so they needed somebody to take up his spot. I just knew that I had to be more prepared than at any time before, and I just know that I have to be more focused going into this game."

JH: Every player's goal is to start. And if that is the case, have you already reached one of your goals?

AD: "Yes, personally it is a goal to start here at Oklahoma. Like I say, it really doesn't matter as long as we go out there and win. That is all the matters to me. That is more important to me than anything else. It doesn't matter to me if I start, but it is nice to start, don't get me wrong."

MEDIA: Do you feel pretty good about your command of the offense at this point?

AD: "Yes, sir. I feel pretty good."

MEDIA: Where is your command now compared to the Bowling Green game?

AD: "I know a lot more and each week I am learning more about the offense. As we progress and keep going on, I will learn more and more."

JH: When you look back at your first three games with 400 yards rushing in the books, are you running as well as you felt you would be running up to this point?

AD: "There are a lot of things that I can improve on. Jason (White) talks to me all the time about my steps, so in practice I just work on my steps. When I get my steps down then I will get to the hole quicker. I feel I have been doing well, but I have to get better."

MEDIA: You lose Kejuan who is a leader. Is your way to lead is just go out there and make big runs?

AD: "Yeah, Kejuan has taught me a lot of different things and I have been watching him. Now, I am going to be out there doing things that he has taught me and I have to take them and go get them done. I am just going to go out there and run the ball hard, and I feel if I do that then we can keep the running game going. Whoever is in there running the football would be able to do that."

MEDIA: Is it intimidating because you will be the only freshman starting among 10 other returning starters who are all upper classmen?

AD: "Not really, because you can't let that get to you. You just have to go out there and play."

MEDIA: Does it ever get burdensome to walk out in front of 85-thousand people and hear you are the man? Does that ever get tiresome?

AD: "Yes, it is kind of crazy. But it is just part of the things that comes with playing at Oklahoma."

MEDIA: Wwhat do you think when you hear that you are the best running back since Marcus Dupree, Mike Gaddis or whoever? Do those kinds of thoughts get into your head?

AD: "I really don't let them get into my head. People say stuff and I hear it all the time, but I just say thank you and move on. I don't let it get to my head."

MEDIA: You don't go out and look for those kinds of complements?

AD: ‘No, sir."

MEDIA: Did you know that you were on the cover of a major sports magazine right now?

AD: "No, not until somebody showed me."

MEDIA: What did you think about that?

AD: "It was pretty cool."

MEDIA: Was getting publicity like that one of the reasons why you came to OU?

AD: "I guess you can say that was one of the reasons why I came to OU."

MEDIA: During your recruiting so much was made that your decision came down to OU and Texas. Why did you choose Oklahoma?

AD: "I thought overall it was a good program. OU has been in contention for the last two National Championships and three out of the last four Big 12's, so they had a good program. I used to watch how ‘Q' ran the ball and how successful they were then. I felt that I could come in and when I got a chance to play I could fit in real well."

JH: You also said during recruiting that players got better at Oklahoma and they weren't at Texas. Now that you have been in the program for a few months, do you see why that is?

AD: "Yes, we have great strength and conditioning coaches. They work us hard to be the best we can at practice, so that right there shows you why we are so successful on the field."

MEDIA: Growing up in Texas as a kid you were a fan of the Texas Longhorns. Can you tell us about that?

AD: "I grew up a Texas fan and my uncle went to Texas. When I got older I had to make my decision I felt that OU was the best choice for me."

MEDIA: Are you still a Texas fan?

AD: "I am still a Texas (state) fan, because I am from Texas. But I feel that OU was the best choice for me."

MEDIA: How much pressure was put on you to go to Texas?

AD: "There was a lot of pressure, but like I have said I am very happy with my decision. I didn't let that kind of stuff get to me, so my decision to come here wasn't a hard one."

MEDIA: Was the pressure mean or was it friendly?

AD: "You had people joking around and saying different stuff, so at times it was crazy. I always took it in a joking way, but not always I guess. Somebody took out a newspaper ad, a full page, asking me to play my college football in the state of Texas. I just smiled about that and I never bowed down to it. I made my choice based on the best decision for me."

MEDIA: What has it been like for you at OU? Have you been embraced by your fellow students and teammates?

AD: "I have had a lot of fun thus far. College has been everything that I thought it would be."

MEDIA: I know that it is a big game for you Saturday against Texas Tech, but are people already coming up to you talking about Texas?

AD: "Yeah, you know how that is and I hear that all the time. People have been talking about that game for two weeks. We are just going to take it one week at a time."

MEDIA: Since you grew up a Texas fan, then next week is going to be the biggest game of your life isn't it?

AD: "I wouldn't say that, but it is going to be very exciting for me to go back home and play Texas in the Cotton Bowl. I just look at it that way."

MEDIA: Did you grow up impersonating any other running backs?

AD: "Yes, Ricky Williams is a running back that I liked a lot. He was at the games when my uncle played and I used to watch him play. I liked how he would run over people and I took that with me when I played."

MEDIA: Did you every meet him?

AD: "Yes, I met him locker room after a UT game."

MEDIA: How much did your uncle (Chris Smith) influence your decision?

AD: "My uncle is very laid back and he told me that he wasn't here to tell me where to go. He told me to go where I wanted to go. He told me that I was going to have to live with my decision."

MEDIA: Do you still have your Ricky Williams poster up on your wall?

AD: "Yes, that is still up."

MEDIA: Do you feel you would be starting right now if you had gone to Texas?

AD: "I really don't know. I don't think about that at all. I just go out and play and whatever happens, happens."

MEDIA: What is the hardest part for you right now — pass protection?

AD: "I would say that is the toughest part of playing running back at OU."

MEDIA: Why is that, because of all the various blitzes?

AD: "Yeah, but I am getting it down."

MEDIA: Has all the hype that accompanied you here at OU been a burden on you? Or do you like that kind of aura surrounding you?

AD: "It is kind of crazy really, because it really hasn't been a burden to me. I really don't think about stuff like that. I don't feel that I have anything to prove to anybody but to myself and my teammates. I just go out there and play and I really don't care what people think about me. That is the kind of person that I am. It is cool to play in front of 85-thousand people, but I don't worry that they may say that I can't do this or do that."


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