Q&A with Jerry Schmidt: Part 5

Oklahoma Strength and Conditioning Coach Jerry Schmidt talks about which players will take a leadership role this summer and fall, who needs to gain more weight and who has impressed with their speed and strength during the offseason. (Photo by Jerry Laizure/LaizurePhoto)

OUInsider.com continues its exclusive series with OU Strength and Conditioning Coach Jerry Schmidt.

JH: You lost some great leaders from your strength and conditioning program last year when Mark Clayton, Jammal Brown, Wes Sims and Dan Cody graduated. Who steps up now to be the new leaders?

JS: "I think, offensively, you have to look at Davin Joseph, who I think has taken control of his group in a good way. He is always positive and is always talking. But that is OK because he is also going to walk the walk. He is always the first guy in the room and the last one to leave. Basically, his guys can respond to him.

"Travis Wilson has also done a great job in our program. Here is a guy who has made a lot of plays for us, but who works really hard and is probably the biggest receiver we have ever had here. If Travis had come out for the draft, he would have been right up there with some of those other guys. He had a million guys looking at him just because of his great athletic talent.

"On defense, you look at Rufus (Alexander) and Clint Ingram, who has really stepped up and really tried to do things the right way. Dusty Dvoracek and Rufus are really going to do a great job.

"Then you have Eric Bassey, who is a player who I think sometimes people overlook. From Day One, Eric has never complained about anything. He has been a great program guy who has just busted his tail for OU. He is always trying to get better and do whatever he can to help the team special teams wise, or in any capacity on the team that he can. Here is a guy who will outwork everybody, and he has every year that he has been here.

"All of those guys are going to be guys who step up and demonstrate and do whatever it takes for the team. All of those guys are going to step up and say this is what we have to do to get better as a team, and the rest of the team is going to accept it."

JH: You brought up Bassey, who is loved by all the coaches on this team, but not all the OU fans because of mistakes his has made in the secondary at times. However, he is an example of a guy who continues to get chances from the coaching staff because he is talented, but also because he is such a hard worker and team player?

JS: "Here is a guy, who if he didn't work hard, you would have other excuses not to play him because of his struggles on the field at times. However, he is a great guy, who, because he cares so much for OU is given chances to find away to get another chance. He just keeps plugging away despite the fact he may have had a few things that had not gone right for him along the way. Here is a guy who is going to continue to play hard and listen to coaches, and he will put himself in the right position."

JH: Let me ask you about guys that need to get bigger or stronger this season like Chris Chester and Carl Pendleton. Is Chijioke Onyenegecha doing better in his workouts with you? How about the rest of the guys in the back end, like Darrin Williams who is making the move to safety?

JS: "Let me start out with Chris Chester, who came to OU as a tight end that could really run. He is a guy who is real explosive and we need to find a place for him to play. He did a good job before the spring, and before he left following the spring he weighed 283. He has to be a 290 to 295 guy who can handle it, and he has the frame to handle it. I think he can be a really good player because he has a good attitude and he is a good worker.

"Chijioke is a guy who has gotten a lot better, but we still have a ways to go. I think if he can have a good summer then the sky is the limit for him. I told him with his sizem strength and speed there shouldn't be any receivers catch any balls on him. He has great talent, but he has to get his mindset on being tough. Last year he was new into the program. He is mature enough now to respond to it, and I think he will. He had a good May and we are going to have a good summer, so he will be fine.

"Carl Pendleton is a guy who started the year out at 274 to 275 and then lost some weight during the season. In the Big 12, by the time you get to the Championship game if you are down to 265, and then you go to the bowl game that light, you just can't hold up in there. He is a guy that needs to put on 15 pounds this summer, but nobody outworks Carl Pendleton. He is a great guy who is always on time and works his tail off. Carl is a great team guy and he understands what he needs to do to be successful. He went through it and saw first-hand. He knows he can't be light playing in the trenches. I think he will respond pretty well this summer.

JH: Did Pendleton get bigger before the start of spring practice?

JS: "He got up to 278, but he needs to be up to 288 to 290 heading into the year. When he gets into two-a-days he is going to lose a little bit. He just can't lose during the season because once you lose weight it is hard to get it back during the season."

JH: Zach Latimer is another guy that has had trouble putting on weight during his career. He said he was at 235 to 238 following the spring game. Is that where you want him?

JS: "Yeah, he needs to get to 245, and he will. Zach has really matured since he has been here and he has a ton of talent. He just needs to put his weight on and keep it on. Zach always does a great job in the offseason, but he has to have total focus all the way through the offseason, camp and then through the season. I think he will be fine. He has a lot of talent."

JH: Who were some of your most impressive guys at your last testing speed-wise?

JS: "Travis Wilson is the first guy that comes to mind because he weighs 226 and ran a 4.43. We have to watch him because we don't want him to get too big. We kind of like him right around there. He is a real physical player, but a guy who can really run. JeJuan Rankins has always been a 4.4 guy who can really run, but he has been playing with a turf toe. He had a great speed and he is a legitimate 4.4 guy. When he gets that toe totally healed up he will be fine.

"You look at Rhett Bomar, who is a high 4.6 guy that can run and is real impressive. Paul Thompson is a 4.58 guy consistently, but he is really fast and at times can run faster than that. You don't usually see a team with two quarterbacks that can run like that.

"I timed A.D. the first day he was on campus and he ran a 4.42 and a 4.43 with some funky shoes on. He has some old high tops, probably some Reebok Pumps, which is what they looked like. He was real impressive especially when you know that he just drove up here from home and running those times when he just stepped out of the car. Now that is real impressive.

"Marcus Walker is a high 4.4 guy, and he ran that stepping out of the car the first day he was here. Eric Bassey is also a consistent 4.4 guy and has run that since the first day he has been here. Chijioke is a 4.4 or 4.49 guy. He is not in the low 4.4's like everybody thinks he is. However, he can be if he focuses and trains hard and really concentrate on his workouts.

"At linebacker, Rufus had that injury (knee) and that set him back a little bit, but I think if we keep working that he will be back to a 4.55 guy, which will be real impressive. Clint Ingram is a 4.58 guy who has a ton of talent. He just needs to keep his weight and stay physical.

"Dusty Dvoracek is a high 4.8 guy, who weighs 305. Larry Birdine is a 4.85 guy, but a guy who plays faster than that. He needs to keep working and needs to keep getting into better mental shape. Alonzo Dotson is about in that range as well. We have guys on defense that can run, but we just need to continue to help them mature.

JH: How about a guy like Lendy Holmes and some of the young guys? How well to do they really run?

JS: "He is a 4.5 guy. He is not as fast as Mark Clayton and those guys, but he has that start and stop like Clayton had."

JH: From a strength standpoint, who stands out for you?

JS: "Of course, Dusty stands out. He is a 450 bench guy. Davin Joseph is another 450 guy. Rufus is a 400 bench guy, and they all have great leg strength too. Chester is a real explosive guy and Kejuan (Jones) has great leg strength. Sometimes he is overlooked, yet he is a consistent 4.49 to 4.5 guy that people don't think can run fast. He is real explosive.

"AD hasn't tested on the bench in a whilecoming off that shoulder injury. He will probably test at 300 right now, but he is a great worker and will improve that a bunch by the end of camp. We have a good corp of young players who have a good foundation of strength to them. We reel real good about your young players on this squad."

Sooners Illustrated Top Stories