OUInsider.com has learned that OU All-American and Big 12 100 Meter Champion DaBryan Blanton signed with Team Nike Monday, thus turning pro and forgoing his senior year at OU.
Blanton finished a disappointing fourth in the NCAA Championships, and that coupled with the fact that his track coaches at OU were fired recently pushed him towards the pro ranks.
"It is a sad thing when coaches get fired, especially since they have been my coaches since I have been there," said Blanton from the Junior and Senior USA National Championships in Carson, Calif. "I grew to know them and they grew to know me. It is a sad thing, but stuff like that happens. I understand this is a business and things like that go on in college sports."
"Right now my main focus is to try to do what I need to do up here," Blanton continued. "I have talked to Coach Shannon (Atkinson) and Coach (Rodney) Price and they understand that no matter where they go or where I go, we are still going to have a bond. I think that by all of us coming to understand that, nothing will be lost between us."
Blanton also talked about his new deal with Nike.
"I have just signed with Nike on Monday, so when I step out on the track again tomorrow I am going to be in Nike gear. I think for me to get to the level that I need to race at, I need to turn pro. I need to set up my schedule to train for the big meets, with team USA or internationally, and not have to run in a lot of meets throughout the year. That way I can run fast at every meet and close to my PR (personal record) or to continue to set a new PR.
"That was the main thing, but Nike came with a good offer even though my stock kind of went down in the finals of the NCAA. They still came with a good deal. It was going to be the same deal even if I came out next year, so I thought about it and with the coaching changes, I decided to make the decision to go pro."
Blanton would like to continue to train with Coach Atkinson in Norman. However, there is no guarantee that Coach Atkinson will be back on the staff at OU with the new coach and there is no telling where Atkinson will be coaching in the near future.
Blanton also said that Nike has receommended a couple of sprint coaches that they would like for him to train with, and he is considering that possibility.
OU track star Blanton turning pro
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