There are players at every school who mean a great deal to that team and go virtually unnoticed to the fans. In fact, by most accounts, everybody wants to move him out of the starting line-up, but he means so much to the players and coaches that there is no way that he doesn't start or play a bunch.
That player on defense for Oklahoma is sophomore defensive tackle Carl Pendleton, who last year stepped into the starting line-up when then senior Dusty Dvoracek was suspended for off-the-field team violations. And while playing undersized, Pendleton gave the Sooners a incredible effort that his teammates and coaches admired.
Pendleton is determined to start again this year, even with Dvoracek back into the line-up. Pendleton is battling Remi Ayodele for the starting DT spot, and with his great work ethic who can bet against him? Between workouts recently, Pendleton stopped to talk to OUInsider.com for the Two Minute Drill.
JH: Talk about the summer and how you guys become a team?
CP: "You have to work hard and you learn how to work though adversity as a team because you count on each other to help pull you through. Every player is showing up on time pushing the hardest through the hardest time of the year getting ready for the season. The season is kind of the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, because we can now see the season in front of us. That drives us to work hard and in the fourth quarter when a lot of teams wear down, we are still going strong. We know the summer is worth it and we just have to keep building towards that season."
JH: So the summer is the most important time of the year?
CP: "Yeah, because I think it is so hard to get out of bed, especially the big guys group because we go at 5:00 p.m every morning. It is just a matter of putting your priorities in place. While everybody is out partying, we have to get in bed about 9:00 p.m to be able to perform at the level we need to. That is just dedication."
JH: You told me at the end of spring that you needed to get some weight on. How is that coming this summer?
CP: "Yeah, it is a lot better right now. I am at 282. I am eating non-stop and it is hard some times. I never thought I would get sick of eating food. I eat probably 1,600 calories before 9:00 a.m. to really help get that weight on. I am about 282 right now. About three more pounds and I will be good for two-a-days."
JH: Some people think you are going to be down this year, but you guys never look at it that way do you? I mean, at Oklahoma the Sooners reload, not rebuild?
CP: "That is the mentality more than anything else. We expect to win. A lot of people don't expect to win, they hope to win. They are just playing for one or two people, but we never expect to lose at all, and as a team that belief is very strong. We expect to win and those expectations carry us through tough times."
JH: Are you excited about the prospect of the front seven and the possibilities that are there for next season?
CP: "Oh, yeah. We have a lot of good freshman coming in and they are going to help us out a lot. We have several guys back with good experience. I know it is going to be a good year for us up front."
JH: How much is it going to help you that you played in all those big games last year?
CP: "It was tremendous getting all those extra reps last year. We have about nine D-tackles this year and that is going to be exciting. We haven't had that many since I have been here."
JH: How much does it help that you played in so many big games last year?
CP: "In those big games, I think you usually play up to the expectation of the opponen. I think that is how we have to do it as a whole team really. I think we all need to have that same expectation and same drive with everybody on our defense. Nobody needs to count on somebody else, because if you take care of your job then that will take care of the team. We need to play as hard as we can every time."
JH: How much does the loss in the National Championship game drive you?
CP: "It is a new year. We have a whole bunch of new guys and new leadership. You can't live in the past, but you can use it as positive motivation if you played in the game. We have a lot of new guys who did not play in the game that are going to be playing for us this year. It was the same thing for me two years ago, because I didn't play in the game in New Orleans. The Sugar Bowl loss was why I wanted to get back into the National Championship game — to experience what the players did before me. I just think there are a lot of new guys that now want their shot at a National Championship."
Two Minute Drill: Carl Pendleton
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