Bassey never gave up despite ups and downs

Senior cornerback Eric Bassey, who will play his last game at Owen Field on Saturday against Oklahoma State, talks about his career as a Sooner. (AP Photo)

Throughout his career, senior Eric Bassey has been misunderstood. He has always been classified as a great athlete, but he hasn't always played like it.

He had the tough task of trying to replace the great Roy Williams in 2002 at a position he wasn't suited to play for, and because he struggled many Sooner fans gave up on him. However, he started all 14 games and was credited with 60 tackles.

Bassey moved to his more natural position of corner in 2003, but never started and hardly played, but returned to the starting line-up in 2004. But again, he drew the wrath of fans for poor to average play. After nine games, Marcus Walker was pulled out of redshirt to replace Bassey and at that point it looked like Bassey would never get another shot at starting for the Sooners.

However, Bassey kept working hard and he caught a break when Coach Bo Pelini left for LSU and Bobby Jack Wright took over the secondary. Coach Wright immediately said that everybody had a clean slate and he soon followed that by saying that nobody worked harder than Eric Bassey.

Bassey earned a starting corner job at the beginning of the year, but injuries eventually took him out of the line-up. Now, entering his final home game as a Sooner Bassey is playing a utility role and he was actually on the field at safety during the Red Raiders game-winning drive against the Sooners. Bassey was one in the secondary who played well during that final drive swatting away a potential touchdown pass on the next-to-last-pass of the drive.

He has always been one of the most popular players on the team, and after practice on Tuesday he stopped to talk to for the Two Minute Drill one more time.

JH: What a strange game you just played against Texas Tech. During your career you have played in a lot of great games, but have you ever played in a game with as many strange plays and calls as that one?

EB: "I have been involved in a lot of games, but what separated that game from any other was the fact that a lot of different things happened, and the fact that there were so many ups and downs in the game. Some things we couldn't control and some things we could, abut it all came down to the very last play with four seconds left. It was a very exciting game and something that all of us will always remember, especially us seniors."

JH: It looked like 'E. Bass' was back at safety making plays in crunch time against Texas Tech?

EB: (laughing) Yeah, who knows where I will end up — back at safety or back at corner. (Laughing still). All that matters is that I am playing football for OU. Seriously, that is all that matters. I will play anywhere and do anything they need me to do, but just as long as it is for OU."

JH: How about lining up along the defensive line and then dropping back in coverage?

EB: (laughing more) Yeah, maybe I will do that this week."

JH: Will you play a little offense in your final game?

EB: "No, I don't think so. I don't want to get anywhere near our offensive line or in the way of any of our offensive guys."

JH: One thing is that you have to stay ready is because Coach Wright will mix and match, which gives a guy like yourself a chance to get into the game in a number of different ways?

EB: "That is one thing that is good about Coach Wright. He will do everything he can to get his best players on the field to fit that situation, even if that means that he is bringing a corner in and matching him up at safety. That is one thing that he can do that gives us an advantage."

JH: You are one of my most enjoyable players to cover because you have been a great team player, always doing what you could to help the team. You stayed the course despite the fact you got benched and you knew fans got mad at you, but you never quit. Nobody ever worked harder than you at practice, plus you were always available for some great quotes. I wish you had another couples of years don't you?

EB: "Yeah, it is going to be hard to say goodbye to all my friends here. Playing in the stadium has been great and I want to thank Coach Stoops for taking all of us seniors under his wing. He has worked hard trying to raise us up to be men, and that is something that I will never be able to replace. There are a lot of things that are replaceable as far as football goes, but the friendships that I made here and all the great friends that I will leave here with is something that I can't replace."

JH: When you think back is it going to be the personalities and friendships you remember more than the victories and games? Or a combination of both?

EB: "Yeah, I think that is it. Even though we have been to two National Championship games during the time I have been here, and even though I have played with and alongside some of the best players to ever play college football, I have done everything there is to do as far as playing college football. We didn't win a National Championship, but I have been apart of every BCS game besides the Fiesta Bowl. As far as those things go, they are some fine accomplishments that I enjoyed doing. But like you said it is the friendships and personalities of everybody that I got to meet that is what is important. I have made some lifelong friendships here."

JH: How much fun has it been for you?

EB: "It has been great and it has been real fun. Even when I was going through hard times during certain seasons, I always had more fun just getting out here on the practice field or on the field. I wouldn't rather be any place else. I couldn't imagine doing anything different or better with this time in my life as a young man coming here and playing football for the University of Oklahoma. That is something that I have enjoyed and something that I can't replace."

JH: You have played every position in the secondary and when you combine that with your overall athletic ability, don't you think you will get a shot at playing in the NFL?

EB: "I think the more than I can be an asset to a team the better off I will be to that team. I can get in there and play in the slot and I can play corner, safety or maybe a nickel linebacker or something like that for some teams. That is just something that I have done here at OU. Some people call that a negative thing, but if you can turn it into a positive then that just makes me that much more of a valuable player."

JH: Is Texas Tech a wild place to play? I heard they were throwing ink on you guys and yelling all kinds of crazy things at you?

EB: "Yeah, it is a wild place. Lubbock itself if kind of wild. It has a little aura to it. I am not sure what it is. It was definitely a wild atmosphere, but it was fun to play in. I would say that Texas Tech and OSU are very similar to play on the road. We always have a wild game when we go on the road to those two places. It was wild at Texas Tech, but it was fun."

JH: What are your thoughts on OSU?

EB: "It is a good matchup as both of us or kind of in similar situations. They are going to get our best shot and we are going to get their best shot. We are going to have to prepare for it and we are going to have to go out there and play a hell of a game to beat these guys. It will be the final game for us seniors and we are going to go out with a victory."

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