As spring practice approaches, Kevin Wilson is settling in as the Sooners offensive coordinator. With the addition of James Patton to the staff, Wilson will move to tight ends/fullbacks to make room for Patton to coach offensive line and for Kevin Sumlin to coach wide receivers.
This will give Wilson a little more freedom to devote his duties as offensive coordinator. Recently, Wilson talked about the changes in the coaching office and what the moves will mean to the Sooner program.
JH: You have coached and worked with Coach Patton before at Miami of Ohio and at Northwestern and you know him better than anybody else on the staff. So what will Coach Patton bring to the Sooner program?
KW: "James was a great player at Miami of Ohio years. He was one of the toughest, fierce competitors that I have ever coached. He had a little Dusty Dvoracek in him as he had that kind of get-after-it attitude in his play. He was a team captain and a graduate assistant coach for me and he brings a great deal of juice, passion and attitude to our staff.
"I think he is more of an attitude, effort and toughness coach than an exact, specific and fundamental type coach. I think the kids will love playing for him and he will do a great job recruiting. He is a young, fired up guy that I think is going to be a great addition to our staff.
"We looked at a lot of choices, at a lot of options and we took several weeks internally just keeping things to ourselves. We had flexibility with Coach Sumlin, who was coaching tight ends, but who could coach receivers. We could potentially go that direction if we did hire a tight end coach or we looked at hiring a line coach with me moving to that tight end/fullback spot. We had a number of guys what we considered from the pro ranks through the high school ranks, from guys who are head coaches at certain levels or coordinators and position coaches.
"I think Coach Stoops, as we went through it all, felt good about Coach Patton. I know my comments were if I wasn't coaching the offensive line I wanted to make sure that it was someone that I was going to have a great deal of confidence in. I didn't want to bring in someone that I felt I had to look over my shoulder all the time. I have a great deal of confidence and respect for James. He will do a great job."
JH: Coach Patton says has learned to be a great coach coaching with you in the past, so does he coach a great deal like you do?
KW: "Well, there were three of us kind of going through at the same time. The guy who was his position coach is a guy by the name of Aaron Cromer, who is currently with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I was the line coach, Aaron was the tight end coach and was coaching James. And then James became the GA working for both of us.
"After James GA'd for a couple of years he went to Rhode Island three years, and then came back after that when I went to quarterbacks. I had four years, one at Miami and three at Northwestern, where I was the quarterback coach. Aaron Cromer went from our tight end guy to line and James was our tight end coach. After that 2000 season, Aaron jumped ship and went to the pros with (Jon) Gruden and the Raiders at the time and James became our line coach.
"We were all going through that young stage of young guys who had a lot of energy and a lot of enthusiasm, and I think we were all similar. We all had our own strengths and weaknesses, but I think we all kind of learned from each other. We have are own unique style, but I think we have all had a great effect.
"I am sure he got a great deal from me, but he also got a great deal from Aaron Cromer, who is another guy that I have a great deal of respect for and we were all in that together.
JH: You guys on the current staff look like you coach with a lot of energy, so you are not past that young guy stage are you? What coaching stage are you in now?
KW: "I will tell you that I think I am getting past young and just going on strictly with my mindset, I think. Like I say with James, we looked at different positions and we had numerous guys who had years of college or NFL experience. But I just think that Coach Stoops felt that if the guy was a good enough line coach that he could get me a little more involved in the run game and the pass game.
"At tight end, I am in the inside drill for the run and at seven-on-seven at tight end I am in the pass game. I have less guys that I am involved with on a daily basis, both on the field and off the field. Out of season and in recruiting, it is just a smaller group for me. So if he could find a good line coach, he wanted to go that way and the guy he went after (Patton) has a great background where he is coming from. He is pretty much like the rest of the guys on our staff in that he is a young, successful coach."
JH: Talk about your personal decision to change from the offensive line, where it appears that you really love to coach, to tight ends and fullbacks?
KW: "This was something that I hit Coach Stoops with because I didn't know exactly what he was thinking. A head coach is going to have a different view and until you are the head coach or the AD, or until you are THE BOSS, everything else underneath that boss has just an opinion.
"I had a thought process from the offensive point of view in the offensive staff room and from the offensive meetings. From the offensive practice planning, I felt if we could get a great line coach and if Kevin wanted to go to receivers, because I have a great deal of respect and trust in him, we would have a great receiver coach. That would give me a chance in practice, instead of being in pass pro and going up against Coach (Jackie) Shipp and Chris Wilson's guys and looking over my shoulder watching pass routes out of the corner of my eye, I can now get a chance to get over to that drill.
"This was just something that I felt good about, but I was only going to feel good about it if we got a good line coach. I was only going to feel good about it if Coach Sumlin was pretty solid in being our receiver coach. We gave Kevin some time to really think out and look over some opportunities and figure out what the best move for his situation was. He needed to make sure that was the best move for his situation, not only for our team, but for him, his career and his family.
"Then coach started to weigh things, knowing the daily work that goes on in recruiting, practice and dealing with your kids off the field in academics, weight room and etc. I think he knew the demands of the line and the demands of the coordinator are pretty strong. On gameday, 40 to 60 percent of the time off the field I was there talking to the line. It is hard to get your thoughts for the next drive, the direction that you are moving and the corrections that you are making as a play-caller when you are making those corrections up front.
"There are a lot of things going on in the game and you are making a lot of adjustments up front, and coming up with new alignments based on what you are getting from the defense."
JH: Coach Stoops said in his media conference said that he discovered how troubling it could be when he couldn't get hold of you during the Holiday Bowl because you were coaching up the offensive line.
KW: "I told Coach that I would rather try to be in the box, but I don't think you can be in the box when you coach the offensive line. I had called plays prior for Coach (Randy) Walker for eight years in the box and four on the field, so I have done it from both. I have talked to pro guys and there have been head guys and coordinators who have called the game from the field.
"I just saw (Mike) Holgren call a Super Bowl from the field, but having dealt with it I felt very comfortable coming from Northwestern coaching one position and coaching one guy. I thought that really helped me in my play-calling. I thought we did a good job in the bowl game, but thinking about it I still felt in some ways we could do it better.
"Again, I have a great deal of respect for the guy coming in and I think he will do a great job. I like the way our staff is getting solidified with Josh Heupel working with quarterbacks. He is a guy that knows our system and how things are going. I think James, coming in, knows a great deal about how I want things done,so that is going to be a smooth transition.
"Kevin Sumlin. knowing the position being an old receiver coach, has done a great job in that area in the past. We have some transition, but I have a feeling that it is going to be pretty smooth. We have a lot of excitement and energy going into these moves. Hopefully we can get this young team that we have going and get it solidified and start of a great few weeks of preparation time prior to spring ball and prior to two-a-days."
Wilson on OU's offensive coaching changes
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