Two Minute Drill: Zach Latimer

Senior middle linebacker Zach Latimer talks about winning back his starting spot after offseason shoulder surgery and who's looking good so far in OU's summer workouts. Latimer (pictured above) was second on the team last year in tackles. (AP Photo)

This season, the Oklahoma defense is expected to play up the standards of the Sooners' defenses of 2000, 2001 and 2002, as they are loaded with team speed on defense and figure to be strong in all areas.

At middle linebacker, senior Zach Latimer is recovering from shoulder surgery that cost him the spring. A separated shoulder limited Latimer for most of last year, but he was still the starter and he finished the year with 84 tackles, four sacks and two forced fumbles.

However, missing spring has created a competition at middle linebacker because sophomore Curtis Lofton played well and will go into double sessions with a fighting chance to win the job. Latimer is confident that he will be the starter next season, and the senior from Denver, Colo. recently agreed to talk with for the Two Minute Drill.

JH: Zach, everybody just wants to know if you are healthy?

ZL: "Workouts are going really well and my rehab is right on schedule. I just don't want to rush it back to soon, but I do get fully released in July. I am just trying to catch up with everybody else right now. Everything is right on time."

JH: Do you just do all the leg work right now and all the agility drills?

ZL: "Yeah, I am good and on that running. It hit me over the head real quick. I was just thrown right back into the fire, but slowly but surely I feel everything is beginning to come back. Right now I am just focusing on my upper body just trying to get that straight."

JH: What can you do with weights right now with your upper body?

ZL: "Right now I am just doing all dumbbell work. I can do the barbell, but it is just for precautionary reasons. We just don't want to rush anything too soon. Right now I am just taking it slow and I am just doing all dumbbell work."

JH: How are the workouts with the other linebackers going?

ZL: "It is going good. When we see one person down we all reach out and help him out, because we are a team. We are a unit and we are only as strong as the next person besides you. If somebody is down, we reach out and pick them up."

JH: You have been here for a long time and you have been through these summer workouts of Smitty's for a long time. What are some of the unique things you are doing this summer?

ZL: "Nothing has changed since the first year that I was here. We still get the whole gamut and everything that you have heard about it. We get whatever he has in his mind when he wakes up that is going to get us better today. He is going to come out here and throw it on you. You just have to survive through it, but it doesn't do anything but get you better. You work hard knowing it is going to benefit you in the long run. It hurts going through it, but it will all help out."

JH: What do you think about the competition you will face in preseason camp?

ZL: "I have been facing competition since Day 1 that I was here. There are so many good players on this team, and the coaches bring more in every year. I know there is going to be competition, but I am going to be the starter this year. I am going to be a better player this year than last year, and I had a pretty good season last year. I can do a lot of things better, but I think being healthy finally will help me the most."

JH: Who has impressed you in summer workouts thus far?

ZL: "Man, everybody is impressive. But I will tell you who really stands out to me is Reggie Smith. To see him going through workouts in 7-on-7 is amazing. Every day he just gets better."

JH: So he is playing corner and getting some things done, huh?

ZL: "Oh yeah, he looks like he is going to be the real deal. When it is all said and done, he is going to be one of the best to walk out of here."

JH: I hear that Demarrio Pleasant is having a good summer. What is your take on his progress?

ZL: "Oh yeah, Demarrio comes in here and gets work done in the weight room. Every day you see him hurting, but he still keeps going because he is going to have to be one of many that we are going to have to count on to step up and get something done. He is taking on the challenge and getting it done."

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