Every player that is recruited to play football at the University of Oklahoma comes out of high regarded as good player. All are considered top recruits and they're all certainly expected that play a big role in the future success of the team.
Many of the players live up to their press clippings. Some do it very soon out of high school, but for some it takes them a while to learn the ropes and become the player they are expected to be. In fact, some players have to fail or hit rock bottom before they begin to make an impact on the team.
Such a case is sophomore Fred Strong, who at one point was considered a complete flop as a receiver within the first year. However, Strong has now has worked his way into the rotation at wide receiver and even drew a start last Saturday against UAB.
Starting for the injured Manuel Johnson, Strong hauled in three passes for 27 yards and was the early target for senior quarterback Paul Thompson. Johnson is expected back into the line-up this week against Washington, but Strong has established himself as one of the top six receivers on the team and he will play a key role for the Sooners this year.
On Wednesday, Strong stopped by to talk to OUInsider.com for the Two Minute Drill.
JH: Congratulations for hanging in there and getting a start last Saturday against UAB.
FS: "I appreciate it. Thank you a lot. I have come a long way and I am pretty proud of myself. I had a good time out there Saturday."
JH: You worked hard and kept your nose clean and it is beginning to pay off, isn't it?
FS: "Yes sir. That really is true. When I first got here I was behind Mark Clayton and a bunch of those guys so I redshirted. That was a good experience and I got to learn a lot from them. After that year, Manny (Manual Johnson), Juaquin (Iglesias) and Malcolm Kelly all came in, and even though they are younger than me I learned a lot from them by them being out on the field at a young age. I talked to Manuel Johnson before the game and he was like just go out there and do all your work, do good, try your hardest. Just go out there and have fun. That is what I tried to do Saturday."
JH: Coach Sumlin says he has to see consistency out of his receivers before he will play them. What does that mean to you?
FS: "When it comes to coach Sumlin, he wants you to do everything right. He wants you to not mess up every time. If you mess up in a game once, don't make the same mistakes twice. Keep on catching the ball is our No. 1 goal. If it hits your hands, we need to catch the ball. That is basically what he means by consistency."
JH: So Coach Sumlin has to be able to count on you to catch the ball when you can get your hands on the ball and run your route correctly?
FS: "Yes sir. He always makes sure that you know down and distance when you are out there on the field. That is very important. If it is 3rd-and-3 or 3rd-and-5 or3rd-and-15, what we need to get to that first down marker."
JH: Running that route the proper distance is not always easy to do is it with a corner in your face and a safety on top of you?
FS: "You really have to know your P's and Q's. Anything can happen out there at any time, so you have to make sure you know the down and distance more than anything. You just can't go out there and not know the down and distance, so you might come up short and then the coaches will be on your butt."
JH: The coaches said they felt you had a good game away from the ball, so you must have had a good game blocking?
FS: "Yeah, I had a good game away from the ball. That play that Joe Jon cracked back on I hit me a couple of guys also. I saw him go down so I said I want a shot at it too. I want to have some fun, so I went down and cracked back on the linebacker. Then I tried to look for another person and got him down. I got two knockdowns in the game that were really key and really important to AD's touchdown."
JH: With AD and his ability to run downfield and all the other playmakers on offense you always have, you have to look for your blocks downfield don't you?
FS: "Yeah, anybody in our backfield can bust it wide open so coach Sumlin makes sure that we are blocking every practice. We are downfield cutting and we have to make sure of that, because those players can bust it at any time and at any place."
JH: Blocking for a wide receiver is not easy is it?
FS: "You have to practice it a lot. Sometimes we do a cut drill where we are blocking down field and we are doing all that. We do that a lot at practice so that we make sure."
JH: What are your thoughts on Washington?
FS: "They are really a good team. They have always been a good team. It is going to be a really good game on Saturday and I can't wait to play them."
Two Minute Drill: Fred Strong
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