Should He Stay or Should He Go?

Caught between Sam Bradford and Landry Jones, Keith Nichol would seemingly be in the ideal situation to transfer. That's what most athletes in his position do, anyway. What will the sophomore dual-threat QB do? Will he stay at Oklahoma or look for greener pastures?

This should be about the time Keith Nichol starts packing his bags and looking elsewhere.

That's what a lot of college athletes in his position would do – and have done – these days.

Nichol, it would appear, is the odd-man-out in Oklahoma's quarterback situation.

Entering his second spring with the Sooners, Nichol, who was not redshirted last season, will be a sophomore next fall along with incumbent starter Sam Bradford (who did redshirt in 2006). As you'll recall, Bradford had one of the best seasons ever by an OU quarterback in 2007.

Behind Nichol is newcomer Landry Jones, a four-star stud from Artesia, N.M., who is tabbed as Oklahoma's quarterback of the future.

That doesn't include senior Joey Halzle, the QB Oklahoma coaches inserted to fill in for Bradford when he went down last season against Texas Tech.

So where does that leave Nichol, who last spring came to campus to compete with Bradford and Halzle for the starting job?

Surely that leaves him looking for greener pastures.

"I'm not backing down. I would never back down just because someone had a good year," Nichol said. "I'm still doing the same thing now as I did the first day I came on campus. I'm still here to go out and compete and win the starting spot."

Nichol and Bradford figured to be the two favorites for the spot last spring and into the fall. Bradford had a better feel for the offense, having redshirted in 2006, and was better throwing the ball.

Nichol had that improvisational skill, the ability to scramble and make things happen when things broke down. Although Bradford won the job, many figured Nichol to get his shot in a game early in the season, especially if and when Bradford struggled.

The thing is, that time never came. Bradford was solid from start to finish.

That no doubt left Nichol, a Lowell, Mich., native, on the sideline contemplating his future.

"I was a little disappointed I wasn't playing, but at the same time the team was doing well and we were rolling," Nichol said. "I'm glad Sam played well because when he played well, the team was doing well.

"It's just from a selfish standpoint that I would get disappointed. I'm really proud of the team, the way we played. It was mixed emotions I guess, but overall I was happy."

Happy enough to stick around, no matter who is here or who's coming to join the fun.

"I'm here to compete. I'm not going to back down," he said. "If I had to transfer I'd have to compete for a starting spot."

Still, Nichol admits, it's not always easy to stay positive.

"It's hard sometimes, but you just have to look at it in the most positive light you can," he said. "If you go out there with a negative mindset, then that's when people say ‘Why are you here?'"

He's got a simple answer.

"I'm here because I feel I'm good enough to play and I'm trying to prove myself just like everyone else on the field is."

Nichol has put on about 15 pounds of muscle since coming to campus and is now about 6-foot-2 (actually it's 6-foot-1 ¾, but he'll tell you 6-foot-2) and weights 202 pounds.

The difference between now and a year ago isn't just physical.

"It's a whole different world," he said. "I was running all over the place because it was the only thing I knew I could do in the passing game because I had no idea what was going on.

"Now I can pass and the running comes second. Now I don't have to scramble for my life."

And that leads to confidence on the field.

"I feel good right now, a lot more confident," he said. "I'm trying to get back to my old self, the way I used to play.

"I fell really good with the progression. Coach (Josh) Heupel's moving me along well. I like this no-huddle. It's kind of similar to what we did in high school."

But Nichol can be both optimistic and realistic about his tenure here. He knows there's a chance he doesn't see the field, except in mop-up duty.

"First and foremost – worst-case scenario – you get a free educatin so it's really not a bad deal, but I'm staying for a lot of reasons.

"A lot of stuff changes, especially in college football, so I'm still here doing the same thing I was on Day 1.

"A lot of people ask that question: Why aren't you going somewhere?"

"I love OU. I love the people here. I'm just here to compete and help the team out. I'm here. I love these guys that I play with."

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