True Sooner

Senior tight end Trent Smith will play his final home game in an Oklahoma uniform Saturday against Texas Tech. The Clinton, Okla. native talked with this week about his career at OU and the other seniors who will play in their final game on Saturday.

I have been covering Oklahoma football for 27 years and I have to admit one of my favorite all-time Sooners is senior tight end Trent Smith. I really got to know Smith well during his senior year at Clinton High School during the recruiting process when he was the top-rated prep tight end in the country.

Smith lived up to that billing at OU, starting for three years and playing a bunch his freshman season. He has always been a class guy and the fact he is a Sooner true-and-true makes him even more appealing.

Smith, along with 17 other seniors, will play their final game at the Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Smith talked to about what it has been like to be player on his beloved University of Oklahoma Sooner football team.

JH: Is it a weird feeling knowing that Saturday will be your last game on Owen Field?

TS: "That game is going to be a very emotional game for me. I love playing on that field and wearing that uniform and I wish my time at OU would never end. It's not that I am not looking forward to the future, because I am, but I am having the time of my life right now. It is a game where I have invited a lot of people to the game that are close to me. I haven't invited many of them to a game here before, because it is a big hassle to get tickets from teammates. Everybody has family and when you are winning tickets are not easy to find. They are not easy to find on the street either. I guess it is time to close this chapter and finish the book, and then I need to start another book on what I am going to be doing next. It has been fun and I am looking forward to playing in our last home game and the rest of my classmates are to."

JH: Are you surprised how fast it has gone?

TS: "I can sit here and say that it is gone by in a blink of an eye, but on the other hand that I can sit here and tell you that it has been a long five years. Everything but the painful times went by pretty fast."

JH: There are not many players remaining from your original signing class is there?

TS: "Let's count them up. You have Brad Davis, Chike Ozumba, me, Curtis Fagan, Nate (Hybl) is a fifth-year guy, Antwone Savage, Quentin Griffin and Mike Skinner is a fifth-year guy. The only guy on defense is Andre (Woolfolk). Minus Frank (Romero), Rocky (Calmus) and Roy (Williams), that is all that is left from my class. We came in 25 to 28 deep and we end with eight of us this year."

JH: That class certainly has accomplished quite a bit hasn't it?

TS: "We said when we all arrived here that we wanted to be the group that got OU turned around. We have contributed a great deal to getting OU turned around where they need to be. We are known all over town and that feels great when people acknowledge what we have accomplished. Every time I do an interview and I am told that we are the class the will be remembered it is a great feeling. It feels great to play a role along side a great player like Josh Heupel, and of course Coach (Bob) Stoops has been a big part of that. I think a lot of the credit should go to Coach Stoops and the coaching staff. Hopefully, the people that have watched us go through this are going to be proud of us to."

JH: You guys were the last bunch of players to play under John Blake?

TS: That is right. I guess we are the end of the trash, or at least what was left over. Coach Stoops came in and cleaned house. He got rid of a lot of bad apples."

JH: Was that a big key to it?

TS: "I think so, because you can't have guys that are cancer's to your football team, or guys that don't believe in what you believe in. I agree with that old cliché that ‘you are only as strong as your weakest link.' We were pretty week at that time. We had a bunch of guys who did not want to put forth the effort to make the sacrifice like most of us did."

JH: Looking back at it, you do take pride in the fact that you weren't one of Coach Stoop's recruiting classes, but you still were able to survive and contribute to the renewed success at OU?

TS: "I have often asked Coach (Jonathan) Hayes jokingly several times throughout my career if he would have recruited me if I was a high school player while he was coaching here. He always says ‘shoot no' with a big smile on his face. It is kind of a running joke, but I take a lot of pride that I was able to prove myself to another head coach. The new coaches didn't know me from kingdom come and they didn't know any of us. We didn't know him (Stoops) either or what kind of standards he was looking for at the time. To know what I know now and how well I know them makes me feel awfully proud of me and my teammates. That situation wasn't easy. There were times during that first year when it seemed like all my five years were rolled into one. A day seemed like a week sometimes. However, we were willing to do what it takes to get where we wanted to be."

JH: You have been one of the top tight ends in college football since your sophomore year, yet you were worried about proving yourself to a new coaching staff?

TS: "I wasn't worried that I couldn't convince them, it was just nerve racking I guess. I was just learning the ropes when all that change happened. I didn't have a real feel for how college football worked. I didn't have a real understanding how I was supposed to play college football. I didn't know how we were supposed to work as a team on the field or in the weight room. It was a challenge to have to learn that the Stoops way. We were all eager and we were excited about it at the same time."

JH: Texas Tech brings a quick scoring, high-powered offense to Norman on Saturday, what will your goal be on offense?

TS: "Our goal will be the same that it is every week and that is to score. We want to score fast and score often. That has been our philosophy all year. We always try to make it that way. I think we are finally starting to step into our expectations."

JH: So, the theory that you need to control the football to keep Tech's offense off the field is bogus?

TS: "Hey, if we are scoring points it doesn't matter how and that is the bottom line. You talk about turnovers, which are important and then time of possession, which I think is an overrated stat and that tells you that people are confused about the game. I think sometimes people have a misconception of what is important in the game. I was talking to Kenny Mossman (OU Sports Information Director) the other day and he said that we are 17-1 when we lose the time of possession battle. That was just at his last count, but that proves that statistic doesn't really mean much. All that matters is how many more points that we have over what they have when the game is over. That is all people are going to remember."

JH: "I have always had the feeling that this is a very close team and a very close senior class?

TS: "We have been through a lot together. We suffered through a losing season and about 95 percent of our upperclassman went through losing seasons. Older players wouldn't take us under their wing when we came in and show us anything about college football. It was like they were scared of us or intimidated by us, like they were going to lose their jobs. Or maybe they just didn't care period. We just decided that we were going to change the attitude around here. It all happened on our recruiting trip, when 90 percent of us were on the same trip here. It was just an incredible family atmosphere between the coaches at the time and our class. By the end of the weekend, we all had each other's phone numbers and were calling each other almost every day. I went on a recruiting trip to Notre Dame following that and it wasn't anything like my trip to OU. There wasn't anything special about it."

JH: Talk about some of the guys in your senior class and what they mean to this program?

TS: "I won't name them all, but let's start with Nate Hybl. I don't think you will find anybody who has battled through more adversity than Nate and come through it like he has. He is not done yet. Let's see how we finish up this year. Nate still has a lot of great football in front of him and where his final imprint on Sooner history will be. I don't see how anybody can't have but a great deal of respect for Nate. He is a great friend and that is what I am most proud of, that I can have a great friend like Nate who is also a teammate.

"Quentin Griffin is humble, God fearing, shifty, he is a mess really. He jumps out of his closet at home and scares guys. He doesn't say much in the locker room, but he is unpredictable. You think he is very conservative, but he comes back after his two week break in the summer and he has tattoos on his neck. That certainly shocked us all, but that is ‘Q' in a nutshell.

"Curtis Fagan keeps to himself a lot, but he has his priorities in order. Whatever he decides to do in life he is going to have a good time doing it. He has a great sense of humor and he doesn't need anybody to have a good time. Curt just needs a prop or something. He is a great athlete and just another one of those guys that can do some amazing things on the field."

JH: How about Andre Woolfolk?

TS: "Woolf is an outstanding person and probably the best athlete that I have met in my life. To just witness him do some of the athletic things that he does is incredible. What Quentin does is amazing, but there are a number of things that Andre can do that is just natural God given ability that is just off the charts. Whenever we go out and test in the Winter, watching him do his vertical or go through the drills is amazing. Then watching him on the football field is even more amazing because he does some things that you only get to see a few times in your life."

Sooners Illustrated Top Stories