Last year Keenan Clayton was a special teams force and two years ago he started two games at strong safety, but this year he will be looked to play a much bigger role as the team's starting ‘SAM' backer.
Clayton seem to be relishing his new role, and you can tell he has impressed the coaches with his ability to lead, and you could not wipe the smile off of his face when he was asked if he was excited for the season opener.
"85,000," Clayton exclaimed when asked about the excitement for the season opener against Chattanooga! "I mean it don't get no better than that. I started a few games a couple of seasons ago. I know what it is like to play out in front of everybody, but now I am at a new position.
"I just can't wait."
It has been hard for many people to get excited about OU facing off against a D1-AA team like UTC, that finished a meager 2-9 in 2007, but Clayton says that the team is indeed fired up to get out there.
"It is a game," Clayton responded. "You got to be pumped up for every game, or just like last year it will be one of the biggest upsets like in the Michigan/Appalachian State game. You can't overlook anybody.
"It is a game. It is the first game. It is the first home game. You know, it is the season opener. No matter who it is – what more can you say – you got to be hyped up. We are playing ball again."
The defense seemed to have a tough last couple of day of practice, and the could be heading in to the Chattanooga game with a chip on their shoulder, but Clayton says that you should expect that every week.
"You got to have an attitude on defense, so yeah we got an edge. We got an attitude. That is part of being on Oklahoma's defense. It is a tradition to have an attitude on defense. If we don't have an attitude then no one will respect us."
Clayton also informed the linebacker have some extra motivation heading in to the game.
"We talk about it amongst ourselves a lot – about how everybody thinks we might be the weakest link of the defense – but now Saturday is a few days away and the season has started all we can do is prove people wrong," Clayton stated.
"I honestly feel like we are ready to step up and get the job done."