Ronnell Lewis Gathers Praise in Preseason

OU defensive coordinator Brent Venables wasted no time during OU Media Day making a bold statement about linebacker Ronnell Lewis, the "Hammer," who figures to have a much increased role within the Sooner defense in 2010.

"He's the most violent hitter I've been around," Venables said. "I haven't been all over the place, okay, but I've been here and we've had some good players, and he is as violent as they come."

That's not just bold; it's almost unbelievable considering some of the hard-hitting defensive studs that have played in Norman since Venables has been here.

Rocky Calmus. Teddy Lehman. Curtis Lofton. Tommie Harris. Brandon Everage, and the list goes on, including perhaps the best of those during the Stoops era that some are already thinking about comparing Lewis to in terms of his abilities and what he might do within the defense's schemes: former safety Roy Williams.

"Well we blitzed Roy, and we will definitely blitz and bring Ronnell after the quarterback without question," Venables said. "I think, not to be evasive at all [in comparing the two], we've got to give him what he can handle and not overwhelm him."

From the beginning of this season, that's what it will be about.

"So you ask anybody to play multiple positions and different roles, and then all of the sudden the advantages they have from a power and strength and speed and playmaking ability, those attributes can be dumbed down to a certain degree," Venables said. "So that's what [we need to think about]. Again, we have to be careful."

It's a legitimate point, considering he'll only be a sophomore and has yet to start a game at linebacker for OU.

"We recognize some of his special abilities," Venables said. "But yet he doesn't have the experience and his background--again and they did a fabulous job in high school because they transitioned actually from his junior to senior year from an eight man program to an 11-man program, and he moved from a safety-running back to a linebacker for his senior year, [his high school coaches] did a terrific job with them--but there's still some growing from a foundation stand point that needs to take place and will continue to take place the more he's around [and] the more he plays."

With that said, he's a terrific talent the Sooners will certainly use in all the ways they can.

"Yeah, we're going to look at ways to get him on the field and put him in a playmaking position," Venables said. "I think it's evident when he knows what he's doing, when he's confident in what he's doing, like the kickoffs, see ball, get ball, you know, he's good at that, so he's very violent. I told the guys, the freshman, I said, ‘You guys are in for a treat,' because that's the way us coaches look at it.

"So, [he] loves to play, loves to be coached, really loves to be coached, very hungry, a humble young guy that has a respect for the game in the process. So, we'll find ways to get him on the field and again in a playmaking position. So, we'll work through that during fall camp and experiment with some things."

One thing's for sure: When he hits people, he'll punish them.

"That probably sums it up," said defensive tackle Adrian Taylor. "He's definitely not scared of anything, and he's like controlled aggression. You know what I'm saying. It's impressive to see a guy like that. I mean, you just don't get that anywhere and I mean guys like that are the guys you want to play with when you're on the defensive line. I mean, I'm glad he's on my side. That's what I'm saying like that."

And so's the rest of the defense.

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