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Getting to Know . . . Jalen Saunders
August 14, 2013

Throughout the season, we’ll take an in-depth look at the unique personalities that populate the locker room at the Switzer Center. You’ll learn what motivates these Sooners, what makes them hungry and maybe, just maybe, you’ll hear about a few idiosyncrasies that they didn’t want you to know!

First let’s talk a little football and the receiving corps you’ve played with here at OU.
“We had a really good receiving corps last year and it’s going to translate into this year, too. We have a lot of young guys; a lot of raw talent and they’ve all been trying throughout the spring and summer and into the fall now. It’s real exciting to see what this season is going to bring.”

As a transfer you had to adjust to a new quarterback a year ago and now everyone is facing that same situation. How has that adjustment been going among the receivers?
“[The adjustment] is going well so far. We don’t know who the starter is going to be, but we have good reads and good timing with all of the quarterbacks that we have competing for the starting job.”

Tell us about your ability to step up in big games like you did against Notre Dame and OSU last year.
“I like to step it up every game. It doesn’t matter what game it is, I just want to be out there and play my best. I look at Michael Jordan. That’s my role model to this day. I want to practice hard like him and play hard in a game like him. He’s been my role model ever since I was three years old.”

Your cousin plays basketball at San Diego State. What kind of athletic family do you come from?
“My brother Isaiah is at the University of Idaho now to play football and my dad played there, too.”
Note: Isaiah is a freshman running back, while his and Jalen’s father Walter played wide receiver at Idaho from 1991-93.

What was it like growing up in such an athletic household?
“When we were younger we all had dreams. We were all in the backyard playing basketball and football. We all played the same sports; track, football, basketball. We all expected ourselves to go to college and do big things, but we all worked at it and wanted to be the best at it.”

Is there a special motivation knowing that you’ve got family that knows what you’re going through, playing college sports?
“Yeah. We talk to each other all the time to keep each other motivated and keep us going.”

Beyond football, what do you and your friends and teammates do for fun?
“We play video games and hang out. Mostly we play NCAA 2K and Call of Duty. I’m the NCAA champ on our team.”

What team do you typically play as?
“I’ll play with anybody, but mainly OU.”

Stepping away from the football field and the dorm, take us inside your experience in the classroom.
“I’m in multidisciplinary studies, toward criminal justice.”

Any specific professional goals, other than pursuing football, in that area for you?
“I’ve always wanted to be a probation officer. My dad and my uncles are all in the law enforcement field. My dad is a retired lieutenant now and one of my uncles is a probation officer and my other uncle is a parole officer. It’s something I’m just familiar with.”

What kind of relationship do you share with your father?
“I always looked at my dad like an older brother. He’s always on my side, regardless of the situation. He’s always been on my side to help me get through whatever I need. I just look up to him and I want to be exactly the same way as a father.”

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