Sooners Meet with Fans and Media on Busy Sunday

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma

NORMAN — The Oklahoma football team participated in a busy Sunday, holding their local media day and then interacting with fans at the annual "Meet the Sooners Day."

Head coach Lincoln Riley, defensive coordinator Mike Stoops and several Sooners spent nearly 90 minutes with reporters previewing the 2018 season and then signed autographs at Gaylord Family - Oklahoma Memorial Stadium for two hours.

Watch and read the highlights below.

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Head Coach Lincoln Riley

Opening comment:
“Excited to be here today. Appreciate everybody accommodating an earlier time for this preseason news conference. It's great to be here. It's an exciting time for us. It's always one of the best times of the year where you now finally have your team together. All of our players that will be here are here on campus. We're in the midst of a really successful summer run right now. I've been really happy with the overall attitude of this group this summer. I think they're a very, very hungry group that feels like they've got a lot to prove, and they've really responded well to our strength coach Bennie Wylie. I've been very, very pleased with this summer so far. They've got one more week left of organized workouts and then we will report on Aug. 2 with our first practice being the morning of Aug. 3.

“I'm excited to get back into it. It's always, like I said, the best time of the year because you feel like you're really shaping your team. You don't have any other distractions going on – they're not in school at this point. It's a time when you can really lock in and really see what this team's going to become, see how we're going to jell together, and I'm really very excited about the whole process.

“A couple of quick announcements, and then we'll get to some questions. On the injury front, Jalen Redmond, we found out two or three weeks ago, we found a couple of blood clots with him, which is obviously a serious and scary situation for him and his family. Jalen's doing very well now and we feel like it's something that we're past. He's doing great, but he will miss this season because of those. We fully anticipate that we'll have him back here in the future and this will just be a redshirt year for him. First and foremost, we've got to make sure that that's completely under control with the severity of a complication like that. Jalen's doing great. Our medical team has done a tremendous job with him, and he's going to be able – we feel like – to do quite a bit this year and should be able to play for us after that. More than anything, just thankful that he's doing okay.

“Nick Basquine is doing well, has really responded well this summer. We've been cautious with him in summer... but he's done a majority of our strength and conditioning. We fully expect him to be full go starting Aug. 3. Prentice McKinney had shoulder surgery about mid-summer. A shoulder he was going to try to play through just was not responding in a way that we had all hoped, so he will miss the season. As I think we discussed before, we know Michael Thompson, of course, had a knee surgery before he got here and will miss this season, and then Chanse Sylvie with his Achilles – doing great, really ahead of schedule but don't anticipate having him this season barring some sort of miracle, honestly.

“That is our injury situation up to this point. Everybody else is doing well. Our spring surgeries are doing well. I anticipate having everybody else on the roster in a full capacity on Aug. 3. With that, we'll get to questions.”

On his biggest concerns going into camp:
“I've said a lot to leadership. I think there's some unknowns there. I don't know if ‘concern' would be my word for that. I just think it's an area of focus for us as a team. I think the potential's there, but we've still got a lot of work to do there. And then, I like the depth we have. I feel like there's going to be a lot of great position battles, so I'm excited to see how those go. Again, I think this is a time when your team has to jell. It's the first time that you have all these new players together. We've got several new players that will have opportunities to make different kinds of impact this season, and jelling with our current guys will be a big part of our success.”

On keeping Kyler Murray hungry and focused after being selected in the MLB Draft:
“If he wasn't hungry, he'd be off playing baseball right now. He wanted to come play football. He didn't have to, obviously, but he wanted to, so I think the hunger and all that's there. As far as the baseball situation, it has no effect on us right now. He's a football player for the University of Oklahoma right now. That's his focus and that's our focus.”

On if there is an opponent defense that's given OU's offense trouble in the past:
“The good ones. Not schematically, no. There's always answers from both sides, whether you're looking at it from an offensive or defensive perspective. There's always answers. There's always things you can do schematically that are good, but it comes down to how good are your players and then how good are they at what they do, how well-versed are they? Great players anywhere on defense are tough to go against at any position, but I think defenses that are really sound at what they do combined with really, really good football players are always the toughest. I know that sounds obvious, but there's not a scheme that you sit there and say, ‘I hope we don't face this.' It's more of just people that are really good at what they do, it's a lot tougher to move the ball against them.”

On if it doesn't matter who plays quarterback with so much of the offense already determined:
“Oh, it matters. It definitely matters. I think it was more that we had confidence last year: even though they weren't proven commodities, we had confidence in what we had in our room and that we were going to be able to get two to three really good players out of this group that would get the production we'd need, just not necessarily where it'd come from. And, I have that same confidence in our quarterback. I don't know who it's going to be, but I do feel like those two guys combined with the rest of that room are good enough that whoever emerges...will be a really good player for us. And who knows? We know how this game goes. We've been fortunate the last few years, but a lot of times you need more than one (quarterback) to play throughout the season to play well, and I think we have that ready.”

On what qualities he's looking for leaders to develop:
“You've got to lead in your own way. A lot of the leading goes on behind the scenes... I think sometimes people see things on Saturday and they may misinterpret that for leading, and that's just emotion or having fun. Real leading goes on behind the scenes when there's not cameras there, and I think we've got guys that are fully capable of that. Now are there some lessons that they could take from things that Baker (Mayfield) did in a leadership regard, or Orlando Brown or Ogbo (Ogbonnia Okoronkwo) all season or the really good leaders that we've had here? Of course. But, they can't try to be those guys. They've got to try to be themselves. They've got to do it within themselves and who they are as a person.

“For a quarterback, part of it has to be vocal. No question about it. But, not all the time. The example you set, the way you carry yourself, the things that you do are all very important, and it goes noticed. Everybody in our program – every coach, every player, every employee – they always see everything the quarterback does. It really shows who you are and sets a tone for the group.”

On if the quarterback has to be the leader, or if there's another offensive player who could be:
“I think he (the quarterback) has to be a leader. Does he have to be the No. 1 alpha dog on the team? I don't think necessarily. I think there's a lot of examples over the years of championship teams, teams that have been very, very good in all levels of football where the quarterback hasn't been the alpha. Take a look at the Eagles this year, the Super Bowl champions. From afar, it didn't look like their quarterback was... the No. 1 alpha dog on that team.

“I think he's (the quarterback) got to be, but I feel like we have several other outstanding leaders. Rodney Anderson's a guy that I think's really come a long way in that regard. He's always done the right things, but he's definitely starting to push himself to be more vocal, to be more in that role. And then, I think our offensive line is going to be a big part of that. We've got so many guys there: Ben Powers, Dru Samia, Bobby Evans, Jonathan Alvarez. We've got some guys that have played a lot of ball. They've been to a lot of tough battles. They're good players, and we need them to branch out and become good leaders.”

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Defensive Coordinator Mike Stoops

Opening statement:
“Excited like everybody to get started and really feel good about the group we have. Feel like we have had a pretty good summer from all indications and kind of like the direction we headed at the beginning of spring, feel like we are in a better position, hopefully, heading into this fall.”

On whether it's possible for a team to have a top-five defense playing in the Big 12 Conference:
"Well I think statistics in certain situations are drastically different just because of who you play out of conference, in conference, the style, the per-snap. There are a lot of variables that go into playing good defense. I would think top-20, top-15 would be more realistic in our league just because of the efficiency that these guys work at. Obviously the last few years have been kind of off the charts with the type of (offensive) personnel we have had to deal with. And then certainly you have to balance the defensive personnel that you have going against. So those are the areas we need to make up the most ground and just have the personnel you need to across the board to match up in this league. We have made some adjustments in that area; probably going to play more nickel than we have in the past to try to counter some of the spread offenses you see.”

On Caleb Kelly moving to the Will linebacker spot:
“Caleb has had to study a lot. He missed a lot of the spring, or all of the spring, with the shoulder injury, so that is going to be an interesting competition between him and Curtis Bolton. It is going to be interesting. Caleb comes up, watches a lot of tape and tries to understand concepts. I think his long-term success is inside and that's what we try to put all of our players in, for long term and short term success. I think that's the best position for him and I think it will help us. We feel like we have two really good Will linebackers and we believe competition is another area that...you have to have to excel anywhere at this level. If you don't, complacency sets in and I think you saw a little of that in our defense over the last couple of years. That's something we desperately tried to change; to develop and recruit certainly better players that create competition across the board.”

On where Jordan Parker will play:
“We are going to look and see where we feel like he fits us and can compete. From my understanding, he's worked a lot this summer at safety. The development of Tre Brown, Tre Norwood, Parnell Motley, those will be three guys to look at and certainly Jordan Parker ought to be depending on the freshman, too – Miguel Edwards did some good things this spring. I think we have to look and see. The safety position is in area that we feel like we need to improve across the board and those guys will make plays down the field. If he gets us some range and some playmaking ability, we are definitely going to give him a chance there, too.

On what Kenneth Murray is doing to make the next step:
“I think Kenneth – just his comfortability of where he's at – is getting comfortable. He's a guy who has played on the edge, hasn't played a ton on the inside. I think for the first time he's worked two whole years – this will be his second year in a row of playing the same position. I think conceptually he has a better understanding. For as athletic as he is, I think the tempo of the game will slow down and I think you will see a better player all across the board.”

On expectations for Kenneth Mann as a leader on the defensive line:
“I think Kenneth, Neville (Gallimore) and Amani (Bledsoe) have really taken that group. This is the best continuity we have had with that group, and that goes to stability and coaching. (Defensive ends coach) Calvin (Thibodeaux) has been here three years, (defensive tackles coach) Ruffin (McNeill) is going on his second. Prior to that, we had three different defensive line coaches, I think almost in succession. I don't know if one guy was ever there two years in a row and that's going to create some instability in your team. And now we have that stability, that continuity that you need. I think these guys have taken the younger guys under their wings and have really helped improve. But I just think our overall technique; our block protection is so much better, our ability to use our hands, get off blocks, play two gaps is better than it's been. We just hope that we can keep improving and head in that direction.”

Junior Running Back Rodney Anderson

On the team's leadership and who has stepped up:
“Not having Baker (Mayfield) is going to be different but I think that we're adjusting very nicely. We've had a bunch of leaders step up. I've gotten a little more vocal, but everybody's got their own style. Whatever helps the team is what we're all doing ... I feel like I've always been in some type of leadership position, whether that's leading by example, or being vocal, whatever the team needs me to do is what I'm going to do.”

On the team's depth at the running back position:
“We've got tremendous depth. I feel like we could put anyone out there and have the same production level. I'm very confident in the running back room ... I think that we're going to have the same production (as before) if not better. We've been working really hard and I think that's just us being proud of the work we've put in. I think we're going to be just as good if not better. We've got a bunch of weapons we're excited to showcase and it's going to be a good year.”

On OU's equipment staff:
“I appreciate everything that we get. Our equipment staff is second to none. They're really great guys. They make sure we get the best. I have so many clothes, I never run out of them unless I get huge or lose 60 pounds. After camp, when the roster's set, we get a big duffle bag full of stuff.”

On freshman running backs Kennedy Brooks (redshirt) and T.J. Pledger (true):
“You come in super hungry and you stay hungry and just try to improve and do whatever you can to get on the field. Those two have been doing a great job in summer workouts and in the film room, academically they've been on top of their stuff and I think they're

Junior Wide Receiver Marquise Brown

On what a better offense would look like this year:
“That is for you all to see. We are going to be better than we were last year. If we run a triple option we will run it to the best. Whatever we do we are going to be the best at it.”

On the source of his confidence:
“It is on the plays we make. This whole offseason season what we have been doing, the plays we have been making, the progress we have made individually make us that confident. Each player is better than they were last year.”

On OU's change to Jordan Brand:
“I like Nike, I like Jordan. Whatever they put me in that is what we are going to wear. I don't really have a preference but I love that we went with Jordan. I look forward to playing in the new uniforms.”

Sophomore Tight End Grant Calcaterra:

On transitioning to a new quarterback:
“I think I've done the same thing with Austin (Kendall) and Kyler (Murray) and Tanner (Schafer), all those quarterbacks through last spring and also last summer, so I'll just grow chemistry with all those guys in fall camp ... I can't really speak on a difference, but it's all about our system. Our offense is so wired and it's all about plugging a guy into that quarterback position and whoever is doing the best is going to play. So Baker was that guy and obviously he made some incredible plays, but I think Austin or Kyler or whoever fills that position this year will run that offense just like Baker did and establish their own mark here.”

On his expectations for himself:
For me, it's all about going out there every day and just improving myself because that's all you can do. I think I have a great opportunity to have a great year this year, but it's just important for me to improve every day and have a great fall camp.”

On the team's leadership:
“Baker was an unbelievable leader, and I don't know if I'll ever be around another leader like that. But that's been something that we've been working on as a team is establishing leadership. Baker, he was just one guy and he could control the whole team... We don't have a guy like that this year but we have a lot of young leaders, we have a lot of guys who have played a lot of snaps...our whole offensive line. All those guys are voices that are respected. I try to do my best to try to lead...I think it's important just as a team as a whole, everybody does their job to where you don't have to have a guy that is always having to tell people what to do. But, the leadership is kind of spreading throughout the team.”

Junior Offensive Lineman Bobby Evans

On the younger offensive line members:
“Guys like Tyrese Robinson, Adrian Ealy and Marquis Hayes have stepped up this year because we expect for them to try and get some playing time this year.”

On what it means to be an offensive lineman at Oklahoma:
“We obviously take it very seriously here, knowing who our coach is, but once you try to play O-line here, you've got to try and step up quick as soon as you get here... Just knowing your assignments and knowing techniques and where to put hands and head placement – a lot of that stuff seems small, but it actually is really important.”

On his own improvement during the offseason:
“I've improved a lot. I've been working on my technique.”

Junior Defensive Lineman Neville Gallimore

On his motto for the season:
“‘Above 90,' which is basically, everybody strives to be 100 percent. Nobody's perfect, but you strive to be. So anything above 90 just shows that, no matter what, as great as you're doing, there's always that much more that you can be doing. So that's just something I always live by...that's kind of something that's motivated me but also kept me grounded, letting me know that no matter how well I'm doing, there's always that much more I could be doing.”

Sophomore Quarterback Austin Kendall

On the similarities between Kyler Murray and him:
“We both throw the ball really well. He obviously is really athletic. I think I can move pretty well, too. Obviously we both have things that we can do differently.”

On if people overlook his athleticism:
“It doesn't really matter. If I need to go make a play I will go make a play.”

On if he's motivated by some people assuming Murray will be the starting quarterback:
“Yeah it does motivate me. I have been working hard all summer just like everyone else. When camp starts we will go out and do the same thing. It's whoever goes out and executes.”

On his reaction to redshirting last year:
“Coach Riley and I sat down and he was like, basically you are going to do what Kyler (Murray) did last year and sit behind Baker (Mayfield) and maybe play a few games. That is what you did last year so it may happen again. I said that was OK. Obviously Baker was the starter and I learned a lot just from working (against) the first-team defense a lot, too. So I think that helped a lot.”

On OU's talent at receiver:
“It's really good. For CeeDee (Lamb), Marquise (Brown), Grant (Calcaterra), we have so many others guys we could name. It just makes it so much easier for Kyler and I and the rest of the quarterbacks. It's really awesome.”

On what he learned most from watching Baker:
“Just like what you guys were saying. To play with a chip on your shoulder. Motivate the team to go out there and just compete every day.”

Sophomore Wide Receiver CeeDee Lamb

On the transition for him to last season to this year:
“It's going to be different for me because now I have a year of experience under my belt, so I know what to expect coming in this year. I feel like it's my responsibility to help the young guys.”

On seeing anything different from this year's QBs compared to Baker Mayfield:
“Not really, they're still my quarterbacks and I'm still their receiver. I don't feel like I have to do anything different no matter who the quarterback is. They're here for a reason. They both throw a pretty good ball and I'm here to catch it.”

On having Kyler Murray with the team this summer:
“It's been great. We can build chemistry. To have the opportunity for us to be out on the field together, along with Austin (Kendall), has been clutch.”

Junior Defensive End Kenneth Mann

On taking on a new role this season:
“I think I'll have a better season. There's going to be more plays out there for me. I've got to make the most of them and continue to work.”

On his expectations for the defense:
“I think we can be a great group. We have some young guys and they've all got some experience now and they're going to make some key plays and impact right now, so I feel like we can definitely be a great defense this year.”

On how the Rose Bowl impacted the defense:
“All the guys that went – it stuck with us all. We talk about it all the time. It was probably the hardest part of last season – it was definitely the hardest part of last season. We wanted to go all the way. That's going to stick with us and we know where we want to get next season.”

Junior Cornerback Parnell Motley

On how deep the cornerback position is going into the season:
“We're pretty deep. This year we have a lot of talented guys that are willing to bring a lot to the table. The cornerback position is pretty steep, we have to keep it like that, because when we get into the season and if anybody goes down, we have to have two or three guys that can step up. We're pretty good at that position right now. I just want us all to stay healthy and stick our feet in the ground and get to work.”

On his strengths:
“What I feel like I bring to this team on the field is competitiveness and being a vocal guy and good teammate. I feel like I brought all of that to the table last year, but more importantly I need to prove my game this year.”

On using last season as motivation:
“I definitely use it as motivation because I'm always watching film to see where I got beat. I have to keep my head in the game and play my ballgame and let nothing bring me down and I'll be OK.”

Sophomore Linebacker Kenneth Murray

On what has changed between last year and this year:
“It is a lot. I learned a lot last year obviously starting every game you get a lot of experience so I feel like that is what has changed so far just realizing all that I have learned so far and taking all that stuff and letting it marinate during the off season then putting it all together this season. I am looking to have a big year and take all that experience and put it to use and get out there.”

On the expectations of the defense this season:
“We expect to dominate. We expect to be hungry every week. That is my expectations and I am taking it personally myself to come out every week and be hungry. Practice hungry, play games hungry, every time we go on the field no matter who we play, we need to go out there and ball and be hungry.”

On Bookie (Radley- Hines) and guys that are playing well:
“Yeah that is my guy. He is a really smart player, he is young right now, but he is a really smart guy and really instinctive. It has been real fun to get out there and play with him this year. It is a lot of guys that are working hard. Justin Broyles is having a pretty good off season. Tre Norwood has been putting it together. There is also a lot of guys. Neville Gallimore is a guy that everyone looks over so this year he has been putting it all together.”

Junior Quarterback Kyler Murray

On talking with Coach Riley about the possibility of him getting taken in the MLB Draft before the summer:
“I think it helped a lot. I think it helped Coach Riley and them ease their mind a little bit. He wasn't blindsided by the fact that, hey, this kid can play Major League baseball and get drafted. Communication on both sides definitely helped out a lot.”

On having so many talented skill players around him:
“It's definitely exciting. I'm ready to go. We've been working hard all summer. Coach Riley calling plays and dialing it up, as we've all seen since he's been here, I think the things we can do you can't put a limit on. I'm ready to go.”

On his passing strengths:
“I feel like I can do anything on the field.”

On his leadership:
“Showing up every day and working hard, doing what I've been doing. Gaining guys trust every day. That doesn't change. All that work's been put in; I've been here for three years now so I'm not too worried about it.”

On what work needs to be done in fall camp:
“This has been my first summer with the guys. Usually Baker's been here, and we get the chemistry going with the starting quarterback. But we've been putting in work. I've gained more chemistry with these guys than I have since I've been here; Marquise (Brown), CeeDee (Lamb), Grant (Calcaterra), all those guys. I don't think we have any limitations on what we can do on offense. We have a lot of guys that can go. Plenty of guys with different skill sets and basically the whole O-line coming back. Time will tell how good we'll be.”

Sophomore Cornerback Tre Norwood

On preparing for Army's triple-option offense:
“It is a little different. You have a team coming in running the ball (all) the time. It is something that we can practice, tighten down, buckle up and just really focus on those keys. Also not just on the field but in the film room as well. So it is just one of those things you have to study for and prepare for.”

On the defensive change and playing more nickel this year:
“Playing more nickel allows our DBs to be on the field. Being in the Big 12 I feel like that is a benefit, having more cover guys out there; being able to cover more of the receivers and the majority of the pass. I am looking forward to seeing what we do in fall camp and excited to see where that takes us.”

Sophomore Running Back Trey Sermon

On what he's concentrated on this offseason:
“Just learning to attack right away. I think that'll help me this year. Getting stronger and faster, working on my acceleration. (Strength) coach (Bennie) Wylie's been helping me out a lot.”

On when things clicked for him last year:
“It clicked kind of early, probably the Ohio State game, but it took me some time to get used to everything.”

On what he expects from the offense this season:
“I expect a lot of change. Everybody's different, we're a new team. We have two different quarterbacks, so there will be a lot of changes, but the goal stays the same.”

On what Coach Wylie has brought to the program:
“He's helped a lot. He's helped me, personally, with my change of directions, which is really making me a better running back.”

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