NORMAN — Six years ago, the year before he won the Heisman Trophy, three years before he was the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft, Sam Bradford entered two-a-days focused on earning Oklahoma's starting quarterback job.
In a three-way competition similar to the on for the 2013 season, Bradford was the favorite over junior-college transfer Joey Halzle and learning-on-the-job true freshman Keith Nichol.
Bradford, though, wasn't officially named the starter until Aug. 21, the third week of two-a-days.
“It was a lot of fun, great competition,” Bradford said. “I remember every day you had to be on your A game because I knew Joey and Keith were going to bring their A game. Every snap, every practice mattered. It brought out the best in me and those other guys.”
Junior Blake Bell, like Bradford in 2007, is the favorite ahead of sophomore Kendal Thompson and redshirt freshman Trevor Knight entering this year's fall camp.
“Obviously it's going to be different,” Bradford said. “It's going to be the first time in 3½ years Landry (Jones) won't be taking the snaps. It's going to be different for everyone involved, the fans included.”
OU fans have become accustomed to Bradford and Jones, who have combined to start OU's last 81 games.
For the first time in six years, the Sooners will open a season with a quarterback who has never started a game.
While no official announcement has been made about who will start the Aug. 31 opener against Louisiana-Monroe, Bradford said it will be an important day.
“When they named me the starter, it allowed me to step into that leadership role the quarterback is required to fulfill,” Bradford said. “The hardest part going through a three-quarterback competition is that it's hard for one guy to emerge as the true leader.”
The year Bradford redshirted, quarterback Paul Thompson was a marginal passer. Adrian Peterson and Allen Patrick combined for more than 350 carries to carry the offense.
The following season, the Sooners were committed to air it out again like the Jason White and Josh Heupel days. Forced to compete for the starting job, Bradford said two-a-days helped him develop confidence.
“I hope the three guys going through the competition right now will embrace the battle and be competitive with it,” Bradford said. “If all of them compete hard it will make each one of them better.”