NORMAN — It's hard to replace the vocalness Travis Lewis displayed during his football career at Oklahoma. But defensive back Demontre Hurst is attempting to change that.
For four years, Lewis started and provided a vocal spark the Sooners needed, and one the media often times needed.
“Travis was a big mouth,” Hurst said. “He was pretty much the heart of the defense last year. He got everybody going just by his presence and his voice. So for us, no one is that powerful yet.
“Hopefully somebody gets to that level, but for right now, we're going to use all the guys we can to get everybody going.”
Hurst, a senior, certainly had the numbers last season to automatically become a team leader.
But can he or anyone else on the team fill Lewis' vocal role?
“No, I wouldn't say in the way that Travis filled it,” Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. “Nobody can. Travis was a unique character, and we love him. And, listen, Travis worked hard. It's just that guys are different. They all kind of do it.”
Hurst agreed with Stoops, naming teammates Corey Nelson, Tom Wort, RJ Washington, David King, Tony Jefferson and Javon Harris.
“It's still a learning thing for me, just trying to be more vocal and more heard throughout the defense,” Hurst said. “It's a slow process. I think I'm doing pretty good throughout the whole two-a-days, so hopefully the other guys pick up after me and we can all be leaders out there.”
And after last year's disappointment at times in the defensive backfield, the Sooners' secondary is angry, as defensive coordinator Mike Stoops alluded to during Media Day.
Hurst, though, knows correcting the mistakes begins with his newfound vocal role.
“It has a lot to do with everything,” he said. “Nine times out of 10, it has to do with communication. When things get tough, you kinda lose focus of that. Communication was the biggest thing for us last year.”
DEMONTRE HURST'S CAMPAIGN SLOGAN
“A Leader, For a Change”
Demontre Hurst's desire to become the vocal leader after Travis Lewis' departure is a big change for the Sooners. On the defensive end, the players are trying to work more as a unit and fix last season's mistakes that led to a 10-3 season.
DEMONTRE HURST'S CAMPAIGN ENDORSEMENTS
* OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops to the Tulsa World in April: “Demontre is a very experienced player who plays with great technique. I think that's what you get from Demontre every time he steps on the field. That's got to be a consistent element to our team for us to be effective. He's the leader back there.”
* OU safety Tony Jefferson: “Those two guys (Aaron Colvin and Hurst) are very good; they understand football. They have good savvy, football skills, and that helps.”
* ESPN.com: “Jamell Fleming took his talents to the NFL, but Hurst will be the team's top cornerback, with loads of experience to pass down to the team's younger players.”