NORMAN — Geneo Grissom has bounced around quite a bit during his time at Oklahoma.
He’s gone from defensive end to tight end and back to defensive end.
It seemed like he’d finally found a permanent home last year when he was a sometimes-starter at defensive end.
But Sooners defensive coordinator Mike Stoops had other ideas, deciding before the Sugar Bowl to move Grissom once again — this time to linebacker.
The senior from Hutchinson, Kan., is OK with being the nomad of the Sooners.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Grissom said. “It’s all been worth it. If anything, it’s helped me become a better football player. I got a little better understanding of the offensive side of the ball, and a great understanding of the defensive side of the ball.”
The Sooners expect to use Grissom in coverage but still plan on using him to rush.
“His versatility is off the chain,” OU linebacker coach Tim Kish said. “At his size and his athletic ability and the way he moves around, he gives us a dimension that we didn’t have there last year. We utilized Eric (Striker) in a different way. But we protected Eric in our own way last year, but we won’t have to do the same thing with Geneo. He can stand up and hold up against those tight ends where we’re really utilizing him the most.
“He’s just a great addition to the group.”
It keeps coming back to fun when Grissom talks about his position switch.
“It’s every D-end’s dream to take his hand up and run off the line and maybe drop into coverage a little bit,” Grissom said. “It’s been a lot of fun learning this new position.”
Since arriving in Norman, Grissom’s athleticism has earned more than once left his teammates in awe.
Grissom said recently that he could still do a roundoff back handspring, which consists of two flips. Grissom said he can do a third.
“Geneo is just a freak of nature,” cornerback Zack Sanchez said. “He’s like a one-in-a-million person. Having Geneo and his size and his speed and what he can do coming off the edge is great for us.”
Grissom’s size, at 6-foot-4, 252 pounds, has given him an advantage at linebacker.
“When we’re going against tight ends, he’s used to going against guys that weigh 300 pounds,” linebacker Dominique Alexander said. “Now he’s going against guys that are 240 or 250. So he just throws them around and gets right in his gap. We just play ball. Even in the pass drop, he’s doing a great job.”
Coverage, Alexander said, won’t be the toughest part of the conversion. Grissom will have to learn not to be overly aggressive.
“He’s still playing in a gap, but he’s used to leaking into another gap and then throwing off,” Alexander said. “Now he’s got to stay in his own gap. He still gets caught looking in sometimes. But that’a a habit he can break. He’s going to do a great job there.”