NORMAN — Ryan Gilliam expected to get an up-close look at Oklahoma’s football team during Thursday’s Sooners practice.
Gilliam didn’t expect to wind up front-and-center in a group picture after the practice, the Sugar Bowl trophy between his legs and Sooners coach Bob Stoops to his right.
“Usually it’s pretty exclusive,” said Gilliam, a 19-year-old sophomore from McKinney, Texas. “It shows they’re really trying to broaden their horizons not only with the students but the media as well.”
More than 200 students took advantage of the open practice, Oklahoma’s first in several years.
During the open period, which lasted about 45 minutes, the Sooners went through a scrimmage that started off with Dakota Austin picking off starting quarterback Trevor Knight. Taylor McNamara and Derrick Woods also caught touchdown passes during the scrimmage, which serves as a warmup to Saturday’s 2 p.m. spring game.
“It’s awesome,” linebackers coach Tim Kish said. “Anytime you can interact with the students, that’s what it’s all about. We’re dealing with students too, on the field, so it’s great they can have this opportunity to be together.”
The students were treated to free hot dogs and soft drinks and several prize drawings that included jerseys and game-worn cleats. Also, eight students were chosen to be “student coaches” during Saturday’s game. The students — two per quarter — will be on the field during the game, receive game-day coaching gear and will each run a play from the sidelines to the huddle.
After the practice, the students were allowed onto the field, first to take a picture with the team. The photo will be featured on the Sooners’ schedule poster.