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Oklahoma football: Strength coach Jerry Schmidt optimistic about Sooners' leadership and newcomers

by Jason Kersey Published: August 2, 2014

— Oklahoma football fans don’t hear much from Jerry Schmidt.

“Sometimes I just tell things the way they are and people don’t like to hear it,” Schmidt said with a smile.

A request was made for “Schmitty” to appear during the Sooners’ Media Day on Saturday afternoon inside the Switzer Center, and Bob Stoops’ longtime strength coach obliged, explaining in detail why he believes the 2014 Oklahoma football team could be destined for big things. That excitement mostly stems from two factors: team leadership and the Sooners’ impressive group of newcomers.

Schmidt repeatedly praised sophomore quarterback Trevor Knight, junior receiver Sterling Shepard and senior offensive tackle Daryl Williams in particular, but said there is a guy like that in every position group.

“You’ve got to have great players, but you have to have great leaders set the example of what you want,” Schmidt said. “Those leaders have to be your hardest workers. It hasn’t always been that way. It’s been good but it hasn’t always been across the board.”

Schmidt’s eight-week summer workouts have become notorious over his 16 years in Norman under Stoops. Current and former players alike have described the intense, grueling program as something that sets Oklahoma apart from other programs around the country.

Those workouts also represent a noted rite of passage for incoming freshmen.

Schmidt said this year’s freshmen class has impressed him; so much, in fact, that he integrated the freshmen with upperclassmen much sooner than he does in a typical summer.

“Normally I start them out by themselves as a group and then graduate them into working with our upperclassmen,” he said. “About a week-and-a-half, two weeks into it, I put most of them with the upperclassmen because that’s how mature they were and physically they could handle the stuff we were doing. Our upperclassmen really invited them in.”

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by Jason Kersey
OU Sports Reporter
Jason Kersey became The Oklahoman's OU football beat writer in May 2012 after a year covering high school sports and OSU recruiting. Before joining the newspaper in November 2006 as a part-time results clerk, he covered high school football for...
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