NEW ORLEANS — Bryant Colvin thinks back to his days as a Little League parent and acknowledges being too hard on his son Aaron.
“I was probably a little bit too serious,” he said. “Just living and learning, I finally realized that the best way to play well is to have fun.”
After that revelation, Bryant began a tradition that he'll continue this week, when Oklahoma meets No. 3 Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, the final game of his son's college football career.
“The night before every game, I call him, encourage him and give him some meditation, thoughts and scriptures,” Bryant Colvin said. “I try to tell him, ‘Just remember, it's a game. Make sure you're having fun. It's no good if you're not having fun.'”
Aaron Colvin is having a lot more fun now than he was at this time a year ago. He went through Cotton Bowl preparations weighing the pros and cons of entering the 2013 NFL Draft.
“Last year, I did have some things on my mind,” Colvin said. “I know what it is now. I know where I'm headed. I've really tried to enjoy myself in this last year.
“At the end of the day, I'm just going to have fun and play football. … Sometimes I can over think and worry too much about things.”
Colvin's senior season hasn't gone exactly according to plan, though. He was named a first-team All-Big 12 cornerback for the second straight year, but also missed lots of time while battling a head injury, a nagging shoulder problem and turf toe.
He's only intercepted one pass compared to four last year, but in several games, he's been successful in locking down one side of the field, and opposing quarterbacks have more often thrown the other way.
Colvin didn't start Oklahoma's Nov. 23 win at Kansas State because of the painful shoulder injury, but after Kansas State star Tyler Lockett caught six passes for 206 yards and three touchdowns in the first half, coaches turned to Colvin to stop the bleeding.
Lockett caught six passes after halftime, but didn't score again.
The time off between Bedlam and Thursday's Sugar Bowl has helped Colvin heal up, but he admitted he's not 100 percent, and that the shoulder still hurts on contact.
Regardless, he plans to play through any pain against Alabama, and it's a good thing for the Sooners. Colvin will need to play a critical role if the Sooners have any hope of slowing down the Crimson Tide offense and its strong air attack, led by Heisman finalist quarterback AJ McCarron and standout receivers Amari Cooper and Kevin Norwood.
And despite the various struggles Colvin has experienced this season, he doesn't regret coming back to Oklahoma. Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said he believes Colvin's NFL Draft stock has risen, even if his statistics are down.
“His size, his quickness, his strength is all improved,” Stoops said. “That shows on the field. The way he plays has changed, and that's a positive. Every scout that's come through has noticed that. I think that'll show when he gets himself ready to take that next step.”
For now, though, Colvin can focus all his energy on Alabama and the Sugar Bowl, and if he starts fretting this week about his future, he can look forward to a phone call Wednesday that should calm him back down.
“My dad and my mom, they just preached to me not to worry about it,” Colvin said. “Everything is going to take care of itself. … I'm with this football team trying to win a bowl game.”