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OU football Insider: Jonathan Nelson looks to build on breakout year

By Jake Trotter Modified: March 16, 2010 at 12:07 am •  Published: March 15, 2010

stopped, but then the next week, he put me at safety. Midway through the season, I sort made of the transition of feeling like a cornerback playing safety to a safety playing safety. It didn’t feel awkward anymore.”

→With you guys losing both corners, there’s been some talk you may be moving back to corner. Which would you rather play, corner or safety?

"I like how you get to roam at safety. You can make a lot of plays, have your nose on the ball. But if you can show the versatility to play both, that is a pretty marketable asset. Really at the end of the day, whatever the coaches want I’ll play. If they want to see me at safety, I’ll play there. If it’s corner, I’ll play there, too.”

→Is it ideal for your defense to have two of the young guys step up at corner, so you can remain at safety?

"That would be great. Right now, we have guys capable of playing cornerback. Without the game experience, your first thought is that these guys aren’t ready. But they are. Jamell Fleming, Lamar Harris, Gabe Lynn, Demontre Hurst, Marcus Trice, all those guys can play corner.”

→You lose both starting corners from last year’s defense, and Gerald McCoy up front. Is this defense capable of being as good as last year’s?

"I feel like we’re capable. Whether or not we step up and play tough enough is yet to be answered. But we are definitely capable. We lost two really good safeties two years ago in Nic Harris and Lendy Holmes, and everyone questioned our secondary. But we wound up having a good season in the secondary.”

→What is the single biggest thing this defense needs to resolve to get to that level?

"We need to define leadership. A lot of guys are going through plays. But losing Gerald and Ryan Reynolds, we’re looking around for the team captain. We need to define leadership, and realize each practice we need to get better. That will take care of the leadership.”

→What are your impressions of new secondary coach Willie Martinez?

"So far, I feel like he’s an extension of Coach Venables. He’s really animated, gets worked up, gets right in your face. I don’t think any one of us would want it any other way. There’s not a question Coach Martinez can’t answer. He’s really open to his players, wants us to call him if we have a question or need something. Whenever you have a coach like that, that’s begging you to succeed, you just want to do good and want to work hard.”

Position: Safety/cornerback

Year: Senior

Ht: 5-11

Wt: 185

Hometown: Arlington, Texas

Jonathan Nelson

High school: Summitt

→Named All-Big 12 honorable mention by the coaches last season, despite only starting four games.

→Picked off a pass in each of OU’s final three games of the regular season.

→Made All-Big 12 Academic second team.

→Clocked in with a team-best 4.39 seconds in the 40-yard dash during winter conditioning.


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