Tight end Austin Haywood was one of the top recruits in Oklahoma's 2010 football class but didn't play as much as several other freshmen last season. Haywood discovered the work ethic needed to play Division I football.
“(I) changed in just being able to show up on time,” Haywood said. “Not being late to meetings and class and tutors. Just being more responsible. I had to learn from my mistakes.
“I think it will help me become a smarter player. Just being out there and knowing what I'm doing helps.”
PLAYERS' VERSATILITY OPENS OPTIONS
OU coaches can put running backs Roy Finch and Brennan Clay in the slot, move tight end James Hanna to receiver or use fullback Trey Millard as an H back.
"People that can play different positions allow you to become multiple," said running backs coach Cale Gundy. "We're always trying to find ways to get our best players on the field. We've got some guys we can do that with."
RETURNING PAYS DIVIDENDS
Two reasons the Sooners are ranked No. 1 nationally is Travis Lewis, the preseason Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, and All-America wide receiver Ryan Broyles returned for their senior year.
"When these guys come back, I want them educated on the whole process," said coach Bob Stoops. "I want them to maximize their small window of opportunity to make money in the NFL, to get where they're valued, to not play for a discount. That's all it is.
"It does send a message to my team to be able to say the year before Sam Bradford comes back, Gerald McCoy comes back, Jermaine Gresham comes back, Trent Williams comes back and all four of them are drafted in the first round, Sam the first pick."
EVERY BALLOT COUNTS
Stoops will be one of 59 coaches that votes in the weekly ESPN poll. Turning in a ballot every week sometimes can be demanding.
"When we get back (from a road night game), I'll sit up a good part of the night checking all the replays that I can on how the game went, what were the scores," Stoops said. "It can be taxing, there's no question. When you're trying to see scores and highlights ... so you have some basis to it, it isn't the easiest thing to do."
OU is ranked No. 1 in Playboy's 2011 NCAA Pigskin Preview, the September issue. Ryan Broyles made Playboy's preseason All-America team. ... The football team held a special autograph session for some Special Olympians following Monday's morning practice. ... The Sooners also practiced Monday night, their next to last two-a-day. Another double session is scheduled Wednesday. Classes start on Monday.