NORMAN — Former Oklahoma tight end Trent Smith has some advice for the Sooners players about to learn their NFL Draft destiny: "Check your attitude and how good you think you are at the door, because it’s a different world up there.”
Smith, who caught more passes than any tight end in school history, can speak from experience about how tough it is to make it in the NFL. He was a seventh-round pick in the 2003 draft and got to play in only five games over the next four years.
"Here you might be one of the best players in all of college football,” said Smith, who returned to Owen Field this month for a flag football game between former Oklahoma players. "You get up there and you’re just one of the better guys on one team.
"You’re going against the best of the best every single day in practice and on the field. Even the practice squad guys have the potential to go on and be All-Pros. It’s just ridiculous the amount of talent.”
In Bob Stoops’ first nine years as Oklahoma’s coach, the Sooners have had 36 players drafted — an average of four per year. But college stardom has not necessarily been an indicator of NFL success.
Tailback Adrian Peterson and lineman Jammal Brown were each named to the All-Pro team in their first two seasons, and defensive tackle Tommie Harris was a second-team pick in 2005. But during a stretch that has produced six Big 12 titles, a national championship and five other BCS bowl appearances, many of the team’s best players haven’t blossomed at the next level.
Jason White, the 2003 Heisman Trophy winner, and Josh Heupel, the 2000 Heisman runner-up, never played a snap in the NFL.