Venables' passion shines in Big 12 Media Day debut
Oklahoma's first-year coach had plenty of energy for his first trip to Arlington, Texas, for Big 12 Media Days.
✌🏽 Happy Friday, friends. Let’s ride.
📖 Word count: 889 (About five minutes)
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⚡️ Electric introduction
Brent Venables and Oklahoma football’s honeymoon remains strong and with no end in sight.
Venables, the first-year Sooners coach, seemed as eager about the job on Thursday, sitting before reporters at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, as he was last December when he was introduced as OU’s next head football coach.
His energy and passion was on full display in his Big 12 Media Days debut. Here were the highlights from Venables’ 20-minute news conference:
Setting his standard early is unquestionably a major priority for Venables. “You only get one opportunity,” he said, “one chance to be a first-time head coach and to do things right the first time.”
Just how many newcomers are there on OU’s 2022 football roster? “Forty percent of our roster will have never put on a Sooner jersey in a game before until this fall,” Venables said. “… But with those, we have 243 starts out of those 15 transfers, 444 games played, because I know a lot will be and has been made of how much we lost on both sides of the ball from a production standpoint.”
Along with Venables’ energy is palpable confidence. “I feel very prepared for this moment,” he said. “I've been very fortunate that I've been associated and been a part of programs where to me there's three Hall of Fame coaches that have influenced me in Bill Snyder at Kansas State, Bob Stoops at Oklahoma, and I know without question that he will be a Hall of Fame coach in Dabo Swinney at Clemson.”
What is Venables’ confidence like in transfer quarterback Dillon Gabriel? “Dillon Gabriel is a winner,” he said. “You can't say it any better than that. … He's our quarterback. Certainly anything can happen as we move forward through fall camp. It's always about daily competition. But I feel great I can lay my head down at night knowing not just what he has done on the football field but the quality of the person he is. He's about all the right stuff.”
Coaches change jobs often, but not Venables. Venables spent six seasons at Kansas State, 13 seasons at Oklahoma and 10 seasons at Clemson. “I learned a long time ago from Bill Snyder, the grass isn't greener and I always believed that,” Venables said when asked why he pursued Oklahoma’s vacant head coaching job after turning down interest from other schools for years.
More on Venables’ decision to return to OU: “I've been a very connected person my whole life, and it's always about the people. The people always make the place, but Oklahoma is a special place, and so when everything got right and I knew that I was going to be supported the way that I feel like I needed to to be a successful head coach, it was a no-brainer.”
Of course, nothing topped this:
🗒 More notes
Oklahoma junior Marvin Mims wasn’t happy with his role after the 2021 season, despite his two productive years in Norman. The receiver felt like he needed a change and might be wearing a different uniform this fall if Jeff Lebby wasn’t hired as OU’s offensive coordinator. (Read more at 247Sports.com)
The Sooners have a true leader at quarterback after a tumultuous 2021 season for OU’s QBs. Dillon Gabriel, the transfer from Central Florida, has spent a lot of time building connections with his new teammates. He even planned an out-of-town retreat for his fellow quarterbacks and receivers. (Read more at normantranscript.com)
The future of Bedlam football is in jeopardy with the Sooners moving to the Southeastern Conference. When asked on Wednesday, Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy didn’t seem to think there’s any chance the rivalry will continue after OU gets to the SEC. Brent Venables didn’t want to discuss OU’s move but paid respect to the longstanding in-state rivalry and Gundy. (Read more at tulsaworld.com)
Even with new leadership, a “Horns down” hand gesture will still be a penalty, the Big 12’s director of officiating Greg Burks confirmed on Thursday. It also appears Oklahoma fans have been active in Burks’ email inbox. (Read more at espn.com)
🔒 Smothering statement
Oklahoma football recruiting isn’t slowing down.
The Sooners landed a commitment from four-star running back Daylan Smothers on Thursday, choosing OU over the likes of Alabama, North Carolina State and Florida State.
From SoonerScoop.com’s Josh McCuistion:
The explosive back has great lateral quickness and shows it by burst from one cut to another and looking so smooth and easy with his acceleration. That agility and lateral movement is aided by his vision where he repeatedly shows an ability to find secondary running lanes — something that seems a natural fit for Jeff Lebby's scheme.
Smothers, who plays for West Charlotte High School in North Carolina, ranks as the No. 218 overall prospect and No. 9 running back in the 2023 class.
Following Smothers' commitment, OU's current recruiting class ranks No. 11, according to the 247Sports Composite.