The 'Sharks' of Oklahoma's 2011 defense have become a popular topic in Norman by players, fans and the media but the question that has gone somewhat unresolved, and even unasked, is do the coaches have any role in encouraging the new moniker? Though the entire defense has now become known as sharks the secondary started the conversation, and with DeVante Harris on campus he got a look at just how Willie Martinez handles his bunch.
And according to the nation's No. 10 cornerback it would seem Martinez has no trouble getting involved with the unit's growing reputation.
"Oh yeah, I got a lot of time with me and coach Martinez, me and my parents, and we talked to him, coach Bob Stoops, coach (Brent) Venables, coach Jay Norvell," Harris said. "He was very, very cool dude and I can tell he knows what he was talking about him and my dad was asking him question I feel coach Martinez can take my game to the next level. Actually he showed me his backpedal, he was funny.
"He is involved in the shark thing too. They have the shark of the week and they do it in the film room, he puts a picture up in the film room."
Much has been made of Harris' lean 5-foot-11, 160-pound frame and what type of timeline he may be working at before he can get on the field at Oklahoma. And while many have foreseen Harris as needing some time in Norman before he'll be ready. However it's not clear that the Sooner staff agrees.
"They are telling me to come in and play nickel and get some work at the field corner, (Martinez) is telling me to come in and handle my business, and handle it when it's time," he said. "Just as far as coming in, I want to just take what he has to offer, coach Martinez, he knows what he is talking about and coach Stoops is going to work with the defensive backs, what they have to coach.
"Obviously, they've been doing this awhile and they've been doing it successfully for a while. You've just got to listen to guys who know the game."
Though time with the coaches is always a part of the business side of any trip for an outgoing prospect like Harris, the chance to spend time around current, and future, Sooners was a huge part of the trip.
"I had a ball, it was so fun. Me and my boy Duron (Neal), Sterling (Shepard), Laith (Harlow), Daniel (Brooks) all them boys. The players act just like me, it was great," he said.
"Kameel Jackson was a guy I knew him from way before that. I met him at camp, and we got to know each other but Demontre Hurst, that's my boy there and he was my host.
"Actually, Corey Nelson, said I'm a baby shark but I'm not full blown until I get there.
"It's great, we really hit it off, as soon as we met, it was just an honor to meet those guys and I know that they are going to be great teammates at me."
As mentioned, the Sooners see Harris as a field cornerback - a role currently filled by Sooner junior Hurst. Not surprisingly the nation's No. 105 prospect had plenty to talk about with his host.
"I was watching him, and I was asking him questions, I asked him so many questions, I don't know how many he answered that night. He is a great player, he kind of came from where I came from and he is a great player, and someday he'll be playing on Sundays," he explained.
Hurst and the rest of the current Sooners gave him a taste for just what he can expect in the upcoming Summer workouts in Norman. In fact, they made it clear that the work is put in during the summer so that the Sooners can have fun in the fall.
"They just said you need to come in with the mindset you are going to work hard and there is no way to get out of it and the fun time is in the fall when you are winning big bowl games, just come in ready to grind," he said.
Harris was on campus as Oklahoma downed his father's alma mater, Texas A&M, 41-25. He says his father suffered no conflict of interest and even threw a 'horns down' with him during the game. Interestingly he'll be taking on a future Texas Longhorn on Friday night when the Jaguars hook up with Texas power Copperas Cove in the first round of Texas' 5A division-two playoffs.
"We play Copperas Cove, they have a heck of an athlete (Orlando Thomas) committed to Texas at quarterback. We've got to be focused and read our keys, we've just got to come in and make plays, we've got to get him out of his comfort zone and get him used to playing a game he isn't used to - he is a heck of a player though," Harris explained.
Horn may have gone 4-6 this year but Harris sees a team that has rounded into form late in the season and much like last year's Jaguar squad he thinks a surprising playoff run could be in store for his team.
"It's an honor, the beginning of the season everybody thought we were going to be the team to let traditions go and not make playoffs. They don't realize last year started off just like this, we've got an opportunity to make a deep run, we're just going to make it harder for our opponents."
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