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Oklahoma's Jerry Schmidt Has Players 'Looking the Part' in Preseason Camp

Oklahoma players have bought into the new staff's strength and conditioning program, and it’s already paying off on the field.

As Oklahoma embraces fall camp, players and coaches hope a noticeable difference in the weight room will make an immediate impact on the field.

When Brent Venables was hired in Norman, he had to bring on an entirely new staff from the ground up. One hire was easy, though, and seemed destined to happen. Snatching away former strength coach Jerry Schmidt from Texas A&M was a must for Venables.

So far, the addition seems to have paid dividends for Oklahoma. Players have added or lost weight accordingly and seem to be right where they want to be. Over the course of the offseason, many players have mentioned the elite strength staff and the team’s physical improvement. The mindset in the weight room seems to have shifted completely, and the team looks noticeably different.

“I think the biggest thing, is we’ve gotten stronger, faster,” Venables said. “We started looking around, you’re like, ‘OK, we kind of look the part.’ Maybe not surprising, but for me, I’m always looking at everything. So yeah, we got a good look to us, physically. Guys have transformed through both our spring and summer programs. That’s been very encouraging.”

Jalen Redmond is an obvious example that has benefitted from a fresh offseason, as he mentioned at OU media day he was up to nearly 300 pounds. On the flip side, defensive coordinator Ted Roof said linebacker David Ugwoegbu lost 20 pounds to become faster and more versatile across the middle. Those are two key players for Oklahoma that made serious changes in the weight room this offseason.

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As the team starts to gel and become more comfortable on the field, the extra strength will be easier to notice. It will also allow the players to play with an extra hint of confidence, trusting their own preparation.

“Guys feel confident because of the work they’ve put in,” Venables said. “That’s kind of where you get your swag and your edge is, by the work you put in. Not because of people talking about you. Our guys have genuine edge to them right now.”

With some players altering body type and weight classes to fit positions, they are putting a lot of trust in the coaching staff. The team has had to fully buy-in in the weight room this offseason. After a spring and summer full of improvement, Venables is just excited for the changes to finally be on display.

“They’re hungry,” Venables said. “I love the engagement of this group of players, like they’re engaged, as opposed to just going to practice. Because it’s easy just to go to practice, and our guys have been engaged.

“Been very purposeful, one day at a time, showing up with goals and a focus about them, giving us a chance to have daily improvement. That’s been a lot of fun to watch that happen.”