McCoy, Sooners carry first-round clout
AP Sports Writer
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) – With all the first-round prospects coming out of Oklahoma for this year’s NFL draft, St. Louis Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo could be getting to know the Norman campus quite well over the next month.
Carrying the No. 1 pick with them, Spagnuolo and general manager Billy Devaney visited the Sooners’ pro timing day Tuesday, getting another chance to see defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, offensive tackle Trent Williams, tight end Jermaine Gresham and others after last week’s NFL combine.
Quarterback Sam Bradford wasn’t among those to work out in front of representatives of 31 NFL teams but Spagnuolo says he’ll be back when the 2008 Heisman Trophy winner holds his own session on March 25.
“I’m going to camp out here for a while,” Spagnuolo joked.
Spagnuolo said the Rams would love to find a way to split the pick and use it on more than one player. Instead, they’ll have a big decision to make in next month’s draft.
While some wonder if Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh will be the top pick, the Sooners are providing the Rams with plenty of options. McCoy, Bradford and Williams give Oklahoma the opportunity to have three top 10 picks for the first time in the program’s history and become only the sixth school to have three players taken that high in the past 50 years. Auburn was the last to pull off the feat, when Ronnie Brown, Cadillac Williams and Carlos Rogers were among the first nine players taken in 2005.
“The thing is we all came in together, three of us grew up together and it’s good to see everybody reach their dreams and to see all the hard work they did pay off,” McCoy said.
McCoy spent most of the first hour and a half off on his own, stretching and getting warmed up while his former teammates went through the tests he’d already done at the combine. Then he went to work, veering around cones and pads and clubbing his way through tackling dummies set up on the turf at Oklahoma’s indoor practice facility.
“He makes plays, he forces double-teams, people have to worry about him because he’s a talented guy and can rush the passer,” Spagnuolo said. “That would be typical of any defensive tackle that you thought was meriting being a first-round pick.”
Spagnuolo said he was also glad to get the chance to spend some more time with McCoy, meet his father and pick coach Bob Stoops’ brain. All the information about his personality and character will be a part of his draft evaluation, too.
“When you’re really trying to mold a bunch of guys together, you want them to get along, you want them to be a family,” Spagnuolo said. “I know coach Stoops preaches that here and it’s why he’s had success, and we do the same thing in the NFL.”
Spagnuolo said he’d also had a chance to meet Bradford, who missed most of last season with an injured throwing shoulder, briefly at the combine but he was “looking forward to spending some more time with him.
“We’ve got a little ways to go,” Spagnuolo said. “Got to see where he is health-wise.”
McCoy, whose friendship with Bradford predates their time together at Oklahoma, said he’d have no problem with it if he were the No. 2 pick behind the quarterback.
“I’m not trying to battle with him. That’s why I call him King Sam, because that’s what he is,” McCoy said. “That’s just how I always look at him, and I wish Sam the best. If Sam can go (No.) 1, I would be very happy for him. He has worked really hard. Sam went through a lot this year but he’s not letting it stop him, and he still has the ability and the chance to go with the first pick.”
McCoy said he planned to return for Bradford’s workout and redo his bench press. He lifted the standard 225 pounds 23 times at the combine. That’s nine fewer than Nebraska’s Suh, the other top defensive tackle in the draft, and two fewer than McCoy says he was doing when he had only started his training.
“It was just nerves,” McCoy said. “I’m going to give myself a little bit of time off, keep training, then come back and do it on the 25th.”
Williams went through change-of-direction drills, hoping to improve his performance from the combine. Gresham, who missed all of last season after knee surgery, did a couple blocking drills before running routes and catching passes from former Sooners quarterback Joey Halzle.
Among others to workout were cornerbacks Dominique Franks and Brian Jackson, linebackers Keenan Clayton and Mike Balogun, offensive lineman Brian Simmons, receiver Adron Tennell and fullback Matt Clapp.
“Jermaine and Trent and G.K. (McCoy), they’re first-round guys, so they’re going to bring out all the scouts,” Clayton said. “Some of these guys might not even have been looking at some of the other guys but something happens here or something happens there that caught their eye and somebody opened the door for you.
“That’s all you need is an opportunity if you want it.”