Skip to main contentSkip to main content
You are the owner of this article.
You have permission to edit this article.
Edit
OKLAHOMA FOOTBALL

Venables 'excited' by offseason growth of an Oklahoma cornerback room in needing a 2022 resurgence

  • Updated
  • 0

The question to Brent Venables seemed like a simple one: How have Oklahoma’s cornerbacks grown since December’s Alamo Bowl?

But it didn’t yield a simple answer. In fact, it took the Sooners’ first-year head coach nearly seven minutes to unfurl his response July 14 at Big 12 Media Days.

Within his lengthy oration on OU’s corners, Venables dwelled on “buy-in”, harped on scheming to individual strengths and spoke about the importance of personal belief and the “power of the tongue”. He dropped praise for veteran defensive back Woodi Washington, freshman Gentry Williams and transfer C.J. Coldon, too. Along the way, here and there, Venables even got a few breaths in.

A little after the two-minute mark in his response, the 51-year old coach hit on the original question, delivering his clearest answer on the offseason development of a position group OU needs to be better in 2022.

“How we started in the spring to where we’re at now,” Venables explained. “Man, I’ve been so excited about that group and the depth that we’ve added.”

As the Sooners’ Aug. 4 report date approaches, Venables likes the collection of cornerbacks who will man the back end of the defense in his debut season and the progress they have made since the end of the 2021 season.

Returners such as Washington, D.J. Graham and Jaden Davis give Venables and OU experience to work with. And in transfers Coldon, Trey Morrison and Kani Walker, alongside newcomers like Williams, the former Booker T. Washington star, and Union freshman Jayden Rowe, the offseason has provided the Sooners an infusion of talent and depth at the position.

Venables is confident in the band of defensive backs, and on paper they hold promise. But in order for the former national champion defensive coordinator to overhaul OU’s defense, he will need much more from the group that allowed 261.8 passing yards per game and finished ninth in pass defense across the Big 12 last year.

“We got a good strong group of guys that, maybe their past hasn’t necessarily been indicative of what they’re capable of,” Venables said. “And a lot of times, they’ll be the first ones to tell you, they take responsibility in that, too.”

Here’s what else Venables and Washington, the redshirt junior, had to say about OU’s cornerbacks in Arlington last week:

Coldon made 82 tackles in 25 career games at Wyoming from 2018-2021. With the cornerback spots not fully settled for OU entering fall camp, Coldon will have the opportunity to compete for a starting job next month.

“I’ve just seen confidence in him,” Washington said of Coldon. “He has great, quick, lightning feet at the line. Uses his hands well. Has great eye discipline. He has all the tools to be an elite corner.”

Perhaps Coldon’s stiffest competition for a starting role will come from Graham, a junior who appeared in 12 games last fall and gained national fame from his eye-popping interception against Nebraska last fall.

“D.J.’s gonna be great for us this year,” Washington said. “... everyone looks at him for that catch, but he’s way more than that,” Washington said. “He’s a great tackler but nobody talks about that. He’s a great player all around.”

Williams comes to Norman for Year 1 as the No. 2-ranked recruit in the state of Oklahoma in his class, and Venables knows what he’s getting with the former Hornet.

“What I loved about (watching) Gentry Williams was, man, he was tough,” Venables said. “He’s a skill guy, but he’s tough. He’s a DB, but he’s a corner that played in the B gap, you know? Come off the edge, you know, played quarterback, ran jet sweeps, and stoning people in the run game. You know, just played with a toughness that you can’t coach.”

On Jayden Rowe, the four-star freshman from Union: “He’s 220 pounds and ran 4.41, 4.40, you know, jumped 40 inches,” Venables said. “And through some of the coaching work that we’ve been able to work with these guys this summer, his fundamentals and technique, man, he’s not quite as raw as we thought.”

In piecing together his secondary this fall and in the future, Venables will have plenty of options to chose from in OU’s cornerbacks room. Figuring out the right combination for 2022 is one of several challenges the first-year head coach will navigate in the coming weeks.

Complete Day 2 coverage of the Big 12 Media Days

Big 12 administrators, players and coaches once again gathered today in Arlington for the final day of the annual Big 12 Media Days event where they'll discuss the upcoming season.

OU coach Brent Venables and Sooner players met the media Thursday. OSU coach Mike Gundy and his players had interviews Wednesday. See all of our coverage from Day 1 here.

Come here for our coverage of the two-day event. We'll have stories, photos and videos.


  • Updated
  • 0

Tulsa World Columnist Guerin Emig and OU reporter Eli Lederman recap the Sooners at Big 12 Media Days. Ian Maule/Tulsa World

  • Updated
  • 0

Oklahoma players, assistants continue their assertion that the Sooners' new head man knows exactly what he's doing.

  • Updated
  • 0

Oklahoma quarterback Dillon Gabriel stood among the biggest stars in Arlington on Thursday as the first Sooners quarterback to attend the annual event since Baker Mayfield in 2017.

  • Updated
  • 0

Venables’ response, like Gundy’s Wednesday afternoon, offered a similar lack of assurance in Bedlam’s future once the Sooners make their impending exit.

editor's pick
  • Updated
  • 0

The 2022 campaign brings a clean slate for Sooners football. There’s a new coach in Brent Venables, an opportunity to rebuild a broken streak that included six straight league titles and the chance to look toward the future instead of live in the past.

  • Updated
  • 0

By virtue of this being his second season at the helm, Sarkisian has reason to believe 2022 will produce better results for the Longhorns.

editor's pick
  • Updated
  • 0

A look at 2022 Big 12 Media Days' final day with Oklahoma Sooners players and coach Brent Venables and others' interviews.

editor's pick
  • Updated
  • 0

The “Horns Down” gesture is universally directed at Texas. For years, opponents have aimed the hand signal at the Longhorns.

editor's pick
  • Updated
  • 0

Venables pointed out that 50 percent of the roster is made up of juniors and seniors and added that there are 13 graduate students on the team.

  • Updated
  • 0

Oklahoma coach Brent Venables: "This is a group and this is a locker room that's used to winning. Do we need to improve in every area? Absolutely."

  • Updated
  • 0

July 14, 2022 video. Cyclones head football coach answered at Big 12 Media Days. Video courtesy/Big 12

  • Updated
  • 0

July 14, 2022 video. Red Raiders new head football coach Joey McGuire answered at Big 12 Media Days. Video courtesy/Big 12

  • Updated
  • 0

July 14, 2022 video. Sooners head football coach answered at Big 12 Media Days. Video courtesy/Big 12

  • Updated
  • 0

July 14, 2022 video. Sooners head football coach answered at Big 12 Media Days. Video courtesy/Big 12

  • Updated
  • 0

July 14, 2022 video. Sooners head football coach answered at Big 12 Media Days. Video courtesy/Big 12

  • Updated
  • 0

July 14, 2022 video. Sooners head football coach answered at Big 12 Media Days. Video courtesy/Big 12

  • Updated
  • 0

July 14, 2022 video. Sooners head football coach answered at Big 12 Media Days. Video courtesy/Big 12

  • Updated
  • 0

July 14, 2022 video. Sooners head football coach answered at Big 12 Media Days. Video courtesy/Big 12

  • Updated
  • 0

July 14, 2022 video. Longhorns head football Steve Sarkisian coach answered at Big 12 Media Days. Video courtesy/Big 12

  • Updated
  • 0

July 14, 2022 video. Longhorns head football coach answered at Big 12 Media Days. Video courtesy/Big 12

  • Updated
  • 0

July 14, 2022 video. Horned Frogs head football coach answered at Big 12 Media Days. Video courtesy/Big 12

  • Updated
  • 0

July 14, 2022 video. Horned Frogs head football coach answered at Big 12 Media Days. Video courtesy/Big 12

0 Comments

Be the first to know

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

OU beat Writer

I came to the Tulsa World as an intern in 2019, returned in Aug. 2021 and now cover the Sooners with Eric Bailey. I'm a New Yorker, a graduate of the University of Missouri and an avid soccer (read: fútbol) fan. Let's talk: eli.lederman@tulsaworld.com

Related to this story

Most Popular

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.

Topics

Breaking News

News Alert