Gresham back for title run
BY JOHN E. HOOVER World Sports Writer
Thursday, August 06, 2009
8/07/09 at 7:17 AM
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On Wednesday, for the last time as an Oklahoma Sooner, Jermaine Gresham reported to preseason training camp.
Gresham and the Sooners begin preparation for the 2009 football season on Thursday. The All-American tight end from Ardmore says one of the reasons he came back for his senior year instead of jumping early to the NFL was because his career "felt incomplete" after ending last season with a loss to Florida in the national championship game.
So Gresham — one of three Oklahoma-grown preseason All-Americans on the OU roster — made a declaration last week.
"Anything less than a national championship would be (a disappointment)," Gresham said. "That's what we work for and play for. Nobody on this team plays for individual awards — nobody. We play as one and the ultimate goal is to win every game."
OU is a consensus No. 2, 3 or 4 pick this summer. The Associated Press preseason Top 25 and the USA Today coaches preseason Top 25 will be released later in August. At OU, winning another Big 12 title — it would be their fourth in a row, and Bob Stoops' seventh — is not unexpected. Going undefeated is a solid possibility.
But winning the national championship? Winning a Bowl Championship Series game? Those expectations, Gresham acknowledged, are a little bit different. OU has lost its last three title game appearances and has now dropped five BCS games in a row. The Sooners' only bowl victory since the 2002 Rose Bowl was in 2005, when they beat Oregon in the Holiday Bowl.
"We need to win one. There's no ifs, ands or buts about (it)," Gresham said. "We've lost how many? A lot. It's time to buckle down and win one."
Stoops said critics shouldn't discount OU's paralleled run of three straight conference crowns.
"Now sure, we want to win a BCS game, too," he said, "but if you start discounting Big 12 championships, that's pretty foolish."
But, Gresham said, as long as Stoops resides in Norman — in June he got a contract extension that will average $4.304 million through 2015 — OU fans will be happy. Gresham said the idea is false that the graduation of himself and senior offensive tackle Trent Williams, coupled with the anticipated early NFL departures of quarterback Sam Bradford and junior defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, will somehow leave the cupboard bare.
"Nope. We're just players in a system," Gresham said. "After your four years are up, you're gone and someone will come in and do the same job you did. It's the University of Oklahoma. It will always be about more than one person or a couple people.
"As long as coach Stoops is here, OU will have great teams."
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STEPHEN HOLMAN/Tulsa World file