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Heâ€™s the second to the last guy on the roster. Only a handful of players are shorter than him â€” none by more than an inch. And he might tip the scales at 200 pounds wearing all of his pads and carrying a sack of groceries in each arm.
Meet D.J. Wolfe, a guy who is hard to pick out in a crowd, but one that Oklahoma coaches expect to stand head-and-shoulders above the competition this season.
Exactly one year ago, Wolfe was taking handoffs from Jason White against Houston. He toted the ball 13 times for 63 yards in that game and even grabbed a pass for 27 yards. He finished the season with 109 rushing yards and three tackles on special teams.
But coaches had bigger plans for the Lawton Eisenhower product and his 4.4 speed in the 40-yard dash.
During the offseason, Wolfe made a position switch. Coaches asked him to give up running the ball and instead start running down opposing receivers.
It was an easy decision.
Sooner Spectatorâ€™w Bobby Anderson ran down Wolfe after a recent practice to find out his mindset and what it takes to make such a drastic switch.
Sooner Spectator:What has been the biggest adjustment youâ€™ve had to make in the transition?
D.J. Wolfe: I think it was the mindset. I think when they first approached me with it, I was down for it. But I think now Iâ€™m really, really tuned into it and Iâ€™m not worried about running back at all. I think the mindset really helps.
SS: What was the summer like for you?
Wolfe: It was pretty good. Just strength training and stuff like that. A lot of the time was taken out with Coach (Jerry Schmidt) and a lot of other guys on the staff took time out to help with extra footwork and stuff like that, and I feel like that really helped me be in this position right now.
SS: How much defensive back experience do you have?
Wolfe: I started every year in high school at running back and D-back, but I got no further than the second game of the year, you know, playing because I was carrying a lot of our teamâ€™s workload at running back. I got five or 10 plays on defense and that was that. So, it was like learning all over again I guess.
SS: What was the feeling like last year against Houston when you got that first carry? Were there butterflies?
Wolfe: I think that was I guess maybe the start of a new beginning. It was college and thatâ€™s a big step above high school and not everybody can do it. It just really made me realize what I wanted to do and thatâ€™s play football at the University of Oklahoma, so I just loved that moment.
SS: How does this team differ from the one that ended the season last year in the national title game?
Wolfe: We lost a lot of guys, but overall the team is pretty much the same. We have the same base, the same corps, the same coaching staff and everything. Thereâ€™s still the same coaches, same strategy and weâ€™re still going to be in the right position. Itâ€™s just that some of young guys have to step up and fill the void that maybe an older guy left. I think weâ€™re ready for it.
SS: Dusty Dvoracek has come back and then you guys had the big blow of losing Larry Birdine. How is the defenseâ€™s chemistry right now?
Wolfe: I think itâ€™s pretty good right now. Weâ€™re gelling. The thing we do well here is we get a lot of different guys reps and I think that really helps in the situation like we had with Larry. There was another guy ready to step in, and at a place with a great tradition like that, you have to be ready. You come to the University of Oklahoma and you know youâ€™re going to compete for a spot and you know if youâ€™re not going to earn that spot or youâ€™re not going to be starting you know youâ€™re going to be doing everything it takes to be ready when your name is called. I think thatâ€™s a good thing for us.
SS: Youâ€™ve played offense, youâ€™ve played defense. What is your favorite thing to do on a football field?
Wolfe: I donâ€™t know yet. I really canâ€™t call that. I really say I like them both. If it helps the team, Iâ€™m all down for it.
SS: At the end of last year could you ever imagine doing anything but running the ball and catching passes?
Wolfe: Probably not. But like I said, once it was proposed to me, it was fine and I was all for it. This is my job now and I want to go out and be the best at what I do.
SS: There are going to be people who say this secondary doesnâ€™t have a lot of experience and it is not as talented as in years past. How do you feel you guys rank as a unit right now?
Wolfe: I feel that we have just as much talent as any other unit weâ€™ve had, but the main thing is playing for the team as well as playing for each other. I think if we do that weâ€™ll have not only a strong team, but a strong secondary as well.
SS: Whatâ€™s it been like working with Coach Brent Venables?
Wolfe: Oh, man. It was a little switch up. You know Coach Long is the offensive coordinator and heâ€™s not as vocal. Coach Venables, his style is unique and itâ€™s helpful to the guys. He gets said what he needs to get said and as a player you have to do your job. I feel that any coach can do that, but every coach has different styles and techniques about that.
SS: What are your thoughts about starting this season?
Wolfe: Itâ€™s really good. Everybodyâ€™s dream is to become a starter. I take full responsibility for that. Iâ€™m ready to go.