You could almost see the smile come across the face of Sooners head coach Brent Venables. In talking about the seven permanent team captains, there’s something for everyone.
“That’s a group of guys that all have a story,” Venables said. “You see the glory of being a permanent captain, but there’s a story behind all of them. And I love that about them, and that’s what I love about being a part of this locker room.”
Venables’ way of doing captains is a little bit different than most. OU has had weekly captains, and then naming of permanent guys at the end of the season.
The seven OU captains were voted on by their teammates Sunday and revealed Monday afternoon.
Quarterback Dillon Gabriel: 242-of-346 passing for 3,260 yards with 27 touchdowns and five interceptions. Rushed for 337 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Wide receiver Drake Stoops: 66 receptions for 755 yards, 11.4 average, nine touchdowns.
Offensive guard McKade Mettauer.
Defensive end Ethan Downs: 26 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, interception, five quarterback hurries.
Linebacker Danny Stutsman: 91 tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, interception, two pass breakups, two forced fumbles, fumble recovery.
Cornerback Woodi Washington: 38 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, five pass breakups.
Safety Billy Bowman: 52 tackles, three tackles for loss, five interceptions (two TDs), four pass breakups.
“They’re just model of consistency,” Venables said. “Highly invested guys, Consistency. Buy-in. Passion. Love for the game, love for their university. Love for their teammates. They’ve been amazing. They make everybody around them better. They’ve got the kind of toughness that you want your program to be all about. They value their opportunity every single day.
“They know that their time is limited and their role’s important and their platform is important and their influence is important. So again, all the selfless traits that you’ve gotta have and the work ethic, the toughness, the ability to persevere and endure is something I never take lightly.
“It’s easy to be a leader a day here, a day there, when you feel good. These are guys that show up no matter what the circumstances are. That’s a group of guys that will move the coach out of the way and say, I got this, Coach. You don’t always have that. But we have it. So I got tremendous thankfulness for that group of guys. Again, their work ethic, their consistency and their ability to just be a light sometimes in some dark moments, too. They’ve not flinched and they’ve been a model of what you want from the ability to overcome.”
Bowman earns honor
Bowman wasn’t just named a team captain. He was also named the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week for his outing at BYU.
Bowman had eight tackles and, of course, the 100-yard interception return for a touchdown in the third quarter of OU’s victory.
“Billy’s one of the most quiet people we have in our locker room, but there’s nobody that’s more highly invested than Billy,” Venables said. “Billy loves Oklahoma. He loves to play. He’s really hard on himself, puts a tremendous amount on himself.
“Got up in front of the guys at practice, and man, it was awesome to hear him because I’m always trying to poke him and get him to respond, have his teammates hear him because players have tremendous respect for him. But he’s become a much better player, and he has so much more growth. He’ll be the first one to tell you he’s so far from a polished product, but he has a chance to be great because of his work ethic, his attention to detail, his love for the game.
“Super easy to coach, always locked in. He’s always ready. It’s been a lot of fun to see him, again, grow and mature. But I say this, and he’s played really well this year, all his best football’s still in front of him.”