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Wednesday, April 17, 2013
What Heupel looks for in OU quarterbacks

By Jake Trotter

NORMAN, Okla. -- When recruiting quarterbacks, Oklahoma offensive coordinator Josh Heupel searches for the same attributes every other college coach probably does.

The strong arm. Quick release. Prototypical size. Steadfast leadership.

Heupel, however, covets something else other coaches might not -- quarterbacks who don’t just play football.

Sam Bradford and Josh Heupel
OU quarterbacks coach Josh Heupel said he looks for signal-callers who play multiple sports.
“We like guys that are multi-sport athletes,” said Heupel, who doubles as the Sooners’ quarterbacks coach. “They don’t have to be. But we want guys that are highly, highly competitive.”

Heupel and head coach Bob Stoops both believe the best way for quarterbacks to hone that characteristic in high school is by competing in various sports year around. Not just football.

“At the end of the day, that’s probably the most important characteristic, guys that want to win in everything they do,” Heupel said. “Seeing them compete, how they approach every single day in those kind of situations, that’s extremely high up on the board -- on top of the physical traits that you look for on tape.”

This isn’t lip service, either.

Over the weekend, the Sooners snagged a commitment from ESPN Watch List quarterback Justice Hansen (Edmond, Okla./Santa Fe), who also starts for Santa Fe’s basketball team.

Cody Thomas (Colleyville, Texas/Heritage), who signed with Oklahoma in February, is one of the top high school baseball outfielders in Texas and could get selected in the first-five rounds in the upcoming MLB draft.

And Sam Bradford, who was the No. 1 pick in the 2010 NFL draft, was also a standout basketball player and golfer at Putnam City North High School in Oklahoma City.

Even Heupel played basketball in high school before transferring to OU from junior college and quarterbacking the Sooners to the 2000 national championship.

“Almost all of our guys have been multi-sport athletes,” Heupel said. “I think being put in competitive situations is extremely important.”

Oklahoma’s recent quarterback success certainly backs that up.

Going back to Stoops’ second season in 2000, the Sooners have as many national award winners (five), Heisman Trophy finalists (four), Heisman winners (two) and passing-efficiency champs (two) as any program in the nation. Stoops has also had six different quarterbacks lead the Sooners to Big 12 titles.

“I don’t know if anyone,” Heupel said, “is doing it as well as we are at that position over the last 14 years.”

Getting competitive players, however, is just step one in the process, Heupel said.

“When they get here, the way we prepare our kids is unique and has really been a huge part of the success at that position,” he said.

Without revealing any company secrets, Heupel said the Sooners have a unique strength and conditioning program in place designed specifically for quarterbacks.

Heupel also lauded the work ethic culture Oklahoma has fostered among its quarterbacks, which dates back to when Heupel arrived as a player.

“The quarterbacks have been the hardest working players on our football team,” he said. “It’s a tradition that those kids take pride on that they pass on to one another. It drives them and pushes them to compete every single day. Against one another, but ultimately against themselves to be the absolute best they can be.

“That, combined with what they do in the weight room with the film study, and just how they prepare has given our guys the chance to be successful at an extremely high level.”