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- US American football quarterback, born 2002
SAN ANTONIO — OU inside linebackers coach Brian Odom wasn’t happy with sophomore linebacker Shane Whitter during a practice early in spring ball.
Whitter had developed a reputation as one of the fastest players on the team since his arrival, so when a call came in that had him taking responsibility for the quarterback on a zone read play, Odom was stunned when the quarterback beat him to the sideline.
“I thought Shane wasn’t giving great effort,” said Odom, the Sooners’ acting defensive coordinator for Wednesday’s Alamo Bowl (8:15 p.m., ESPN).
It didn’t take Odom long to learn, though, that the speed of OU freshman quarterback Caleb Williams is what made Whitter look slow, not any loafing on the linebacker’s part.
“Come to find out, Caleb Williams runs about 21 mph,” Odom said. “So he’s obviously a threat when he carries the ball.”
Williams has made quite the impression on Odom, both on and off the field.
“The thing I do like about Caleb, though, is his energy and his leadership ability from the quarterback position and just being able to be a likeable guy,” Odom said.
“A lot of times you can kind of measure that. When my own son goes up there and he goes to practice and he goes and gets a handshake or (Williams) daps up my 12-year-old son, he doesn’t necessarily know that that’s my son, but that’s kind of who he is. I think he’s a special one.”
Woodi Washington returning
As a third-year player, Sooners cornerback Woodi Washington has the opportunity to leave after the season, but Washington said Sunday he’d already decided to remain with the Sooners next season.
“I’m definitely coming back next year,” Washington said.
Washington was limited this season due to injuries.
He started the first two games before suffering an injury against Western Carolina on Sept. 11, then didn’t play against until the Baylor game on Nov. 13. He returned to the starting lineup for the final two games of the regular season.
Going into the Alamo Bowl, he has 20 tackles, two interceptions and a pass breakup.
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OU aware of COVID dangers but optimistic game will be played
As other bowl games have been canceled due to outbreaks of COVID-19 and with the rise of the omicron variant, protocols have been at the top of mind for teams returning from holiday breaks.
The Sooners traveled to San Antonio on Christmas Eve and went through a practice Sunday at Incarnate Word’s stadium.
Things could change, but OU appears to be full-steam-ahead on playing in the Alamo Bowl.
“The university did an outstanding job being able to get us through the 2020 season,” Odom said. “The majority of our staff and players are vaccinated. We are masking within meetings. Other than that, we’re following our typical protocols, which I would envision would be as strenuous as anybody in the country. The whole point of that would be so we can play the game.
“You can’t control what goes on 24 hours a day, especially whenever you live in a hotel for a week, and they’re going to have free time. There’s certain things you can’t control, but on our end of the university, speaking for the university, we’re doing our fair share of our protocols to ensure that this will go on.”
Friday’s Hawai’i Bowl was wiped out after Memphis had already made the trip and Sunday, both the Military and Fenway bowls were canceled.
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DaShaun White ‘enjoying the moment’
Amid all the transition, Sooners’ linebacker DaShaun White said he’s trying to soak in the experience of the Alamo Bowl as best he can this week.
“I don’t know if any of the last few months have been normal, but I would say that for me, it’s been about really just enjoying the moment, embracing all the opportunities I have with my teammates, coaches — just spending a lot of time with them on and off the field. It’s as simple as that to me.”
Reggie Grimes relishing leadership role
Defensive end Reggie Grimes wasn’t one of the obvious leaders for OU’s defense this season.
But with veteran linebacker Caleb Kelly hurt and defensive linemen Isaiah Thomas and Perrion Winfrey plus linebackers Nik Bonitto and Brian Asamoah opting out, Grimes has taken on much more of that role in the lead up to the Alamo Bowl.
“This whole transition’s been kind of smooth,” Grimes said. “I think I’ve taken to the guys, the guys have taken to me as well. We all have one common goal and that’s to win — win, to make plays, to be the guys that we came here to be. You don’t come to Oklahoma to not be a dude, you know what I mean?”
This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: OU football: Caleb Williams made great first impression on Brian Odom