Apr. 13—Missing a full season weighed on Jalen Redmond.
As proud as he was, it didn't make it any easier watching his roommate and fellow defensive lineman, Isaiah Thomas, enjoy a breakout season, as did the rest of Oklahoma's defense under second-year defensive coordinator Alex Grinch.
"It was hard sitting out," Redmond said, "and some part of me wanted to come back at a point of it."
Redmond opted out of OU's 2020 season due to concerns over COVID-19 and his history with blood clots.
Reducing his chance of exposure to the virus was the best choice for him and his family, and while he wanted to get back with the team sooner, he knew he had to wait it out.
"I had to do what was right for my health and my body," Redmond said. "Watching the games, it was hard. I wanted to be out there with those guys and I'm back, so I'm happy."
Redmond, who spent the 2020 season training and trying to stay mentally in check, did rejoin the Sooners prior to their meeting with Florida in the Cotton Bowl Classic.
He had no hesitation when his coaches approached him about returning for OU's bowl preparation and didn't care much he wouldn't be able to play against the Gators, who the Sooners beat 55-20 at AT&T Stadium to end their latest campaign.
Redmond, OU's 2019 sacks leader with 6.5 to go with a team third-leading 11.0 tackles for loss, is elated to be practicing with the team full-time again. He's just as motivated to get next season started as he was the year after his freshman season that was derailed due to blood clots.
"Back then, I didn't know if I was going to get to play football again half the time," said Redmond, who signed with OU out of Midwest City High School.
"So missing this season, it did me a big favor. I'm hungry. I'm ready to attack this thing and make it happen."
OU's coaches are as well.
"Thrilled to have him back," Grinch said. "His best football continues to be in front of him. ... Everybody's story is different, and he's gonna have a heck of one at the end of this deal."
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