By JOHN SHINN
NORMAN — The Big 12 Conference’s reputation for offense continues to snowball. Its teams continue to put up massive offensive numbers. Nevertheless, the highlight play of the first six weeks of the season wasn’t a miraculous catch by a wide receiver.
Oklahoma cornerback Aaron Colvin’s leaping pick of Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege at the line of scrimmage last week will be hard to top.
“That was an athletic play,” OU cornerback Demontre Hurst said. “For him to jump in the air and catch a ball like that was pretty impressive.”
It’s a player like Colvin who may separate the 13th-ranked Sooners from the rest of the Big 12’s defense. OU has defensive backs that are making plays that rival some of the league’s outstanding receivers. Colvin could be the best of the bunch.
“He’s a great cover guy. He’s a great athlete. He’s got great ball skills. And he’s highly competitive,” OU coach Bob Stoops said. “He’s a guy who takes pride every day in how he plays. Even out there against the scout team, he can’t stand it if they catch one ball on him. He’s really playing great.”
The Sooner coach said after the Texas Tech game that Colvin has the ability to be as good or better than any defensive back that’s played at OU. When you consider the program has produced three Jim Thorpe Award winners (Rickey Dixon, Roy Williams and Derrick Strait), it’s incredibly high praise.
“It’s definitely motivating but at the same time I remember I had trouble being humble about certain situations,” Colvin said. “I’ve been at the worst ends of that. I’m definitely taking that as a motivator and I’m very appreciative of that, but I still have a lot of learning to do.”
After watching him on Saturday, it’s hard to believe Colvin is in his first season as a starting cornerback. He was OU’s strong safety last season and led the team in tackles. The position switch was made because defensive coordinator Mike Stoops believed Colvin would have more of an impact on the perimeter of the defense.
The Sooners (3-1, 1-1 Big 12) face No. 15 Texas (4-1, 1-1) at 11 a.m. on Saturday in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. Having cornerbacks that can lock down receivers is an advantage.
“You’ve got to have great corner play to be successful in any league. I don’t think that’s any great revelation, whether it’s in the NFL or college. I feel like we’re getting good play out there on the perimeter, “ OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. “That’s going to be a big factor in this game Saturday. “
But what is it that has made Colvin so effective at corner?
He’s not exceptionally big (6-0, 180 pounds). He has good speed, but it’s doubtful anyone will mistake him for an Olympic sprinter.
There isn’t one special attribute. It’s a mixture of many that has put Colvin on a pedestal.
“Aaron is a very complete player. Aaron does way more than cover. He is a very instinctual player. He finds the football quickly. He understands concepts, where help is. That isn’t news to anybody,” Mike Stoops said. “From day one when I saw him once he got healthy, I knew he was a special player.”
The Sooners’ special players always seem to have a major impact in the Red River Rivalry. Colvin will be walking down the Cotton Bowl ramp for the third time. He played well in both those games. But he’s a better player now. That athletic ability is starting to shine through more and more with every game.
“I’m just excited to go out there and play,” Colvin said.