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OU football: Trey Sermon says he’s entering sophomore season leaner, faster

April 5, 2018 GMT

NORMAN — Trey Sermon is excited about Oklahoma’s running backs room.

Sermon has learned from Rodney Anderson, the veteran who could be a Heisman Trophy candidate next season. The sophomore said he has been impressed with redshirt freshman Kennedy Brooks and early enrollee T.J. Pledger. He also has high expectations for himself.

“There’s a lot of talent,” Sermon said after a recent practice. “Each one of us is a special back. We’re all competing and just working hard. I think we have a really good group.”

Sermon made an immediate impact in his first season. The 6-foot, 222-pounder from Marietta, Georgia, rushed for 744 yards and five touchdowns and caught 16 passes for 139 yards and two TDs.

Sermon also was an early enrollee last spring, which allowed him to jump-start his freshman season.

“I feel a lot different, just mentally. I’m more comfortable with the speed of the game and just understanding everything,” Sermon said. “Physically, I feel that I’m a lot leaner which helps me be quicker and faster, which is improving my game, as well.”

Running backs coach Jay Boulware, who said Sermon was the best pass protector at the position, was asked how much better he could get.

“There’s a lot of improvement there. It’s not Adrian Peterson out there. If he was A.D., I’d say, ‘OK, we’re good.’ But he’s dropped his speed. His speed has gone down, meaning he’s gotten better from last year. From this time last year in January to where he tested last year, I think it was three-tenths of a second gone down,” Boulware said. “He’s a faster player than he was last season. He’s in better condition and he’s strong. But Rodney’s the one, he’s leading them. He is. He’s the one who’s leading them and Trey is right in his hip pocket, pushing himself to play at that level.

“The makeup in the room is really good, and Trey is one of those guys that is right there with him.”

Sermon said Anderson has been a leader not only in the running backs room but for the entire teaml.

Sermon was in the 2017 recruiting class alongside Brooks and is glad his teammate has returned to the field following shoulder surgery, which forced him to redshirt last season.

“It’s just amazing to see him out there full go,” Sermon said. “It was pretty difficult (not having Brooks in 2017). Losing one guy, we didn’t have as much depth. But we all just kept trying to work hard.”

“On one of his runs, just seeing him run down the field, it was amazing. There’s goes Kennedy, he’s doing really good.”

Sermon sees a lot of himself in Pledger, who is learning the system like he did last spring.

“He’s definitely learned pretty quick,” Sermon said. “He’s done really good so far. He’s always trying to get better, which is really good, especially being that young. I was the same way coming in early.

“He’s a really special back. He has really good patience. A lot of running backs who come in early don’t really have that, especially at this level. It’s just amazing to see how well he’s doing so far.”