Layna Dewell, News9.com
DALLAS – The excitement of the 2011 college football season continued Tuesday at day two of the Big 12 Football media days. As anticipated, Bob Stoops and the Sooners were the most highly anticipated team to speak today, and they did not disappoint.
As the team entered the building they were greeted at the top of the escalators by a herd of media members and cameras and that was only the beginning. Travis Lewis seemed to be the media darling of the day as social media sites lit up with his entertaining comments all morning.
"If Texas can have their own network, I want mine—the Travis Lewis Network, we'll call is TLN," joked Lewis.
After meeting with national media first, the Sooners talked with local radio and print outlets about the highly anticipated season.
With a potential No. 1 preseason ranking, it didn't take long to talk expectations. When asked if this team can be better than last year, Broyles quickly responded "yeah, I believe so."
"The only time the No. 1 ranking matters is at the end of the year, said Lewis. "We aren't satisfied knowing how good we should be; rankings mean nothing to us."
Broyles went on to say "We have the right tools, the right players—I think we have a good set of guys that are ready to produce this year."
"Our goal every year is to win the national championship, we have a great team this year and I think we have a great chance this year," added Lewis.
One thing that continues to weight heavy on the hearts of the team as well as fans is the tragic loss of linebacker Austin Box. The 22-year-old died on May 19 after being found unconscious in a friend's El Reno home. His death was a shock to many but the team has come together through the tragedy and vowed to never forget.
"Austin was a great, great spirit in the locker room, he was a friend to everybody and is one of those special characters and a young person that everyone loved to see, so you miss that --and it doesn't go away, so there's no really proper way to describe it," said Stoops.
"We say a prayer before every workout and incorporate Austin's name into," said Lewis. "We remember him in everything we do."
"There are no words that truly describe how you hurt and how the players hurt," Said Stoops. "We're still working through it…we just try to put one foot in front of the other and move forward without forgetting."
Through it all, it was easy to tell, the Sooners are ready to get back on the field. Their excitement is evident, and the players are clearly doing their part to prepare for 2011.
"Physically I think I have the tools, the technique and those can always be sharpened, but mentally I feel like that's where you get an edge," said Broyles. "Reading defenses, really expecting what they're going to do, watching the film and seeing what a guys weak spot is, I think that's where you get an edge and that's really where I'm going to prepare myself on this year."
"I've been working on getting my feet and body in better position so I can be more accurate with my throws," said quarterback Landry Jones.
One thing Coach Stoops touched on was how much of a leader Jones has naturally developed into.
"Then you add the winner, the how hard he works that everyone recognizes and just now the experience, his confidence, all of it is natural as a guy matures and gains an age and gains success," said Stoops. "He's just become a really strong leader and now he is more comfortable in it as well. He's a true, true leader on this team and a special one."
Although the Sooners will be without star running back DeMarco Murray, they will look to a host of players in the backfield who all boast big potential.
"I'm really excited because there a lot of potential in that backfield with those running backs. Demarco being a fifth year senior a big strong guy and could do so much, you don't replace him, you have to replace him by committee," said Stoops. "We will divide it up. I think it'll benefit all of them being able to divide it up some. I feel good about it."
All in all, excitement is high, expectations are even higher and the Sooners seem to be ready for the challenge.
"The No. 1 doesn't matter now, it matters at the end of the season," said Broyles. "So we are going to lay our foundation now and work game by game to reach our destination."