– BY MICHAEL KNIGHT
It’s no secret that football as we’ve known it over the last several decades is changing. More high schools are starting to participate in 7 on 7 events and that momentum doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. A group of trainers in the Tulsa area are following that tidal wave of momentum and have set up Oklahoma’s first elite 7 on 7 team. Think AAU on the gridiron. The Sooner 7 will be coached by Derek Rasmussen, Dwight Dobbins Jr. and Marcus Pugh, all three are currently training Oklahoma athletes.
Rasmussen is originally from Kansas City but came to Oklahoma when he was with the Tulsa Talons, a former arena football organization. Rasmussen specializes in quarterback training and will serve as the team’s head coach. Dobbins played at TU after graduating from Carl Albert. He has been training Tulsa-area defensive backs over the last few years. Pugh is a former track standout at Jenks. He would go on to win conference championships at OU. He specializes in speed development.
The three will have plenty of talent taking the field for them when they represent Oklahoma. The Sooner 7 have elite 2019 prospects like Dax Hill and DJ Jones out of Booker T Washington. They also feature marquee 2020 prospects like Broken Arrow’s Myles Slusher and Owasso’s Deuce Mayberry. That’s the tip of the iceberg when you look at the talented players that will be participating.
Rasmussen, Dobbins and Pugh all echo the same thing when they say that the goal for the Sooner 7 is two-fold. Get exposure for some of the Oklahoma athletes that may be getting overlooked. And this is another extension of their training that they already have in place.
The second part is very important. In order for the Sooner 7 to be successful in the long-term, they will need to have a good reputation. If high school coaches start to believe that participating in these events is harmful to their product on Friday night’s, that will be the end of it. While visiting with Rasmussen during a practice on Saturday it was very clear that his goal is to not hurt, but help the Friday night product.
For those not familiar with how 7 on 7 is done in surrounding states, it’s a completely different ballgame. High school teams will have their playbook for Friday night’s, and then they’ll have their 7 on 7 playbook. Oklahoma schools have not followed that model when they participate in tournaments. They run their playbook that you’ll see on a Friday night. And that’s what the Sooner 7 plans on doing. They won’t have receivers running a bunch of crossing patterns that are popular in 7 on 7 contests but never translate to the Friday night product.
With the first of anything, you’re always going to have questions that will need to be answered. We’ll see some of those answers on Saturday. The Sooner 7 will participate in their first ever tournament down in Houston. They’re easing into this season with how many tournaments they will commit to. But it all starts this Saturday in Houston.
Stay tuned to OKPreps for more information on the Sooner 7.