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Joey Halzle Q&A
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New signal caller chats about future
Oklahoma had plenty of reasons to celebrate the 2005 holiday season, beginning with its Holiday Bowl victory over Oregon. A few days earlier, the Sooners had received word that Joey Halzle, a 6-foot-4, 215-pound quarterback from Golden West Community College in Huntington Beach, Calif., had decided his future was in Norman.
Halzle enrolled for the second semester and is on campus at Oklahoma, preparing to start his Sooner football career under the tutelage of Bob Stoops and quarterback coach Josh Heupel. He giveâ€™s the Sooners another scholarship quarterback, something this program needed desperately heading into 2006 spring practice.
Sooner Spectator caught up with Halzle (pronounced Halls-Lee) recently and talked to him about becoming a Sooner...
Sooner Spectator: What are your impressions of Norman?
Joey Halzle: I love it down here. Iâ€™ve loved it since I visited back in December. I like the kind of small town feel with all the Oklahoma stuff in everyoneâ€™s windows and on their cars, and stuff like that. I like the feel of the town a lot.
SS: Coming into Oklahoma, a lot of people might think you were a highly recruited guy in high school, but was that the case?
Halzle: No, it wasnâ€™t. Coming out of high school, I didnâ€™t have any offers after my senior year. I was going to be an invited walk-on to the University of Oregon and I just talked with my coach and decided to go down to junior college in Huntington Beach at Golden West. I decided to take a year to see if I could earn a scholarship. Right before my first year started, I broke my ankle and I used that as a greyshirt year. I did that and I didnâ€™t lose any eligibility or anything, and I put on a lot of weight and another inch of height. I just needed an extra year to develop.
SS: So when you finally got to junior college, when did you realize you had a chance to go to a big-time school?
Halzle: After game five or six. I saw a highlight tape and I started sending it out all over the place. The main schools I heard back from were Oklahoma, Michigan and Wyoming. After that, I was pretty happy. But at that point you never really know if itâ€™s going to happen or if itâ€™s just one of those things where people are giving you a call back.
Then Oklahoma kept in contact and I sent them a couple of game films and they liked it. Chuck Long was actually the coach recruiting me at first. He came out and visited my family the week before I left on my official visit to Oklahoma. Then I went to visit and committed while I was out here. I didnâ€™t even take my trips to Michigan or Wyoming.
SS: Were you more intrigued by Oklahoma than the other schools even before you came on that official visit?
Halzle: I was. I was leaning toward Oklahoma and then when I came out here, I loved it and decided to commit while I was here.
SS: So why would you come to Oklahoma with Rhett Bomar seemingly having a stranglehold on the starting job?
Halzle: When I was talking with Coach (Bob) Stoops, he was just telling me that Iâ€™d have the opportunity to compete and thatâ€™s what I liked. You compete for the job and the best manâ€™s going to play. Anywhere you go from here on out youâ€™re going to have to compete for your job. Itâ€™s not going to be given to anybody. Theyâ€™re going to play their best man. I liked that (at Oklahoma) and I like the fact I can walk in and have the opportunity.
SS: How big will it be to have spring football to look forward to in terms of having a better chance to compete for the job in 2006?
Halzle: I think that makes all the difference. You donâ€™t have to waste time learning the offense during the summer and stuff like that. I can start learning from day one. I can start competing and going into meetings and I can develop relationships with other guys on the team and just studying film will be great too.
SS: How would you describe yourself as a quarterback? Are you more a pocket passer or a run/pass quarterback?
Halzle: Iâ€™m more of a pocket passer. I can run a little bit. Iâ€™ll run if I have to, but I would be considered more of a pocket passer.
SS: How do you see yourself fitting into the Oklahoma offense?
Halzle: I just like my ability to read defenses and stuff like that. Iâ€™m an accurate passer and I like to study film and all that kind of stuff. I like the cerebral side of the game. I think Iâ€™ll fit in pretty well.
SS: You sound like youâ€™d fit in really well with Josh Heupel, because he was always known for his film study when he was at Oklahoma?
Halzle: Yeah, thatâ€™s what I hear about Coach Heupel. Thatâ€™s what I hear about him is heâ€™s a big film room guy. I like that. Iâ€™m looking forward to that.
SS: Since Chuck Long recruited you, it was probably shocking to hear he was leaving. Did his departure every make you rethink your commitment to OU?
Halzle: No. I never doubted my commitment to Oklahoma at all. It took me aback for a second when I saw it scroll across the bottom of my TV. But I never wavered at all. I knew I was coming to Oklahoma. It wasnâ€™t one guy. (Chuck Long) wasnâ€™t the reason I was coming here. I liked everything about the program and Coach Stoops is a great coach. All the players are great and the facilities and the entire feel of Oklahoma football was great.
SS: Had you already signed your letter of intent before Long left?
Halzle: No, I had not.
SS: So there was never any thought of looking at San Diego State?
Halzle: Not at all.
SS: With Kevin Wilson taking over the offense, you probably watched the Holiday Bowl with a lot of interest?
Halzle: Yeah. The offense looked great in the Holiday Bowl. I was really impressed. It looked like they had Oregonâ€™s defense on their heels the entire time. I was really impressed with the offensive play calling in the Holiday Bowl.
SS: Did Coach Heupel put you at ease pretty quickly as far as being Chuck Longâ€™s replacement?
Halzle: Coach Stoops immediately called me when Coach Long took the job at San Diego State. He just told me they would have another great coach to come in and fill his spot. Oklahomaâ€™s always going to have a great coach. I was confident in that. Then when I heard it was Coach Heupel â€” heâ€™s had a great career here and I really respect him as a person and a coach, so I was really happy it was him. I know itâ€™s going to be a great situation.
SS: Coach Heupel has a very similar background to yours as far as not being highly recruited. But he came in and won a national title and was a runner-up for the Heisman Trophy. Thatâ€™s an early bond right there as far as the lack of scholarship offers isnâ€™t it?
Halzle: Yeah, I didnâ€™t even know that at first. But thatâ€™s very interesting to me. Itâ€™s kind of cool that we have that in common.
SS: It would seem as a quarterback that youâ€™re coming into this program with incredible talent around you in Adrian Peterson and the young receiving corps?
Halzle: Oh yeah. Thereâ€™s great talent all over that field and everyone is really young too. All the receivers look great and everyone knows about Adrian. Heâ€™s one of the best running backs in the country if not the best. Itâ€™s a great situation to come into.
SS: It has to be exciting knowing the only other scholarship quarterback on campus wants you to come in and take his spot so he can move to wide receiver full time?
Halzle: Itâ€™s great that I get to step on the field right in that spot and that I have a chance to compete. Iâ€™m just happy I get to compete for that No. 1 spot too. I think itâ€™s a good situation for me.
(Editor's Note: This story originally appeared in Sooner Spectator magazine.)