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OU linebacker talks to SS
When the conversation turns to the current linebacking corps at Oklahoma, the first three names mentioned are usually going to be Rufus Alexander, Clint Ingram and Zach Latimer, which makes sense since they are the starters. Right behind that talented trio comes Demarrio Pleasant, and for good reason.
The 6-foot-2, 235-pound Texas native is developing into one of the top backups in the Big 12 Conference. In only his redshirt-sophomore season, Pleasant has played well when the opportunity has presented itself, like in his first career start against UCLA earlier this season when he had a team-high 10 tackles.
Sooner Spectator writer-at-large Mark Stack spoke to Pleasant recently about his role with the team, his performance so far in 2005 and a few other subjects.
Sooner Spectator: While the team is improving, what do you think has been the most disappointing aspect of the season?
Pleasant: The games we lost because of a few mistakes. I know I feel that if we hadnâ€™t made those mistakes, we would have won. I think we have done a good job of looking back at those mistakes and getting them corrected. The bye week really helped us. It came just in time. It gave us a chance to study some teams we will play later on in the year, and gave us an extra week getting prepared for Kansas State.
SS: So do you believe the team is now starting to play the way it expected?
Pleasant: I do. We took practice real serious during the bye week. I think a lot of guys matured during that short time. The coaches got after us that week, and we practiced hard. I think the biggest thing is that we are starting to eliminate the turnovers. Just like coach said, if we eliminate all the turnovers, we are going to put everything together. Thatâ€™s what we did against Kansas State. We cut down on our turnovers. If you saw the first three games of the season, we had two or three turnovers each game. We didnâ€™t turn the ball over against Kansas State, put the defense together with the offense, and it all came together.
SS: How would you grade the linebackers to this point?
Pleasant: I give us an A. The guys have been all over the field, making plays. There are some areas where we need to get better, because you can always get better. But I feel the guys have been solid all year.
SS: You got your first start against UCLA and played well. What was the key to that performance?
Pleasant: I credit it to the coaches, getting us prepared for what all we are going to see on the field. From them getting us ready during the week, itâ€™s just like second nature once you get out on the field and start playing. Itâ€™s easy for us to eliminate routes and read the run game. It allows us to be able to go out there and play and have fun.
SS: You said itâ€™s second nature once you are on the field. How easily did things seem to come for you that game?
Pleasant: It was natural because normally as a (backup), you donâ€™t get as many reps during the week. But as the week went on, I got more comfortable with what they were doing out there. And when I got out there that Saturday, I just tried to process it all and react from there.
SS: You got the start because Clint Ingram was out with an injury. How do you prepare yourself as a two to go in and play on short notice?
Pleasant: Well, you know you arenâ€™t going to get as many reps because you have to get the starters ready, so you have to take mental reps. When they are out there practicing â€” like if Clint (Ingram) is out there â€” then I watch him every single play to see what he is doing. I can go through it in my head, because I may not get as many reps, so I have to approach it differently. And if you are called on to play, and arenâ€™t ready, you can cost your team the game.
SS: How did you become a linebacker?
Pleasant: Really, I was a fullback in high school and my coach said they were going to try me at linebacker during my freshman year. So I started playing both ways. But as I got older, I started getting better as a linebacker because my speed wouldnâ€™t allow me to play running back in high school.
SS: If you werenâ€™t playing football, would you be playing another sport?
Pleasant: Yeah. Basketball. Iâ€™ve always liked basketball more than football when I was coming up. But I was a much better football player as I got in high school. So I stuck with what I was good at.
SS: Why did you choose to play at Oklahoma?
Pleasant: It came down to Oklahoma and Florida. I chose OU because I wanted to win, and I knew Coach (Bob) Stoops was a great coach. I knew if I came here, I would learn everything I needed to be successful and hopefully move on to the next level as long as I did everything that I was supposed to do.
SS: Was it a difficult decision to finally make?
Pleasant: No, not really. Florida is far away from Texas and Oklahoma was only two hours away. That had a big impact as well, because I wanted my family to be able to watch me play.
SS: Now that you are seeing more playing time, what do you hope to accomplish as a player?
Pleasant: I just want to be the best player I can be. To know how to play hard every game and try to make plays, big or small. I want to be a good teammate so guys know they can rely on me. And ultimately, I would like to win a national championship. Thatâ€™s what we are all out here working for.
SS: Who has been the most inspirational person in your life?
Pleasant: My mom. Sheâ€™s just a strong person. She had me and my sister at an early age, so she didnâ€™t get to go to college or anything like that. I think she did a great job of raising us, and she worked incredibly hard to get where she is today.
SS: How much can you bench press?
Pleasant: We donâ€™t really see how high you can go here. But I can do 315 pounds four times.
SS: Whatâ€™s in your CD player right now?
Pleasant: Young Jeezy.
SS: If you could have dinner with one person, who would it be?
Pleasant: Thatâ€™s easy. Beyonce.