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Arguably, no player in the state of Oklahoma has been more adamant about his interest in becoming a Sooner than McAlester, Okla. linebacker Devin Rolan. So it came as a surprise to many when Rolan was unable to attend either of Oklahoma's junior days on Feb. 4 and March 3.
However, in both cases Rolan's absence was quite explicable with a long-planned trip in February and a powerlifting meet with his McAlester teammates in March.
The absence was most noteworthy due to the change of linebackers coach from Brent Venables to Tim Kish. In hopes of making up for lost time Rolan recently came to Norman to watch Oklahoma's March 10 practice and meet Kish for the first time.
"Coach Kish was cool, I didn't really get to talk to him that much, they were pretty busy. I was just watching him go through practice, he is a pretty physical guy," Rolan said.
One guy who has been in Norman for several years now and has built a relationship with Rolan is two-year Sooner starter Tom Wort. During the trip Rolan, and fellow practice attendant T.J. Ponds, took a picture that made the rounds on Twitter.
Afterward Rolan and Wort had some time to catch up.
"He talked to me and kind of asked me and asked if I had talked to Venables any and was asking about what my plans were now, and told him I'm still trying to go to OU still," Rolan said.
"He just told me to keep working hard at it, says that if I keep working at it, and keep doing what I'm doing I can be up there one day."
While Wort is quite familiar with his role in the defense Rolan says that during his time watching the Sooners workout it was some players finding their role that stood out to him.
"Tony Jefferson is looking pretty good, also, Jaydan Bird looked pretty good. He was getting a lot of reps yesterday. Also it seemed like Blake Bell got a lot of reps yesterday too," he said.
One aspect that has been talked about plenty through the first week-plus of Sooner spring practices has been the different volume employed by Oklahoma's former linebacker leader and it's current one. Rolan watched as Kish worked with his new pupils and says that even though the environment has changed a bit he simply feels at home in Norman.
"It was good, the guys, they seem like they like coach Kish. They were working well together. I just like being there, I just feel like that's where I'm supposed to be, you know, it's just Oklahoma," he said.
Rolan knows that while he has grown up on Oklahoma football he'll have to look around and see what other schools are interested. So far he is receiving mail from around the Big 12 but says that Iowa State and Texas Tech, along with SEC powerhouse Alabama, have been contacting him the most.
In fact, he'll be in Lubbock this weeken.
"I'm trying to schedule some places to visit. If I can stay in-state I'm going to try and do that, but I'm not going to rule any school out," Rolan said. "I'm going to go to Texas Tech for their spring scrimmage (on Saturday), but other than that I really don't know. I'm going to go to Tulsa some time too.
"I'm going to go with Devanta Johnson to Lubbock this weekend and then over to Dallas for the NIKE camp on Sunday."
During his trip to Norman aside from the previously mentioned Ponds, Rolan says he was joined on campus by Sooner legacy Trevan Smith as well as five-star quarterback Max Browne.
It was a trip that Rolan was not expecting to be able to make but due to a change in plans in relation to his state power-lifting competition it became possible for the state's No. 8 overall player to attend.
For those unfamiliar powerlifting has become a popular trend in the state in recent years.
"We're a football team that works out and (McAlester head) coach Bryan Pratt wants us to do have something to do other than just workout, so he takes us to the powerlifting meets," he said.
"For me there is a 220-pound weight class and a 242-weight class and I'm 230. It'd be nice to go down to 220 but coach just said to keep working out. I'm just working out with guys that are 6-foot-3 and 240-pounds and they'll say alright, who ever squats the most, benches the most, and deadlifts will win.
"I squatted 510 and benched 325. Actually I'm wanting to play at about 225-pounds this season."