By Michael Kinney
Heading into 2018 there was no bigger name on the campus o Oklahoma than Bookie. The nickname given to Brendan Radley-Hiles, was on the lips of fans, media and coaches.
Despite just being a freshman, Radley-Hiles was expected to have a huge season and help transform the OU defense. That is a lot to put on the plate of a 5-9, 180 defensive back who had yet to play a game. But his coaching staff believed he could handle it.
However, that was not how the season went. Radley-Hiles was unable to find a consistent spot in the rotation and went several games where he was almost invisible or didn’t play. He called it a humbling experience.
Now, Radley-Hiles returns for his sophomore campaign not only with a new mindset, but a new defensive scheme he feels fits him perfectly as he looks to earn a starting spot at the nickel or safety.
“My goals are high,” Radley-Hiles said. “There are a lot of them I’m just going to keep to myself personally. I have them written down somewhere. But they are high. They are higher than what anybody else can put on me. From last year’s statistics to this year’s fall camp, my expectations for myself are very high.”
Radley-Hiles said he has improved in several areas. They include eye discipline, footwork and knowing and understanding concepts.
“Understanding where the ball is going to be is being at the right place at the right time,” Radley-Hiles said.
First-year defensive coordinator Alex Grinch has already seen improvement in Radley-Hiles since spring football.
“I commend Bookie up until this point,” Grinch said. “There are several guys who have taken leaps from the spring and he would probably be No. 1 on that list. He would echo that. He is just playing more consistently and playing with more technique and fundamentals. I commend him on that.”
Part of Radley-Hiles early-season positive outlook comes from being able to play in Grinch’s defense.
“It’s simple and fast. You have your certain rules. If you understand them you can play fast and downhill and just make sure your eyes are in the correct place and you’ll be fine,” Radley-Hiles said. “It fits me perfectly. Just knowing where I am supposed to be and knowing my assignment.”
Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider