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OU football: Justin Broiles focused on the ‘steak and potatoes’ ahead of redshirt senior season

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Justin Broiles

Then-sophomore safety Justin Broiles arrives at the Walk of Champions before the game against TCU Nov. 23.

Amid other options on the menu, Justin Broiles is most interested in the steak and potatoes.

At least, that’s how he metaphorically explained his decision to increase his focus on football over other opportunities. He started out his near-25 minute Monday press conference answering questions by giving glory to God. Based on his recent Twitter activity, he's been thinking heavily about his faith and his allegorical dinner selection.

During the summer, the former top prospect in Oklahoma, per ESPN, became a major change agent in the community, speaking at multiple social justice rallies coinciding with the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others by police. Yet, Broiles admitted Monday he’s taken a step back from his social justice work to hone in on spring ball. He’s hoping a strong season on the field might further elevate his platform for change in the future.

“Once I feel like spring ball is over, then I'll be able to dive my head back into some more of that and read back into some more of those things,” Broiles said. “But as of right now, my head is just kind of head down football all the way.”

After recording just six tackles in six games before an undisclosed injury cost him Oklahoma’s final five contests in 2020, Broiles is looking to take advantage of his redshirt senior year. He said he’s more locked in than in years past, and his mentality has changed as he prepares for the 2021 season in spring ball.

“I understand that I need to have all my energy and all my focus here right now, because this is the steak and potatoes of the dinner serving,” Broiles said. “Understanding that football is ultimately what I came here to do. (I’m) not saying that I can't participate in any of those things, but I understand that in order for me to reach my best here (and) in order for me to continue to have a great platform I have to have to continue to improve daily.”

Previously, Broiles has shined for Oklahoma in the moments it needed him most. In the 2019 Peach Bowl, he started in place of strong safety Dellarin Turner-Yell, who was out with a broken collarbone. Though the Sooners fell to eventual champion LSU, 63-28, Broiles made 11 total tackles. That was a career high for him and a team high for the game.

Though not stretched as thin currently as it was in late 2019, OU’s secondary could benefit from Broiles reemergence in 2021. The Sooners are replacing multi-positional talent Tre Norwood and cornerback Tre Brown, who declared for the NFL draft. Oklahoma also lost nickelback Brendan “Bookie” Radley-Hiles, who transferred to Washington in March.

Broiles is presently training at free safety, while the 2020 starter at the position, team captain Pat Fields, is missing spring ball after an undisclosed minor procedure. During OU’s 2019 spring game, Broiles picked off quarterback Tanner Mordecai and used the moment to honor his late friend Cleato Davis on his birthday. Based on reports out of camp this season, he looks poised to make similar noise when the Sooners face off in their 2021 spring game on April 24.

“I think (this spring is) the best that he’s consistently performed since he's been here, and he's been here a while,” head coach Lincoln Riley said on April 15. “And I think he's in a great spot and doing some really nice things.”

However, Broiles, who has previously trained with NFL veterans Jamal Adams, Jalen Mills and Byron Jones, has learned from some legitimate secondary talents in his career. Because of his training with the best, he said he’s holding himself to something higher than his coaches' praise ahead of the 2021 season.

“To the coaches it may be a lot easier (to say), ‘He’s playing great, he's playing good,’” Broiles said. “But to my standard … I want a Hall of Fame standard so I can measure myself up to the best. ... I’ve still got a long ways to go. I still could take my game to a completely other level right now. Right now I just got me focused at free safety, and that's where all my energy and my attention is.”

Sports Editor

Mason Young is a journalism sophomore and the Daily's sports editor who covers OU football. He was previously assistant sports editor and has worked as a reporter covering OU women's gym, OU wrestling and former Sooners in the NFL.

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