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Marvin Mims 'always wanted to stay' with OU football after coaching staff change

Ryan Aber
Oklahoman

NORMAN — OU wide receiver Marvin Mims considered a change after coach Lincoln Riley’s departure to USC in late November.

“That’s kind of a hard topic to talk about,” Mims said Wednesday. “It was up in the air, but I always wanted to stay. There was never a point where I was like, ‘I’m leaving, and I’m going here,’ or, ‘I’m leaving, and I’m going here.’ I had some people not reach out to me, but third parties talk to me and stuff like that and that was pretty much it.”

Though Mims was tied for third on the team in catches last season with 32, his 705 yards were more than 300 more than any other Sooners player.

Mims is the only one returning who had more than 230 receiving yards last season.

The biggest adjustment has been the tempo of new offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby’s system.

“We get lined up as fast as we can,” Mims said. "Basically, that’s the whole thing Coach Lebby’s pointing out. We watch a lot of Ole Miss clips, watch a lot of UCF clips and just see how fast those guys played and stuff like that. …

"Sometimes we have to kind of slow down just because there’s teaching moments and stuff between whistles … but when we go live in scrimmages and stuff, we’re able to really see how fast the offense goes and how fast we can kind of manipulate the defense by them not being able to get a call in or something like that.”

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OU's Marvin Mims celebrates after catching a touchdown pass against Texas Tech on Oct. 30 in Norman.

Daniel Parker embracing new surroundings

Daniel Parker decided he wanted a change after spending four years at Missouri.

“I just felt like I needed to improve my game,” the tight end said. “I felt like just being there was just helping me maintain, and it’s not a knock on those guys. I love those guys over there, the program, Coach (Eli) Drinkwitz is a great coach, love those guys, but personally, I felt like for me to improve my game I needed to be somewhere else.”

One of his first calls was to Sooners’ tight ends coach Joe Jon Finley.

Finley was the Tigers’ tight ends coach during Parker’s freshman year.

Finley had to be patient, as OU was undergoing plenty of transition with Austin Stogner transferring to South Carolina and Jeremiah Hall’s departure to the NFL, so Finley told Parker he would get back in touch.

When Finley called back letting Parker know there was a spot, Parker jumped at the chance.

Finley wasn’t involved in Parker’s recruitment out of high school, as Parker was originally signed as a defensive end, but they quickly developed a bond.

“We had that connection,” Parker said. “He knows what I’m about. I know what he’s about. It was just good to get back with him.”

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Eric Gray (0) during the University of Oklahoma's Spring football practice in Norman, Okla. on Thursday, March 24, 2022.

Eric Gray adjusts — again

Sooners running back Eric Gray is on his third offense in as many years, after starting off with Tennessee before moving to OU where he spent last season in Riley’s offense, and now transitioning to Lebby’s.

“I’m a fast learner,” Gray said. “I’ve been blessed with an unbelievable mind to be smart. This offense wasn’t that hard for me to learn. It’s just studying. That’s what all offenses are.”

Gray had 78 carries for 412 yards and two touchdowns, and added 23 catches for 229 yards and two more scores.

He’s hoping for more production this season, and OU figures to need it with Kennedy Brooks’ departure.

“You need a back that’s going to be able to break those long runs and take it to the house and get your linemen off the field,” Gray said. “With the tempo we’re playing with, those linemen, they’ll want to get off the field. So if you can break it, you make everyone happy.”

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