MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

OU

December 5, 2013

Shouldering a burden: CB Colvin playing hurt for Sooners

NORMAN  — The pain comes and goes for Aaron Colvin.

The Oklahoma cornerback’s injured shoulder might flare up while sitting in class, walking to a team meeting or hanging out with the guys. It hurts worse when it’s cold and it’s going to be frigid Saturday when No. 18 Oklahoma (9-2, 6-2 Big 12 Conference) plays at No. 6 Oklahoma State (10-1, 7-1).

But Colvin doesn’t regret — not for a second — his decision to bypass the NFL draft and return for his senior season with the Sooners. Games like the Bedlam showdown are what he came back to Oklahoma for and he plans on toughing it out until the football season ends.

“I came back to win games,” Colvin said. “I came back to try to help this team win as many games as I could. I’m a competitor at the end of the day. I can’t sit on the sideline and just watch something. If I don’t give it my all, then I’m going to have regrets and that’s one of my biggest things. I don’t want to have any regrets when I leave this university.

“It’s a tough situation that I’m in. But at the end of the day, I’ve just got to leave it in God’s hands and try to grind through it.”

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops calls Colvin “truly one of the best defensive backs we’ve ever had here.”

Colvin was projected as a potential early round NFL draft choice after his junior season, in which he had four interceptions and 11 pass breakups and was a first-team All-Big 12 selection. Instead, Colvin opted to complete what he called “unfinished business” at Oklahoma.

He has played nine games this year, starting eight, and has 47 tackles (five for loss), an interception, a fumble recovery and three pass breakups. His toughness might be his most valuable contribution to the Sooners.

He injured his shoulder in a loss at Baylor on Nov. 7 and missed Oklahoma’s win over Iowa State the following Saturday. On Nov. 23, on a cold day at Kansas State, the plan was for Colvin to see limited action but, after K-State receiver Tyler Lockett burned the Sooners for three long touchdown catches in the first half, that plan was chucked.

Instead, despite being “in a ton of pain,” Colvin matched up on Lockett for most of the second half and held him off the scoreboard, a key factor in allowing the Sooners to win 41-31.

“It’s been an uncomfortable season with his shoulder and he’s really toughed it out and it shows you a lot about his character and his toughness,” Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. “It’ll be the same deal (against Oklahoma State). He’s a fighter and I’m sure he’ll want to play a great game.”

The respect Colvin’s teammates had for him — which already was considerable — increased after his performance against Kansas State.

“That’s Slick’s character,” fellow defensive back Zack Sanchez said, referring to Colvin by his nickname. “That’s just the type of player he is. He wants to be in the game, regardless. If he has a broken leg, he’s going to try to be out there. It just speaks volumes to people that don’t know that part of Slick. He’s going to fight to the very end with whatever he’s got.”

Colvin said he does his best to block out the pain — “I’ve just got to go out there and play.” — but he also understands the reality of the situation. When he’s getting ready to make a tackle, he thinks about how he can protect his shoulder.

“As much as I would try to deny it and say that it doesn’t (bother me), it does,” he said.

He has had some people close to him suggest that he shouldn’t play with the injury.

“I’ve got a lot of voices in my ears and whatnot, but it’s ultimately my decision,” he said. “Any time somebody tries to give their opinion on something, I kind of ignore it. I know what’s best for me and I know what’s best for this team. At the end of the day, I’ve just got to do us right.”

Colvin said his injury will just need time to heal and that he doesn’t know yet if he might be at 100 percent for the Sooners’ bowl game. There’s also the prospect of next year’s NFL draft, during which he figures to be chosen at some point. It was suggested to him that his willingness to play through pain might be considered an asset by pro scouts.

“That’d be cool,” he said. “To be honest, though, I’m just trying to get these wins. I’m trying to finish out strong. I don’t want to finish out how we finished out last year (with a bowl loss to Texas A&M). Whatever it takes, that’s what I’m going to do.”

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