By John Shinn
NORMAN — New Oklahoma assistant coaches Jerry Montgomery and Jay Boulware share one common trait: both are living out of suitcases as the Sooners’ first spring practice nears. Settling in hasn’t been an option for either.
“That’s OK. You make it work,” said Montgomery, 33, who was recently hired away from Michigan. “This is a third transition for me where I’m kind of in a hotel right now. It will all work out. Hopefully, I’ll get my family in sooner before later. I’m excited about that. My wife’s here today.”
Boulware is more seasoned in the transition phase that comes with coaching. The 40-year-old’s decision to come to OU makes it seven stops since 1997.
“Coaches are used to that,” said Boulware, who was hired away from Wisconsin. “It’s been outstanding, getting back here, being in this town and being around these people and the fans. It’s been awesome. I’ve really enjoyed myself these 48 hours.”
The Sooners start spring practice Saturday, and it will be the first time Montgomery, Boulware or new offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh actually get on the field with the players.
In Montgomery’s case that means rebuilding a defensive line with only three tackles on scholarship, and a collective group in need of a major overhaul after last season.
He’s had meetings with all his current defensive linemen in the last week as well as watched them in workouts.
“I think they all have upside. We’ve just got to keep working. They’re young,” Montgomery said. “I believe in technique and fundamentals, and that’s what I’m going to bring to the table. We’re gonna coach them up. I’ve only been around them for one or two workout sessions. I got to see them move around a little bit but haven’t seen them do much football. I’ve seen a little film on them. I’m excited to work with each and every one of them.”
For Boulware, the circumstances are different. His biggest goal is to make the tight end position a viable part of the Sooners’ offense. By October last year, the position was rarely used.
“OU’s had a number of great players at the tight end position over the course of the years, and I think OU fans and the communities around here should expect to see that here again in the near future,” he said.
The Sooners currently have three tight ends on scholarship. Much like the defensive line spots, the positions needs to be rebuilt through recruiting.
Both coaches have built strong reputations as recruiters throughout their careers. Both believe selling OU on the recruiting trail won’t be difficult.
“You walk in with this OU on your chest, and you’re immediately in everybody’s top two or three. It means something. It makes a difference,” Boulware said. “We’re big brother now. I’ve been at places where you’re little brother, as some people say, or you’re equal or whatever, how some people look at it, but this is my first time at a place where you’re definitely the big dog on the street and everybody knows it.”
“It’s about building relationships. I don’t care where you are. If you’re at Texas or Florida or Michigan or wherever, if you have good relationships and people know that you’re going to take care of their kids when they get on campus, you’re going to have people willing to help you out with kids,” Montgomery said. “It’s about building relationships in this area, in Texas and in Oklahoma and the surrounding states.”