OU’s new facilities offer space, tech

Ryan Aber | The Oklahoman

NORMAN (TNS) — Before Oklahoma’s season football opener Sept. 2 against UTEP, Sooner players will be stretched out in a new expansive locker room.

Quarterback Baker Mayfield will sit next to safety Chanse Sylvie in his locker stall on a padded chair built into their lockers. Above Mayfield’s head will be a backlit picture of him, holding his hands on the collar of his white Sooners jersey with his name and number.

Mayfield and his teammates will walk out of the locker room into a wide, well-lit hallway with the familiar white and red “Play Like a Champion Today” sign hanging above the door for the players to hit as they make their way out onto the field.

It’s a far cry from what the Sooners have dealt with the last two seasons when they crammed into temporary trailers across Jenkins Avenue, squeezing into tight aisles to jockey for space in cramped quarters.

Sunday, The Oklahoman and other media outlets were given an extensive tour of the new south end zone facility — the Barry Switzer Center — even as crews worked to complete some unfinished areas in the new state-of-the-art strength and conditioning center.

Even though 12,000-square feet of space dwarfs the old locker room, it’s l designed to encourage players to get to know guys they otherwise wouldn’t.

Instead of being bunched by position groups, the players are randomly set around the room.

On the row with Mayfield are wide receiver Jeffery Mead, defensive lineman Matt Romar and walk-ons Joe Castiglione Jr. and Ian McIver.

First and foremost, the space in functional.

There’s a 30,000-square-foot weight room and indoor turf area that can be utilized by all sports, not just football.

Sunday, Jamie Neaves of Zybek Sports was working to get the electronics for a long force plate working. The plate, among other things, will eliminate the need to hand-time 40-yard dashes and other conditioning measures.

The Sooners are the first university in the country to use the technology.

Not only will the player’s overall time be measured but the plate can measure each step’s vertical and horizontal force so athletes can maximize their performance.

There are similar systems to measure vertical jump as well as height and wingspan.

First-year head coach Lincoln Riley said recently that the Sooners’ preseason camp has flowed more smoothly thanks to the new facility.