Oklahoma football: Parnell Motley brings bravado to Sooners’ defense

NORMAN, Okla. — When coaches look for cornerbacks, the checklist is long. Speed, agility, flexibility, length and intelligence are important.

Also on that list is confidence.

When a player has it, the other traits measure higher. The 40-yard-dash time seems faster than the stopwatch reads. Arms look longer than the tape measure indicates. Reactions seem quicker than what the video shows.

Oklahoma sophomore cornerback Parnell Motley checks many of the boxes, but the one for confidence gets more than a simple swipe.

“He’s the difference,” Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said.

What makes Motley different is you could put him on the field with 21 All-Americans and Motley, who will make his fifth career start when the third-ranked Sooners (4-0, 1-0 Big 12) face Iowa State at noon ET on Saturday at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, believes he’s the best player.

Beat him once, and he dares you to do it again. Listen long enough, and he may talk you out of it.

“P-Mot is one of those guys that will let you know he’s right there and he’s not going to go anywhere,” senior cornerback Jordan Thomas said.

Motley laughed when he heard that.

“I’m definitely mean. You’re not going to get any nice from me. You’re going to hear it all from me,” Motley said.

Parnell Motley has grown since his freshman season

The cornerback spot opposite Thomas was one of the most discussed heading into the season. It was a revolving door in 2016. Four different players started at the spot. Jordan Parker claimed the job midway through the year.

Two were freshmen — Parker and Parrish Cobb. Motley didn’t figure into the equation. He was getting used to a strength and nutrition program. Motley needed time to physically mature.

“I actually had a little fat on me, so I really slimmed down the fat,” Motley said. “So I’ve really got a majority of muscle now. And because I just got a little stronger.”

There was a noticeable difference when the Sooners reconvened after the 2016 season. Motley’s strength allowed him to win those hand-to-hand battles with receivers he routinely lost months earlier.

By the end of it, the Sooners knew Motley made a serious push to be a starter.

“He had a great summer, great winter, and everybody’s seen it, and he’s brought it to the light,” safety Steven Parker said.

Bravado imported from Washington D.C.

Sophomore running back Abdul Adams first met Motley when they were middle school teammates in the Washington, D.C. area before becoming high school rivals.

“We were both were like two-sport guys, playing basketball and football. So we always competed against each other,” said Adams, who is Motley’s roommate and helped recruit him to Oklahoma.

Adams has a quiet demeanor, which is the polar opposite of Motley. Even as a youngster, Motley was brash when it came to sports.

Oklahoma gets its brazen attitude from quarterback Baker Mayfield. He’s fearless and the Sooners will follow him anywhere.

Motley’s bravado is similar. If the receiver he lines up against isn’t interested in hearing him, he better have earplugs or hope the crowd is raucous.

“P-Mot is one of those guys that will let you know he’s right there and he’s not going to go anywhere,” Thomas said.

Parnell Motley’s play levels the field

Opponents haven’t gotten much against him. Motley leads the Sooners with 2 interceptions. The first set up the victory-sealing touchdown in the Sooners’ victory at Ohio State. A week later, Motley added a 71-yard interception return for a touchdown against Tulane. The pick-6 ignited a 56-14 rout.

In the first three games, Motley was the cornerback opposing offenses targeted. Thomas, who is bidding to be a three-time All-Big 12 cornerback this season, covers the other side.

In Oklahoma’s last game, Baylor was the first to steer clear of Motley. Maybe it was the form tackle that resulted in a 1-yard loss on screen pass midway through the first quarter that solidified the Bears’ thinking.

The Sooners’ defining defensive play that night was defensive end Ogbonnia Okoronkwo’s sack and forced fumble that finally ended the Bears’ upset bid. It was a third-and-long situation because Motley poked the second-down pass away from Baylor receiver Denzel Mims a play earlier.

“The guy is just a playmaker,” Okoronkwo said.

The post Oklahoma football: Parnell Motley brings bravado to Sooners’ defense appeared first on Diehards.

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