By Mark Schremmer
Globe Sports Writer
PITTSBURG, Kan. —
Playing football at Labette County High School and Fort Scott Community College, Brannon Green wasn’t used to extremely large crowds.
So when the tight end suited up for the Oklahoma Sooners’ first game of the 2012 season at UTEP, Green was wowed by the number of fans at Sun Bowl Stadium in El Paso, Texas.
“I was like, ‘I can’t believe all these people,’ ” Green said. “Then my teammates said, ‘wait until our home game next week. That will be a crowd.’”
Green played 11 games for the Sooners in 2012, helping them to a 10-3 record, a share of the Big 12 championship and a trip to the Cotton Bowl in Arlington, Texas.
The No. 1 tight end on OU’s depth chart is spending the next couple of weeks with family in Altamont, Kan., and is training at Pittsburg’s Mac Fitness, which is owned and operated by former Pittsburg State All-American defensive tackle Aaron McConnell.
“I started working out here when I was in Fort Scott, and we’ve been friends ever since,” Green said. “He’s been a really big help, not only with working out but with giving me some advice on how to handle things. He’s been through it, and he’s been there. I wish I had this when I was in high school. The kids here are really lucky to have this.”
The Labette County graduate played in the 2010 Kansas Shrine Bowl and was an all-conference performer at Fort Scott Community College.
Green (6-foot-3, 260 pounds) recently wrapped up spring ball at OU and got acquainted with new tight ends coach Jay Boulware. The tight end position is likely to be featured more by the Sooners offense in 2013 after running a lot of four-receiver sets this past fall.
“Spring ball went well,” Green said. “We had a new coach come in for the tight ends. I’ve really gotten to know him, and he’s been great. He’s taught me a lot of new stuff. I just have to continue to work every day and get better.”
Green has excelled as a blocking tight end, but he hopes to display his ability as a receiver. He caught three balls for 45 yards and a touchdown as a junior.
“One thing that we’ve really stressed is working on my routes,” Green said. “Coach Boulware and I sat down before I left, and we talked about running them hard and crisp. I just want to show that I have the hands as well and can be an ultimate tight end.”
Oklahoma’s receivers will have a new quarterback throwing them passes this season as four-year starter Landry Jones was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers. The front-runner at quarterback is 6-6, 263-pound Blake Bell, who was primarily featured in the “Belldozer” goal-line package the past two seasons.
Green said fans will get to see Bell’s passing ability this season.
“Blake’s one of those guys who’s going to succeed no matter what he does,” Green said. “He’s always been like that. I think he’s just looking to step in and help the team as much as he can.
“He’s a very big guy, and he’ll run you over if you’re not looking. He can throw the ball just as well as he can run, and he’ll be able to showcase that.”
Oklahoma opens the season Aug. 31 at home against Louisiana-Monroe.
“Expectations are always high,” Green said. “That’s what you work for every year in the offseason. That’s why I’m here training.”