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Q&A With Tre Norwood: Oklahoma Career, NFL Draft Preparation, Playing For Lincoln Riley, Sooners' Defensive Improvements

Tre Norwood celebrates the Cotton Bowl win.

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - DECEMBER 30: Defensive back Tre Norwood #13 of the Oklahoma Sooners celebrates winning The McKnight Trophy for defensive MVP after the Sooners beat the Florida Gators 55-20 at AT&T Stadium on December 30, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

Tre Norwood began his career at Oklahoma as a cornerback, but over the past few years he's developed into a hybrid defensive back. In fact, his ability to line up anywhere in the secondary makes him an intriguing prospect in this year's NFL Draft.

There were plenty of question marks surrounding Norwood heading into last fall because he missed the 2019 season due to an injury. However, he quickly erased those doubts and proved that he can still play football at a high level.

In his final season with the Sooners, Norwood had 23 total tackles and five interceptions. During his time at safety, he showed that he has good play recognition and decent ball skills.

Norwood then impressed NFL personnel at his pro day, running the 40-yard dash in 4.58 seconds and posting a 33.5-inch vertical. Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley certainly liked what he saw, telling reporters "Tre’s one of those guys that’s just pretty good at everything. He’s gonna be very intriguing to a lot of different teams."

With the NFL Draft just a week away, we sat down with Tre Norwood to discuss his career at Oklahoma, what it's been like preparing for the NFL, who's the best wide receiver he's ever faced and much more.

The Spun: The NFL Draft process is thought of as a once-in-a-lifetime experience. With that being said, how has it been treating you?

Tre Norwood: I’m going to start my sentence with how you finished up. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me, so I look at it as a blessing. A lot of people want to go through this process, but they aren’t fortunate enough to get the opportunity. I’m blessed that I got the opportunity. It’s been a fun process and I’m enjoying the whole ride. You only get one shot at this, so I’m soaking it all in.

The Spun: How do you believe you performed at your pro day?

TN: I think I performed very well. On top of that, being able to be back with my brothers and be back in our house was awesome. At the end of the day, we were just playing ball and doing what we love to do.

The Spun: What's your favorite moment from your Oklahoma career?

TN: That is tough. I would say the Big 12 Championship against Texas during my sophomore year. First off because it is Texas, and second, it’s not so often that you see a rivalry game happen twice in the same season. They beat us in the regular season, but we were able to come back and beat them for ultimately a ring. And to close that game out with an interception, I’d say that was my favorite game at OU.

The Spun: So I’m assuming Texas was your favorite rival?

TN: Most definitely.

The Spun: Oklahoma’s defense has really improved over the past two years. What was it like to see that unit improve, and what was it like playing for Lincoln Riley?

TN: I’ll start with playing for Coach Riley. I was fortunate to be under him for all four years. I was recruited under Coach Stoops, but during the summer of my first year he decided to retire. I’ve loved Coach Riley since his first day when he took the job. He is a players’ coach, andI feel like as a player, you have to love that. His door is always open and you can go in there and talk to him about anything.

As for the defense, I didn’t get to play for Coach Grinch the first year because of my injury. The first day of spring when he came in though, he had a whole new mindset that made us do a 360 as a unit. This past season, I feel like you saw guys buying in and gradually getting better. I think it showed out there on the field. We attacked every rep and were flying to the ball. For me, it was something that I loved. I had two perspectives from Coach Stoops and Coach Grinch. I’m glad I was a part of this past season. Oklahoma’s defense is starting to get more love, and I know for a fact it’s only going to get better.

The Spun: Who was the best player you faced either on Saturdays or during practice?

TN: It’s definitely CeeDee Lamb. I tell people all the time that it’s beneficial to go against guys like CeeDee, Marquise Brown and those type of wide receivers every day in practice. You see what they’re doing in the league already. Competing with those guys helped us out on Saturdays. I always felt like we had the best receivers. But going back to your question, I’d definitely have to say CeeDee.

The Spun: Which defensive backs do you like to study on film?

TN: My number one guy since I fell in love with the position is Patrick Peterson. I love watching him, Darius Slay, Tyrann Mathieu and Kenny Moore. Mathieu and Moore are guys who can do it all, which is something I pride myself on doing. I can name a long list, but those are the guys I really like to study on film. Every player is different, so I don’t model my game after anyone in particular. But I do love to take bits and pieces from the greats and implement them into my game.

The Spun: What would you say is your best quality right now?

TN: I would say it’s a bundle of things. The first thing is my IQ. The knowledge and feel I have for the game allows me to make plays. And then, that goes to my versatility and playmaking abilities. I’m always looking to make a play and attack the ball when it’s in the air. Those are my best qualities.

The Spun: What’s something you’re working on?

TN: Getting out of that mindset that every play is a big one. It can help you, but at times it can hurt because not every play is going to be big. Just focus on those routine plays and be more consistent in the run game, knowing those tackles for no gain are just as big as the PBUs.

The Spun: What is an NFL team getting in Tre Norwood?

TN: Off the field, you’re going to get a respectful and honest guy. I’m someone who is never going to jeopardize the team or organization because what I do is a reflection of them. On the field, you’re going to get a hard-working guy who is eager to make plays and help the team win. You’re getting an overall great guy. I know it sounds cliché to say that, but that’s what you’re getting. I’m responsible and respectful, and when I’m on that field, I want to dominate each and every snap.

Norwood is currently projected to be a Day 3 selection in this year's draft.

You can read more of our interviews with athletes or media stars here.