There have been more than enough hardships for Jalen Redmond since arriving at Oklahoma, that part of his story has been written.
In 2021 and beyond, Redmond is hoping to turn the page and write the next chapter of his OU career and his life playing football.
Redmond was an under the radar type of find as a junior at Midwest City (Okla.) High before exploding a national recruit as a senior. The Sooners knew they were getting a good one for the 2018 class, but so far, his bio reads more of a what could have been tale instead of what he’s been able to do.
Blood clots as a freshman, a shoulder injury as a redshirt freshman, and then COVID-19 struck. If there was one player everybody could see opting out because of the coronavirus, it was Redmond because of the blood clot concerns.
Redmond had COVID last summer and because of his medical history and all the uncertainty that went with COVID-19 at the time, stepped aside last season. Make no mistake, though, it wasn’t easy.
“With my past history with blood clots and those things, me and my family just thought it was the best idea to sit that one out,” Redmond said. “It was, shoot, one of the hardest decisions I had to make, especially coming off the year before.
“It was a hard decision but I knew I had to do what was right for my health and my body. Watching the games, it was hard. I wanted to be out there with those guys and I’m back so I’m happy to be back now.”
Redmond led the team in sacks in 2019 and was third in tackles for loss even as he was trying to accept a position change to the inside.
Even if Redmond wanted to escape the game, there’s no way he could with his roommate and friend, Isaiah Thomas, having the type of breakout year he had in 2020.
The two were close before, but grew an even greater bond throughout the course of the last year. Instead of Redmond wishing he could be by Thomas’ side on the field, they can actually make that occur this season.
“I’m extremely excited to have him back. It was a roller coaster for him, emotionally, I would say, because with him opting out, it was hard on him because he wanted to be out there with us,” Thomas said. “He knows for himself, what’s best for himself, and best for this team to have him 100 percent both physically and mentally. The strides he has made since he’s been back has been great to see.”
Redmond made his intentions known early that he intended to return. He was back at OU practicing, getting the team ready for the Cotton Bowl victory vs. Florida. He didn’t play, but it was a little nod to the rest of the guys that it wouldn’t be long before he was back.
There’s no questioning the hunger, according to his teammates. There’s no questioning his determination or desire.
The difference is noticeable from where Redmond was at during the 2020 season to where he is during the last month of spring practices.
“I would just walk by him and say, ‘Hey, you doing all right?’ and just smile,” said defensive assistant Jamar Cain about last year. “I’m like, ‘Don’t let nobody take that smile away from you.’ He was in a good, good place and now to see him out there in practice and see the energy that he brings and smiles are infectious. He’s just got this biggest grin on his face and he seems happy, he seems like he’s at peace now.”