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When freshman defensive tackle Keondre Coburn signed with Texas in February 2018, he made a promise on social media that he and the other members of Texas’ 2018 class would “beat OU and the rest of them.” Former Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield didn’t appreciate Coburn’s guarantee.
“This is what we call being naïve,” Mayfield posted in a since-deleted response to Coburn on February 7, 2018 “Kid has no idea what it’s like stepping into the Cotton Bowl. So here’s how it works… The team north of the Red River doesn’t flinch. But it’s okay, you’ll see for yourself, wish you the best.”
Coburn didn’t play in the 2018 edition of the Red River Shootout, but after the Longhorns’ 48-45 victory, he let Mayfield know he remembered the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback’s words.
Now that Coburn is one of the co-starters at nose tackle, he’s ready to show on the field he can back up his signing day promise.
“I want to prove that I can actually play after all the comments they had on the picture about me not playing,” Coburn said Tuesday. “This is my year I feel like. I want to go out there and dominate.”
Coburn admitted he played the role of cheerleader on the Texas sideline during the 2018 Red River Shootout. A self-proclaimed morning person, Coburn said he was cheering his butt off “until I couldn’t cheer no more.”
Now, he’s relying on advice he picked up from last year’s team to prepare for his role as a significant contributor in Saturday’s rivalry game.
“You’ve just got to take every moment as serious as you can,” Coburn said. “It’s another football game, it’s just against a team where if you lose they’re going to get on you for the rest of the year. It’s the rivalry toward we have somebody. I just can’t wait to get on the field.”
He has the challenge of lining up across from Oklahoma center Creed Humphrey. Humphrey was the only member of the 2018 Oklahoma offensive line that didn’t enter the 2019 NFL Draft. He’s thought to be one of the top centers in the nation and a candidate for the 2020 NFL Draft.
Coburn doesn’t have the same draft hype nor the on field experience in Dallas that Humphrey has. Still, he’s ready to take on the challenge of facing the All-American candidate across from him.
“Just watching him on film, he’s a great player, a physical player,” Coburn said. “He’s smart, and I just can’t wait to go against him.”
The man Humphrey is blocking for, quarterback Jalen Hurts, will also be a significant challenge for Coburn and the rest of the Texas defense. Coburn, who has eight tackles and a sack this year, understands that Hurts is playing at a high level.
In order to stop a quarterback completing 75 percent of his passes, rushing for 8.8 yards per carry, and with a hand in 21 touchdowns through five games, they know they have to get him on the ground.
“Just like any other quarterback, just hit him,” Coburn said on how to contain Hurts. “You’ve got to keep hitting him until you can’t hit him no more. Play football against him pretty much.”
Whether it be motivation from his own promise, the response of a former OU quarterback to that promise, or the on-field play of the current Sooner quarterback, Coburn is ready to jump head first into the rivalry.
“I’m going to be happy to be in this game for the first time,” Coburn said. “It’s just another big game that the coaches preach to us is, like I said, another game, and I can’t wait to play.”