Sooner safety feels right at home in Miami

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MIAMI, Fla. – It’s no surprise that many of the players on OU’s team are not from the Sooner State.

However, many become accustomed to the  Oklahoma way of life.

Now, the snow and sleet that hung on trees and power lines in Oklahoma has been replaced by the stifling humidity that is common in Florida.

For two Sooners, this is a typical holiday at home.

Throughout the season, senior linebacker Eric Striker has been disruptive and devastating to offenses.

Striker grew up in Sefner, Florida, which is about a four hour drive from Miami.

Last year, family and friends traveled an hour to see him play in the Russell Athletic Bowl.

Now, the same matchup with be played on a much larger stage for a chance at a championship.

Junior safety Ahmad Thomas grew up in the heart of Miami and has returned to compete in a playoff game in front of a home crowd.

“Like, me being from Miami, that’s a dream because, you know, everybody from Miami wants to play in the Orange Bowl game. I just want to make the best of it and come out with a win,” Thomas said.

Thomas says that his hometown inspired him to make a better life for himself.

“I had to be wise because, you know, Miami, there’s a lot of things you can get into, a lot of wrong decisions  you can make. I’m not saying I made all the right decisions because I didn’t, but I made good decisions more than I made bad decisions,” Thomas said. “I listened to people. People thought I wasn’t listening to them, but I was. But when you’re young, you want to do what you want to do, and I did what I had to do to get out of here because if I didn’t really want to play football, I could have been in the streets.”

“I started listening to my mama. I started listening to my coaches. I started listening to everybody that wanted the best for me…and it turned out to be good.,” he said.

Thomas said he knew that Miami could be a rough town and wanted a better and safer life.

“I could have been in the wrong place at the wrong time. I couldn’t have been doing that in the streets or none of that. I could have been in that wrong place at the wrong time and gotten killed, so that’s why I’m glad that I left,” he said.

After it was announced that OU would be playing in the Orange Bowl, Thomas says his phone lit up with requests for tickets.

He says he was able to get 16 tickets and has more coming, but he needed at least 40 for family members and friends.

“I just show love to people that need it,” Thomas said.