Courtesy photo: Ricky Wren Ricky Wren, right, played four seasons at Oklahoma.
Ricky Wren’s football career was almost over before he reached high school — he hated two-a-days so much he wanted to quit, but his mother wouldn’t let him. He went on to star at Clovis High and played four seasons at nose guard and defensive tackle for the Oklahoma Sooners.
Wren, 39, now lives in Dallas, where he works in the medical supply field. He’s the father of three boys.
What was it like to come from a small town environment and being exposed to a world that most of us could only dream of? : It was indescribable going from Clovis to Oklahoma. When you are on national TV with millions watching, it’s really an unbelievable experience that I will never, ever forget.
What do you think of a Clovis Wildcat — Hank Baskett — playing in the NFL?: I think having someone from Clovis play in the NFL is awesome. I would really like to meet him one day.
Who had the biggest impact on you while playing football? : My mom. When I was at Marshall in ninth grade, I was going to quit football. I hated two-a-days. But my mom said we don’t quit anything. She said after the season if you feel the same, then OK. But you started this season and you will finish it. That gave me a lot of inner strength.
What’s the best lesson you learned playing football at Clovis?: That we and I take second place to no one. If you played the Clovis Wildcats, you were in for a fight until the end.
The saying goes there’s nothing tougher than a Clovis Wildcat … who was the toughest Wildcat (besides you) in your playing days?: OK, I think there were quite a few. Steve Giblet or Frank Morlock. Maybe Will Hall. Honestly, I think everyone on our team was just as tough as me. I can’t pick one. Sorry, but we were a group.
What particularly stood out about Clovis coach Eric Roanhaus? : What I remember is it was his way or no way. I learned a lot from coach. A lot of good memories.
What is something people might be surprised to know about Coach Roanhaus? : What some people may not know is he will get every bit of athletic ability out of you while keeping everything light and funny. Don’t get me wrong. He was hard on us at times, but he just wanted to get you to use the most of your abilities.
Most talented player you played against in high school. What made him so special?: I think the most memorable player was Mickey Reeves out of Roswell. Because he was just so fast running. At that time, I had never seen anyone that fast. Also because they beat us in the state championship. Still have a bad taste in my mouth from that one.
Most memorable high school football experience?: In the state championship game, a Roswell receiver caught a ball and cut back inside where I was coming and I hit him hard with my helmet. His was turned the other direction. I believe he wrote a poem called “The Hit” that was in their yearbook.
How did you end up at Oklahoma playing football?: I saw Oklahoma in the 1985 national championship game on TV, and ever since then I knew that’s where I wanted to go. From there God took over.
What was it like to be a high school senior being recruited by Barry Switzer?: Being recruited by Switzer was incredible.
What particularly stood out about Coach Switzer? : He was very laid back, very cool. Here is an example. I went to Norman on my recruiting trip. I went to his office where he had all of his championship rings in a case. I was just standing there in awe. He asked if I liked them. I said, yes sir. He said, ‘Ricky, if you come here you can win one of these.’ I stood there smiling. Then he said, ‘If you don’t come here, we will still win one of these. You can choose to be part of it or not, your choice.’ My decision was made.
How did you feel about not getting to play for Switzer because he resigned before your first season at OU? : I really went to OU to play for Coach Switzer. I didn’t like it when he left, but playing for the University of Oklahoma still pulled me into the tradition, the players I followed behind still pulled me in. Also Coach Switzer is still a huge part of the Sooner program, so it was like he never left.
Michael Thompson also played for OU while you were there. What was that like have two players from Clovis on such a prominent college program? : It was sweet to know they were recruiting Michael Thompson. I asked if I could take him around on his recruiting visit. I think I had a big influence on him coming to OU. It showed the strength of the Clovis program to have two players from one high school on a very strong program such as OU’s.
What is one particular thing that stood out about your college experience?: The thing that stood out the most was the first time running out for an OU-Texas game. Seeing half the stadium filled with half crimson and half burnt orange. It was absolutely amazing.
Biggest name player you ever sacked or tackled while at Oklahoma? : Kordell Stewart. He was so fast. And playing in Colorado was hard because the air up there was so thin it was hard to catch your breath. So when I finally tackled him, I was like, thank God.
Biggest perk being an Oklahoma Sooner?: Always being able to say I played football for the University of Oklahoma. I’m not from Oklahoma, but there is a saying at OU that holds true to me. “I’m Sooner born and Sooner bred and when I die I’ll be Sooner dead.”
Most memorable stadium you played in while at Oklahoma?: The stadium I remember most was Nebraska 1992. It was the coldest game I had ever played in. I am a very competitive person. I didn’t care if we won or lost that game. I just wanted to go inside. We lost. But I didn’t care, I was freezing.
Who was your favorite player while you were growing up?: Brian Bosworth. I loved the way he played.
Biggest difference between high school and college football outside of size and speed?: I know you asked beside size and speed, but I’m sorry. The biggest difference is the speed. You would have 260-pound linebackers running 4.5 40-yard dashes. The speed is incredible.
Did you get a chance to play football beyond college? : I had the opportunity to play in Canada, but decided to find a career.
— Compiled by CNJ sports editor Rick White