NORMAN, Okla. (AP) -It wasn't long after Sam Bradford learned he'd be Oklahoma's starting quarterback that the excitement dwindled and he realized the decision also meant he had a job to do.
``I have an opportunity to go win football games here. That's my responsibility now,'' Bradford said Thursday night in his first public comments since being named the starter this week. ``I've just got to go out there and perform well now.''
Bradford had been dreaming of playing at Oklahoma since he was a youngster accompanying his father to the Sooners' annual Red-White game and getting to mingle with his dad's former teammates.
``I always thought it would be fun to be a part of that group in the locker room. That's kind of where it started, I guess,'' Bradford said.
The dreams remained as he went through high school and excelled in golf and basketball as well as football. He watched Oklahoma resume its place as a national powerhouse, with a line of quarterbacks achieving success.
Josh Heupel won a national title. Nate Hybl won a Rose Bowl. Jason White won a Heisman Trophy. Rhett Bomar became the school's best freshman passer ever. And Paul Thompson won the team's fourth Big 12 title in seven years.
``Those are some big shoes to fill. All I can do is go out there and play to the best of my ability,'' Bradford said. ``With the team that we have, I can just kind of get the ball to the playmakers and see what happens and just have fun out there.
``You can't really worry about stepping up and trying to be like those guys.''
Bradford, whose father, Kent, was an offensive lineman for the Sooners in the 1970s, said he got a boost of confidence after learning that he beat out freshman Keith Nichol and junior Joey Halzle for the job. But he also knows he can't rest now.
``There's two other really talented guys right behind me, so I've just got to keep playing the way I can because if I don't then there's two guys right behind me that are going to come in there after me,'' Bradford said.
Halzle was the only one of the three with any college experience, having played twice last year in a mop-up role. Nichol graduated from his Michigan high school early and enrolled at Oklahoma in January to enter the competition in the spring.
``It's been a little roller coaster, but I'm excited to be a part of this team. Like I said in the beginning, I'm excited to be a part of the competition,'' Nichol said. ``I'm going to come out here and keep competing, and hopefully I'll get a chance to come out on that field sometime.
``When I do, I'll be ready. But I think Sam's going to do a great job while he's out there.''
Nichol said he felt like he had ``made up a lot of ground'' since joining the other two on campus and considered it a compliment that coaches still were contemplating options for getting him into games this season.
``I'm not looking at this as a negative thing. I'm looking at it as a positive,'' Nichol said. ``They're still talking about me to get some playing time and competing and all that stuff.''
Bradford, who was already used to getting some headlines as a three-sport star at Putnam North High School in Oklahoma City, said he hasn't been distracted by any extra interest in him since he was named the starter.
``I honestly try not to pay attention to it,'' Bradford said. ``In high school, I didn't really read the paper, didn't try to listen to anyone like on the Internet because if you do people build you up, then all of a sudden you think you're something you're not and all of a sudden you fall.
``I probably put a little more pressure on myself knowing that it's a bigger spotlight now playing for the University of Oklahoma.''

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