Oklahoma’s Greatest Football All-American (1957-1962)

Tommy-mcdonald-1955-56_medium

Tommy McDonald 1955,1956

Tommy McDonald pulled away from the field to join the likes of Billy Vessels, Darrell Royal and others who were voted on by you as Oklahoma’s best All-American from 1953-1956. Now we need to find a possible future opponent in our search for Oklahoma’s greatest football All-American.

Here are the All-Americans from 1957-1962. Let us know who you think was the greatest.

Clendon Thomas, HB - 1957
Clendon Thomas was named a consensus All-American in 1957. He led the Sooners in scoring during both 1956 and '57, also leading the nation in the category during the 1956 season.

He was a key to Oklahoma's national titles in both 1955 and '56. With his nine touchdowns during his senior season, Thomas set the three-year scoring record at the University of Oklahoma. His combination of speed, strength and lateral movement made him not only a great halfback, but also an excellent defensive back. Against Notre Dame in 1956, Thomas returned a Paul Hornung pass for a touchdown.

The two-time all-conference selection was drafted in the second round by the Los Angeles Rams in 1958.

Bill Krisher, G - 1956, 1957
Bill Krisher earned consensus All-America honors in 1957, after being selected by Sports Illustrated in 1956.

He was a large contributor to the offense that led the country in rushing offense and total offense in 1955 and '56. His play on both offense and defense was a large part of the Sooners' national titles during both of those years.

He opened up many of the holes that helped Clendon Thomas earn the scoring title in 1956. "Bill goes out after 'em and drives right on through 'em instead of just standing up to block 'em. I've never seen a blocker like him," Thomas said.

The two-time all-conference selection was drafted in the third round by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1958.

Bob Harrison, C - 1958
Bob Harrison was an All-America selection in 1958. We are left to wonder if he could have won multiple honors if he hadn't played behind another All-American, Jerry Tubbs.

Everyone, including Tubbs, noticed once Harrison took over the starting center duties. "Harrison is the best center I ever saw in college. As a sophomore, he was doing everything better than I could - and asking me how to do things the right way," Tubbs said.

During 1958, Harrison was also named to the all-conference team and named Lineman of the Year by UPI. Harrison was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in 1959.

Jerry Thompson, G - 1959
Jerry Thompson earned All-America honors in 1959. He was the only member of that Sooner squad to receive national honors. Rugged and tough, Thompson broke his nose three times during his career at OU. Most of his teammates commented that his nose had been replaced with a ski jump.

While not only possessing great blocking skills, the Ada native was also a punishing tackler. When asked about a football pile, he said he loved to be on the bottom. "If you're on the bottom, you probably got the first tackle and started the whole thing. That oughta make you feel real proud," Thompson said.

Also an outstanding student, Thompson was named to the academic all-conference team in 1959. He was drafted in the ninth round by the Buffalo Bills in 1960.

Joe Don Looney, HB/P - 1962
During Joe Don Looney's first game, he walked up to then-head coach Bud Wilkinson and said, "Put me in the game, I'm going to score a touchdown." With the Sooners losing 3-0 to Syracuse late in the fourth quarter, Wilkinson decided to let him prove it, and that's exactly what he did. On Looney's first carry he took the ball 60 yards and won the game for OU.

The only junior college player that Wilkinson ever accepted, Looney played only one full season for the Sooners during which he led OU in rushing (852 yards on 137 carries), scoring (10 touchdowns and 62 points) and kickoff returns (31.5 average). His 43.4 yard punting average led the nation.

Considered to be one of the greatest athletes ever to play at OU, Looney had only played football for two years before coming to OU. He was the ninth player taken in the 1964 NFL Draft by the New York Giants.

Wayne Lee, C/LB - 1962
Wayne Lee earned All-America honors in 1962. On offense, he was the key to Oklahoma's powerful offensive line. The Ada native was considered to be the Sooners' top blocker.

As much of a threat on defense, Lee led the Sooners in tackles during home games his sophomore year with 64. He was the co-captain of the 1962 squad.

Along with receiving national honors, he was named an all-conference selection. Lee excelled in the classroom as much as he did on the playing field. He was named part of the academic all-conference team in 1962 and was also a GTE/CoSIDA Academic All-American.

He was drafted in the 20th round by the Houston Oilers.

Leon Cross, OG/LB - 1962
Leon Cross was honored by The Football News and the Football Writers of America with All-America honors in 1962.

During the first couple of years of Cross' career it didn't look like he was ever going to play a down for OU due to injuries that forced him to the sidelines. His battles through problems with his foot and knee earned him the nickname "Old Rugged Cross."

He was the co-captain of the Sooners during his senior year in 1962. Cross was steady and experienced, commanding respect from all his teammates. During his rehabilitation he tore some rib cartilage. He wouldn't allow anything to stand in his way so he played with the pain.

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