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Oklahoma’s Greatest Football All-American (2000-2002)

Rickeydixon_medium
Rickey Dixon 1987

Rickey Dixon has passed the test and is moving on by a narrow margin over Cedric Jones as the greatest football All-American from the period of 1987-1995. Now we are into the Bob Stoops era where 24 Sooners have been named All-Americans so far. Nine of them came from the period of 2000-2002.

 

Again, it isn’t fair because there are so many great players to choose from this era. Some players will get another crack at it because they were selected multiple times but I’ve got to tell you, the voting won’t get any easier. Let us know who you believe was the greatest.

 

J.T. Thatcher, FS/PR/KR - 2000
A standout on both defense and special teams, J.T. Thatcher was named an All-American as both a defensive back and returner. The Mosi Tatupu Special Teams Player of the Year Award winner, Thatcher was one of only seven players to return two or more punts for a touchdown in 2000 and ranked ninth nationally in punt return average.

A four-time Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week selection, Thatcher set OU’s single-game (160) and single-season (599) records for punt return yards. He also posted the second-highest single-game kickoff return yard total with 150, including a 93-yard return to set up OU’s go-ahead touchdown against second-ranked Kansas State.

Thatcher was a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award given to the nation’s top defensive back and tied school records for interceptions in a game (3) and season (8).

Josh Heupel, QB - 2000
The runner-up for the 2000 Heisman Trophy (by 76 votes), Josh Heupel became OU?s first consensus All-America quarterback and the first Sooner QB to earn All-America honors since Jack Mildren in 1971.

A two-time team captain, Heupel is largely credited with turning an offense that statistically ranked as one of the worst in the nation before his arrival into one of the most explosive in the country.

Heupel was named Associated Press Player of the Year, Walter Camp Player of the Year, The Sporting News Player of the Year, CBS Sports Player of the Year, Big 12 Player of the Year and Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year in 2000. The first-team all-conference selection guided OU to a school-record 13 wins and its seventh national championship.

Heupel holds virtually every OU and numerous Big 12 passing records.

Rocky Calmus, LB - 2000, 2001
Only a few players define their position, but that is precisely what Rocky Calmus meant to college football.

As a senior, he won the Dick Butkus Award as the nation's top linebacker, but also was a finalist for the Nagurski and Bednarik Awards as the nation's best defender and the Lombardi Award as the country's top interior player. His senior year total of 117 tackles vaulted him into Oklahoma's top five career tacklers and capped an incredible career.

As a junior, he was named the toughest player in college football by The Sporting News during the Sooners' 2000 national championship season. OU's all-time leader in tackles for a loss by a linebacker, Calmus was named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year by the Associated Press and was a finalist for the Butkus Award. A first-team All Big 12 selection in each of his last three seasons, Calmus led the squad in tackles in each of those years.

Calmus played through several injuries during his career including a fractured bone in his leg and a broken thumb. He was drafted in the third round of the 2002 draft by the Tennessee Titans.

Roy Williams, SS - 2001
By the time his career was over, Roy Williams was more feared by offensive opponents and more respected by his defensive peers than any player in the country.

In his final season at OU, he won the Nagurski Award as the nation’s top defender and the Thorpe Award as the nation’s top defensive back. He was No. 7 in the Heisman Trophy voting, the highest finish of the year by a non-quarterback.

Williams bypassed his senior season of eligibility to enter the NFL draft, but still left his mark on the OU record book. He was drafted in the first round (No. 8 pick overall) in the 2002 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys.

Jeff Ferguson, P - 2001
Most punters are known for the length and/or the accuracy of their kicks. Jeff Ferguson was outstanding in both areas. But Ferguson separated himself with athletic ability and intelligent play that made him the complete player at his position.

He ended his career as the school record holder for punting average in a career and became just the second player in school history to average more than 40 yards in each of his four seasons. The length of the kicks did not come at the expense of accuracy. Twenty-one of his 71 senior season punts were downed inside the 20-yard line.

The thunderous punts and the balls that trickled dead deep in enemy territory will be secondary as time remembers Ferguson’s career, though.

In his junior season, he made a brilliant play in the national championship game against Florida State, turning a bad snap into a safety rather than an opportunity for the Seminoles to get back into the game.

Teddy Lehman, LB - 2002, 2003
Teddy Lehman was named the Butkus Award winner as the most outstanding linebacker in college football in 2003 after bing a finalist in 2002. Lehman led the team his senior season with 117 tackles, including 63 solo, with two sacks and one interception.

The Ft. Gibson, Okla., native also had a team-high 19 tackles for loss (47 yards) and forced a fumble. Lehman was the leader of Oklahoma's top-ranked defense in 2003, guiding the Sooners to the National Championship game in the Sugar Bowl and a 12-2 record.

During his junior season in 2002, Lehman logged 112 tackles, including 17 for loss and two sacks in his junior season. He also had two interceptions, which went for 51 yards in returns, including one that set up the go-ahead touchdown against Texas.

Lehman's speed, which made him an outstanding high school sprinter, set the Sooner linebacker apart from his peers. He repeated as a consensus All-American in 2003 after first earning the honor in 2002.

Tommie Harris, DT - 2002, 2003
Defensive tackle Tommie Harris earned consensus All-America honors in 2003 after being named to three All-America teams as a sophomore in 2002.

Harris became the 12th Oklahoma player to be a finalist and the third to win the Lombardi Award in 2003. The junior from Killeen, Texas, won the recognition as the nation's top college lineman, making good on a pledge to return and win the honor after being a runner-up in 2002.

Harris was the anchor of a defensive unit that was near the top of virtually every statistical category in 2003. He had 37 tackles, including 10 for losses, five sacks and a fumble recovery.

"It's almost like in the days of Joe Washington,'' Oklahoma defensive line coach Jackie Shipp said. "When the ball was snapped, everyone looked to see what Joe would do. As a defensive tackle, we all want to see what Tommie is going to do next.'"

Harris’ sophomore season in 2002 was a testament to the nationwide success the Oklahoma defensive tackle had achieved. Slowed all season by a groin injury suffered in August drills, Harris still faced double teams week after week. Despite that attention, he was named to three All-America teams and was a finalist for the Bednarik and Lombardi Awards. Harris bypassed his senior season to make himself eligible for the 2004 NFL Draft.

Brandon Everage, FS - 2002
Free safety Brandon Everage earned All-America honors after a stellar junior campaign in 2002.

Six interceptions, with 107 yards in returns, would indicate that Everage understood the centerfield nature of his position. The 94 tackles, third-highest on the team, speak to the linebacker-like mentality with which the Oklahoma free safety played. It was that combination of abilities that landed Everage on the All-America rolls.

Everage recorded 60 tackles in 2003 (44 solo) including four for loss and one sack. He also nabbed one interception with four passes broken up.

 

Poll

Who was Oklahoma's greatest football All-American from 2000-2002?

This poll is closed

  • 27%
    Roy Williams, SS - 2001
    (23 votes)
  • 1%
    Jeff Ferguson, P - 2001
    (1 vote)
  • 1%
    Teddy Lehman, LB - 2002, 2003
    (1 vote)
  • 19%
    Tommie Harris, DT - 2002, 2003
    (16 votes)
  • 4%
    Brandon Everage, FS - 2002
    (4 votes)
  • 0%
    J.T. Thatcher, FS/PR/KR - 2000
    (0 votes)
  • 30%
    Josh Heupel, QB - 2000
    (25 votes)
  • 15%
    Rocky Calmus, LB - 2000, 2001
    (13 votes)
83 votes total Vote Now