Heisman trophies are nothing new to the University of Oklahoma football program. With two Sooner quarterbacks receiving the coveted trophy in just the last decade OU now has the third most Heisman winners of any school in the country. USC and Notre Dame each have seven winners, Ohio State has had six Heisman winners (although Archie Griffin won it twice) and Oklahoma has had five winners.
The point of this post, however, isn't the number of Heisman winners that Oklahoma has had but the state in which the winners are from. With the release of the Heisman themed EA Sports NCAA Football 13 the trophy has been talked about a lot over the past couple of weeks. There are some out there with the belief that the OU football program has only achieved its success off the backs of out of state players. The following information will most likely come as a complete shock to them.
Billy Vessels was a part of a couple of firsts for Oklahoma. He started on the 1950 team that won Oklahoma first ever national championship. He scored 15 touchdowns that year to help the Sooners complete their 10-1 record and solidify their place in history. Two years later Vessels became the first OU player to win the Heisman. During that 1952 season he rushed for 1,072 yards, at a pace of 6.4 yards per carry, and scored 17 rushing touchdowns. Vessels was raised in Cleveland, Oklahoma.
In 1969 Steve Owens attacked the record books with the same tenacity that he attacked opposing defenses. He carried the ball a 358 times for 1,523 yards and scored 23 rushing touchdowns that season to become Oklahoma's second Heisman winner. To this day he still holds five Oklahoma football records. Owens was raised in Miami, Oklahoma.
Billy Sims is OU's most vocal Heisman winner and he's also the only winner from the university not from the state of Oklahoma. Hailing from Hooks, Texas, Sims averaged 7.4 yards per carry in 1978 while racking up 1,896 rushing yards and 22 rushing touchdowns.
2003 brought about the era of the quarterback as Jason White became the first of two signal callers to win the Heisman for OU. Literally coming out of nowhere, following back-to-back season ending knee injuries, White stunned the college football world with pinpoint accuracy and a bevy of receivers who could get open in the second level of the defense. He passed for 3,846 yards and 40 touchdowns that year and led the Sooners to the BCS championship game. White was raised in Tuttle, Oklahoma.
Sam Bradford was not a highly touted prospect coming out of college but he blossomed into a record breaking quarterback at OU. In 2008 he guided the most prolific offense in the history of college football by passing for 4,720 yards and 50 touchdowns. The Sooners shattered records that season and Bradford walked away as Oklahoma's fifth Heisman winner. Bradford was raised in Oklahoma City.
Don't let Oklahoma's recruiting in other states jade your opinion of the home grown talent. There isn't a team in the country that doesn't look beyond the state lines for impact players. With four of their five Heisman winners being home grown, there may not be a better team in the nation than Oklahoma at evaluating and cultivating local talent. Perhaps instead of dubbing it the Sooner State we should start calling it the Heisman State?
This post was sponsored by EA Sports NCAA Football 13. Check out the video for the game below.
EA SPORTS NCAA Football 13 TV: "Son" (via EASPORTS)