Since we’re fully entrenched in the offseason here at CCM, we thought we’d take you on a fun trip through football history by ranking some of the top players of all-time to come through the Oklahoma Sooners program. As Graham kicked things off yesterday with part one of the 20 greatest Texans in Sooner football history, I’ve compiled a similar list comprised of the greatest OU players from the Sooner State. Though Oklahoma may not be the recruiting hotbed of the Lone Star State, Florida or California, plenty of homegrown stars who once graced the high school football fields of the red dirt became household names in college football history while helping lay down the rich foundation of the renowned Sooner program.
Deciding on Norman over the likes of Austin, Stillwater, College Station and others, the in-state stars on this list chose OU for its’ championship tradition, quality coaching, state pride...and to kick some Longhorn ass, too. So, without further ado, enjoy the first part of the 20 greatest Sooner State stars in OU football history.
As the OU program is replete with award-winning players and championship tradition through the modern era of college football, this list wouldn’t be complete without including a few honorable mentions who just barely missed the cut. Some of these names might’ve made your list over a couple of the guys who made our top 20.
Mike Vaughan – Ada, Buddy Burris – Muskogee, Jackie Shipp – Stillwater, Darrell Royal – Hollis, Jimbo Elrod – Tulsa, Tinker Owens - Miami, Curtis Lofton – Kingfisher, De’Mond Parker – Tulsa, Jermaine Gresham – Ardmore, Kelly Gregg – Edmond, J.T. Thatcher – Norman
20. Antonio Perkins – Lawton
There are a few players who could arguably be more deserving of this spot, but the otherworldly special teams abilities of Antonio Perkins have earned him this ranking. Against UCLA in 2003, the versatile cornerback set NCAA records for most punt return touchdowns in a single game, with three, and most punt return yards in a game with 277, on his way to earning unanimous All-America honors that season. Perkins also owns a career mark of eight punt return touchdowns, which ties him with Wes Welker and Ted Ginn Jr., for most in a career in NCAA history.
19. Lucious Selmon – Eufaula
The eldest Selmon in Sooner lore may have been overshadowed by the accolades of brothers Dewey and Lee Roy (whom you’ll likely read about later) but was star in his own right. Among the honors earned by Lucious include a Big Eight Defensive Player of the Year award in 1973 and a runner-up finish for the Outland Trophy. He also placed seventh in the Heisman Trophy voting the same season. Lucious may have missed out on winning national championships in 1974 and ’75 with his brothers but enjoyed a standout collegiate career of his own.
18. Anthony Phillips – Jenks
A four-time all-conference selection in both academics and athletics in the mid-‘80s, offensive lineman Anthony Phillips also earned All-America honors his final two seasons in 1986 and ’87 after anchoring the offense through the national championship run of 1985. A truly unique student-athlete, Phillips was known for his achievements in the classroom as well as the football field and, despite being drafted by the Bears in 1989, chose to pursue a career in business and currently serves as a VP at Bank of Oklahoma.
17. Teddy Lehman – Fort Gibson
Two-time consensus All-American and ‘03 Butkus Award winner Teddy Lehman will go down as one of the most memorable linebackers in the modern era. Blessed with the size and athleticism to develop into the country’s best, Lehman took over for Rocky Calmus as the quarterback of the dominant defenses in the early Bob Stoops era. Lehman put up ridiculous numbers his senior season, leading the team with 117 tackles and adding a forced fumble, two interceptions and a whopping 19 tackles for loss, which earned him the 2003 Chuck Bednarik Award as the nation’s top defensive player.
16. Granville Liggins – Tulsa
Considered among the pantheon of outstanding linemen to play at Oklahoma, Granville Liggins is remembered for being one of the most unstoppable athletes in college football history. Liggins, also an All-American wrestler at OU in 1967, had the quickness and agility to go with his unmatched brute strength to develop into one of the most unblockable players in the land. Named an NCAA All-American his final two seasons, Liggins won UPI Lineman of the Year and finished seventh in Heisman voting in 1968 before starring for a decade in the Canadian Football League.
15. Sterling Shepard – Oklahoma City
The explosive Heritage Hall standout and Sooner legacy Sterling Shepard is an all-time fan favorite at Oklahoma. One of the most clutch and complete wide receivers the program has ever featured, Shep consistently came through in the biggest moments and finished his stellar collegiate career with 233 receptions for 3,482 yards and 26 touchdowns. Entering his second season with the New York Giants, the 40th pick of the 2016 NFL Draft is considered among the most promising young receivers in the league.
14. Dewey Selmon – Eufaula
The middle child of the Selmon family, Dewey was younger brother Lee Roy’s prolific counterpart and completed the most feared defensive combo in the nation. Through the Sooners’ national championship seasons in 1974 and ’75, Dewey Selmon was named an All-American and could’ve arguably been in talks for the best player in college football had he played at a different time than his all-time great younger bro. Taken in the second round of the 1976 NFL Draft, Dewey earned All-Pro Second Team honors in the fourth of his seven seasons of pro football.
13. Ryan Broyles – Norman
The two-time Biletnikoff Award finalist and All-American was a dynamic, silky-smooth playmaker who consistently delivered as one of the most dependable and prolific wide receivers in college football history. The Norman native, also a special teams standout, set the NCAA’s all-time career receptions record in 2011 (broken by East Carolina’s Justin Hardy three years later), and finished his collegiate career with 349 receptions for 4,586 yards and 45 touchdowns along with an appearance in the 2008 BCS National Championship Game as a redshirt freshman.
12. Rick Bryan – Coweta
Originally recruited to play tight end, defensive tackle Rick Bryan twice earned consensus All-American honors at Oklahoma and was awarded the Big Eight Defensive Player of the Year Award in 1982. The ninth overall pick in 1984, Bryan enjoyed a 10-year NFL career with the Atlanta Falcons through the ‘80s and ‘90s and still owns the OU record for career tackles by a defensive lineman with 365. The late Ricky Bryan’s oft-overlooked career was described by The Oklahoman’s Berry Tramel as “in the same discussion with Tony Casillas and just behind the Hall of Fame standard of Lee Roy Selmon” when it came to the position’s all-time best in OU football history.
11. Gerald McCoy – Oklahoma City
The beast from Southeast was one of the program’s most cherished personalities and feared defensive linemen in history. A two-time consensus All-American and leader on three conference-winning teams, McCoy was named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2008 and went on to be picked third overall in the 2010 NFL Draft. The two-time captain also started all forty games through his three-year OU career and is currently enjoying a streak of being named to five straight NFL Pro Bowls. McCoy also intercepted Tim Tebow on a perfectly played zone blitz in the 2008 BCS National Championship Game, one of the more memorable plays of his decorated Sooner career.
Come back later this week for the top 10 Oklahomans in Sooners history! And as always, be sure to comment with your own picks and memories of these OU legends.