On Monday, Crimson & Cream Machine published Part 1 of the 20 greatest Texans in OU football history. In the 120+ years of OU football, Texans have always played a vital role in the team’s success. We looked back on greats like Dede Westbrook, Greg Roberts and Derrick Strait. Today, the home stretch: our Top 10.
Everyone knows that some of OU’s best-ever players hail from the Lone Star State. But which ones rise above the rest?
10. Jack Mildren—Abilene
Until the QB-centric modern era of prolific passing, Jack Mildren had a great case for greatest OU quarterback ever. He may not have a national title to his name, but Mildren was absurdly ahead of his time, the archetypal dual-threat QB in an era where systems were heavily geared one way or the other.
One of the most sought-after recruits of his class, Mildren set passing records as a sophomore and then, when Chuck Fairbanks introduced the wishbone in 1970, started running over the league. Oklahoma went on to a 20-year run of dominance, largely because of the option offense that Mildren pioneered.
9. Greg Pruitt—Houston
This College Football Hall of Famer was a consensus All-American in 1971 and ‘72 and set a 1971 NCAA record for yards per rushing attempt, an astounding 9.41. Pruitt pioneered the tear-away jersey, which the NCAA then outlawed with the Greg Pruitt rule.
Twice a top-three Heisman finisher, Pruitt may not have a stadium-adjacent statue but certainly deserves recognition as one of the greatest products of Running Back U.
8. Tommie Harris—Killeen
Harris started every game of his true freshman season and never looked back from there. A first-team All-American in 2002 and ‘03, this massive defensive tackle capped his college career with a Lombardi Award win and a selection to Sports Illustrated’s All-Decade Team in 2009.
Harris racked up 10 TFLs, five sacks and a fumble recovery in 2003. Though his Sooners never repeated 2000’s glorious heights, Harris reminds us of the potential of a dominant Mike Stoops defense.
7. Jerry Tubbs—Breckenridge
This 1956 All-American and Walter Camp Award winner was one of the most versatile and athletic players of the Bud Wilkinson era. In the age of the two-way player, Tubbs excelled at center and also played linebacker and dabbled at fullback. In 1955, he picked off three Texas passes in the Cotton Bowl.
Tubbs went on to a long pro career as a player and coach, spending years as an assistant for Tom Landry in Dallas. But he’ll always be remembered for his contribution to legendary Wilkinson teams and his role in the The Streak of 47 straight victories. Tubbs was a winner, period.
6. Joe Washington—Port Arthur
Sims and Perine may have eclipsed “Little Joe” in yardage, but this two-time national champion and All-American was perhaps the most elusive running back in Sooner history. Washington’s silver shoes danced around the competition and into the OU record books with 4,071 yards.
Washington went on to a long and successful NFL career, but his contribution to Oklahoma’s championship tradition will never be forgotten.
5. Samaje Perine—Pflugerville
It’s impressive enough that Perine is Oklahoma’s all-time leading rusher and single-game rushing record holder. But Perine played in the shadow of Joe Mixon for most of his career and still achieved the remarkable — in a nominal Air Raid system, no less.
Factor in his good-guy personality and selfless style, and even a Redskins jersey won’t turn Sooner Nation against this powerful rusher. His weight-room feats and big plays will be talked about forever. The program is much healthier than it was when Perine arrived, and he’s a big part of that.
4. Brian Bosworth—Irving
The Boz: legendary, controversial, larger-than-life. Subject of scintillating “memoirs,” action movies and 30 for 30s, it’s easy to forget one basic fact about Bosworth: he was a damn good college football player.
A two-time first-team All-American and the first Butkus Award winner (the only player to ever win it twice), the strongside linebacker now shows up consistently on greatest-ever lists. Bosworth’s legacy will always be complicated — it’s still being hashed out to this day, re-litigated every time the Boz pops off about Bob Stoops or gets badmouthed by Tony Casillas. But he was every bit the talent we remember.
3. Baker Mayfield—Austin
How sweet it is to see an Austin kid taking Oklahoma football to new heights. Baker Mayfield has overseen some of the best and most prolific offenses in the history of the program, but his legacy isn’t finished yet. Baker’s still chasing his Heisman and a national championship, and I’m not sure I would bet against this spunky walk-on.
Sure, Baker’s received plenty of attention for his dance moves and off-field rushing attempts. But he’s mesmerizing on the gridiron, an athletic anomaly with pinpoint accuracy and a preternatural ability to extend plays. He’s been blessed by talented teammates, to be sure, but with so many NFL departures, any 2017 accomplishments — I expect there will be many — will be largely attributable to this confident underdog.
2. Billy Sims—Hooks
The third Heisman winner in OU history, Billy Sims was a two-time All-American and left OU as its all-time leading rusher. Sims regularly popped off 200-yard games, famously going for 247 against No. 1 Nebraska in 1979. He finished as the runner-up for the Heisman that season, nearly netting a second. Incredibly, a vast majority of Sims’ 4,023 career yards came in just two seasons.
Sims will live on with his great barbecue and big statue, but first he was the foundation of college football’s best running back factory.
1. Adrian Peterson—Palestine
Was there ever any doubt? Though AD’s NFL dominance brought him even greater national fame, the Palestine, Texas product was already a monster during his college career. Peterson is improbably without a Heisman or national title, but his legendary freshman season may never be reproduced.
His recruitment was the ultimate victory for Bob Stoops and his staff, and Peterson never disappointed despite his injury trouble. He was the perfect combination of innate ability and maximum effort, a combination that served him well in the NFL and on Owen Field.
So what do you think, Sooners fans? Leave a comment and let’s discuss!