As we continue processing the sudden retirement of the all-time winningest coach in the storied history of Oklahoma Sooners football, we thought we’d wax nostalgic on the Bob Stoops era by ranking the best players to come through the program in the last 18 seasons. OU’s longest-tenured head coach among his numerous accolades has coached countless All-Americans, multiple Heisman Trophy winners and groomed 84 Sooners into NFL Draft picks.
It was tough narrowing this list of Stoops-era Sooner greats down to just 30 players and even more painful seeing some of the biggest names narrowly miss the cut. While you may disagree with some of the names or rankings on this list, we hope you’ll enjoy this look back at the greatest Oklahoma Sooners of the Bob Stoops era.
Just missed the cut...
Jermaine Gresham (Tight End, 2006-09), Dan Cody (Defensive End, 2000-04), J.T. Thatcher (Defensive Back/Returner, 1997-00), Trey Millard (Fullback, 2010-13), Andre Woolfolk (Defensive Back/Wide Receiver, 1999-02), Kenny Stills (Wide Receiver, 2010-12), Jalen Saunders (Wide Receiver, 2012-13), Dusty Dvoracek (Defensive Tackle, 2001-2005), Stockar McDougle (Offensive Lineman, 1998-99), Aaron Colvin (Cornerback, 2010-2013), Tony Jefferson (Safety, 2010-2012), Antwone Savage (Wide Receiver, 1999-02)
30. Phil Loadholt (Offensive Tackle, 2007-08)
At 6-8, 345 pounds, Phil “Double-Wide” Loadholt was, to put it mildly, an imposing and dominant lineman during his two seasons at Oklahoma. Transferring to OU in 2007 ranked as the top offensive tackle prospect in junior college, Loadholt went on to earn All-Big 12 honors as a junior and senior on one the most prolific offenses in college football history during Heisman winner Sam Bradford’s reign at quarterback.
The massive, Hawaiian-born tackle was picked in the second round by the Minnesota Vikings in the 2009 NFL Draft and enjoyed a solid pro career during which he paved the way for 2012 NFL MVP Adrian Peterson before retiring from football in July 2016.
29. Brandon Everage (Safety, 2000-03)
One of the hardest hitters ever in college football history, the late great Brandon Everage is remembered as one of the most ferocious defensive stars of the early 2000s. Part of Bob Stoops’ inaugural recruiting class in 1999, Everage was often overshadowed by Roy Williams and Derrick Strait in the vaunted Sooners secondary but is still considered through the years among OU’s most elite defensive backs and clutch players of all time.
A national champion in 2000, Everage’s best individual season came in 2002, when he registered 94 tackles and six interceptions on his way to earning All-American honors following Roy Williams’ departure to the NFL.
28. Rufus Alexander (Linebacker, 2003-06)
The Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and a first-team consensus All-American in 2006, Rufus Alexander became the first Sooner to lead the team in tackles for consecutive seasons (2005-06) since Rocky Calmus (1999-2001). In his standout senior season, Alexander led the OU defense with 118 tackles including 12 for loss along with four forced fumbles and an interception.
The Louisiana native led the 2006 Sooners to the first of three straight Big 12 championships and a Fiesta Bowl appearance before being selected by the Vikings in the 2007 NFL Draft.
27. Curtis Lofton (Linebacker, 2005-07)
Prolific middle linebacker Curtis Lofton was a tackle machine through his three seasons at Oklahoma, earning Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and first-team All-American honors as a junior in 2007. The Kingfisher, Okla., native registered a remarkable team-high 157 tackles that season, which will now stand forever as the best single-season mark in Bob Stoops' 18 years at Oklahoma.
26. Antonio Perkins (Cornerback/Punt Returner, 2001-04)
One of the most spectacular return specialists in college football history, Antonio Perkins set NCAA records for most punt return touchdowns in a single game, with three, and most punt return yards in a game with 277 against UCLA in 2003, and was named an unanimous All-American that same season. The elusive cornerback, who played in back-to-back BCS title games in ‘03 and ‘04, is also tied with Wes Welker and Ted Ginn Jr. for most punt return touchdowns in a college career with eight.
A first-team all-conference selection from 2001-03, Perkins was a fourth-round pick of the Cleveland Browns in 2005.
25. Dede Westbrook (Wide Receiver, 2015-16)
The 2016 Biletnikoff Award winner and arguably the fastest wide receiver in Oklahoma football history, Decrick Deshawn “Dede” Westbrook undoubtedly left his indelible mark on the program in his two prolific seasons donning the Crimson & Cream. Setting school records for receiving touchdowns in a season with 17 and receiving yards in a game with 232, Westbrook, named unanimous All-American as a senior, developed into college football’s premier deep threat through the Sooners’ unbeaten conference run in 2016, and earned an invite to New York as a Heisman finalist following his landmark season.
Westbrook is set to enter his rookie season with the Jacksonville Jaguars after being taken in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft.
24. Joe Mixon (Running back, 2015-16)
One of the most dynamic all-purpose players in recent college football history, Joe Mixon’s single-season mark of 194.25 yards per game ranked second in the nation in 2016. Part of one of the most memorable rushing duos in school and sport history through his two seasons as a Sooner, Mixon along with Samaje Perine helped lead the Sooners to back-to-back Big 12 titles, an appearance in the 2015 College Football Playoff and a dominant win in the 2017 Sugar Bowl against Auburn.
Mixon finished his 25-game OU career with 2,027 yards and 17 touchdowns on the ground along with 894 yards (averaging 13.8 per catch) and nine touchdowns in the air. He begins his NFL career in Cincinnati after being drafted in second round of the 2017 NFL Draft.
23. Duke Robinson (Offensive Guard, 2005-08)
One of the best offensive linemen in school history, George “Duke” Robinson was twice named First-Team All-American under Bob Stoops. Robinson was the key inside piece in protecting Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford and clearing lanes for the Sooners’ duo of 1000-yard rushers DeMarco Murray and Chris Brown during OU’s run to a BCS National Championship appearance in 2008.
22. Torrance Marshall (Linebacker, 1999-00)
It could be argued Torrance Marshall was the most invaluable player of the 2000 national championship season. The fearless, playmaking linebacker from Miami came up with the game-clinching, season-preserving pick-six to escape a tense afternoon in College Station, followed by a dominant MVP performance in the ’01 Orange Bowl (“Damn right!”). Teaming with Rocky Calmus to form the nation’s most lethal linebacker duo, Marshall’s 2000 season ranks among the best at the position in school history.
Following his decorated collegiate career at OU, Marshall went on to be selected by the Packers in the third round of the 2001 NFL Draft and played four seasons with Green Bay.
21. Trent Williams (Offensive Tackle, 2006-09)
A first-team All-Big 12 performer in 2007 and 2008, Williams was one of the anchors on the most potent offenses in modern college football history. Williams, who starred at right tackle for three seasons before switching to the left side as a senior, was named an All-American along with fellow offensive linemen Phil Loadholt and Duke Robinson during OU’s prolific 2008 campaign.
Taken fourth overall by the Washington Redskins in the 2010 NFL Draft, Williams continues a solid pro career and earned first-team All-Pro honors in 2016.
Come back later this week for the next part of our tribute to the greatest Sooners of the Stoops era. And as always, be sure to comment with your own opinions and memories of these OU legends.