Hello, Sooner fans! The countdown to kickoff is winding down fast, and we’re only two days away from the return of Oklahoma football! For today’s edition of the countdown, we will reflect on the career of a four-year starter, former cornerback Derrick Strait.
The ball-hawking corner out of Austin, Texas first arrived in Norman in 1999. After redshirting his first year at OU, Strait started every game during the 2000 national title winning season. His motor was always running at full capacity, and he simply had a knack for finding the football. Whether it was recovering fumbles or breaking up passes, if the opposition’s plans were being thwarted, Strait was typically a reason why.
Speaking of thwarting the opposition, many fans believe Strait’s biggest singular moments of his career came during the 2000 season. The first of which came during the Nebraska showdown. In a battle between the top-ranked Cornhuskers and the third-ranked Sooners, the outcome of this game would go a long way in determining who could have a place in the national championship.
Shortly after halftime, while OU was ahead 24-14 against a dangerous Nebraska squad, Derrick Strait made a play that let the Huskers and the rest of the college football world know that battling against Oklahoma would be no easy feat. As Heisman hopeful Eric Crouch attempted to lead Nebraska to a comeback victory, Strait intercepted his pass and took it 32 yards to the house. Oranges were being thrown out onto the field, and by game’s end they were everywhere.
Strait’s heroics didn’t end there. In OU’s Bedlam rivalry with Oklahoma State, late in the game and on a fourth-and-goal situation, Strait deflected a pass in the end zone that would effectively save Oklahoma’s perfect season. It was a moment for joy and celebration as Oklahoma was on their way to the Big XII Championship and eventually the BCS National Championship.
As if all of his plays and heroics weren’t enough for Strait to be a fan favorite in Oklahoma, the Austin native also TRULY hated the Texas Longhorns. Sure, going 4-0 against UT from 2000 to ‘03 felt nice for Sooner fans, but finishing a career series unblemshed with his hated rival must have been utter bliss for Strait.
For his career, Derrick Strait finished with a staggering 53 starts, 14 interceptions and two defensive touchdowns. In 2003, at the conclusion of his senior season, Strait was named the AP Big XII Defensive Player of the Year and earned first team all conference honors as well as a spot as a consensus All-American honors. Strait also won the Jim Thorpe Award for best defensive back and the Bronko Nagurski Trophy for best defensive player, joining former OU safety Roy Williams as the only Sooners to do so.
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