Few outside of Oklahoma would’ve expected that the Oklahoma Sooners would leave Columbus last weekend with a mammoth victory in hand, let alone such a resounding one. Outside of the exemplary road performance from Baker Mayfield — a side of him fans have come to know quite well in these types of settings over the years — a few more unlikely names proved to be just as clutch on the big stage. Leading the way was none other than do-it-all fullback/H-Back Dimitri Flowers.
Stepping up in the right place, at the right time, for No. 1 option Mark Andrews after the Sooners lost the star tight end to a leg injury early on, the senior wasted little time in putting on a clinic in versatility and stealth-like efficiency from literally all over the field. Flowers, a natural blocker in the run game, surprisingly led the Sooners in rushing in the absence of Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine in Ames a season ago (22 carries, 115 yards), and somehow on Sept. 9 he added a team-high in receiving to his growing resume, as well. In his biggest performance to date, the dynamic Flowers went for seven catches and 98 yards including a dazzling 36-yard gallop in the open field for OU’s first touchdown of the night.
We knew Dimitri’s all-around talents would be part of Oklahoma’s offense coming into the season. But in his biggest moment he comfortably became one of the go-to guys as if he’s tailor made for it.
At 6-2, 247 pounds, the easy-going, unassuming Flowers arrived in Norman three years ago carrying some favorable comparisons to former Sooner fullback Trey Millard, an excellent all-around player in his own right before a leg injury cut his career short in 2013. Fans and media alike got their first look at Flowers’ gifted backfield skill set that was on full display in Ames a year ago, but his play in the open field of Ohio Stadium catching passes with the ease and fluidity of a wideout took his game — and the Oklahoma offense — to another level.
It was a breakout performance that was truly something to behold. Many Sooners stepped up big on the road for Lincoln Riley and Mayfield last weekend, but no one’s impact on the offense was felt more than that of Flowers.
The senior was quite possibly the nation’s most versatile secret weapon coming into the Ohio State game with his ability to run the ball to go with his excellent blocking abilities as a natural fullback. He left Columbus as Oklahoma’s most impressive and possibly most dangerous player outside of its Heisman-contending quarterback.
The Buckeyes had no idea what was about to hit them, and they are still probably scheming for how to match up with the multi-talented Flowers. He is one of the most unique football players to date, and I have a distinct suspicion the best is yet to come.
No other player at OU — perhaps anywhere in the country — could’ve replaced the special abilities of Andrews in quite the way Flowers did. North Carolina State H-Back Jaylen Samuels is one similar player who comes to mind. While Samuels has certainly been more productive statistically than Flowers as a consistent focal point of the Wolfpack’s offense the last three seasons, the 5-11, 240-pound, senior hasn’t recorded a performance quite like this on this big a stage to date. Additionally, while Samuels is a good blocker, he’s not in the same league as Flowers as far as run blocking is concerned.
As far as overall versatility is concerned, it can be argued that Flowers is tops in the country. Arguments can be made for defensive players such as Florida State’s Derwin James or Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick, but I think it’s safe to say that he currently leads that race on the offensive side of the ball due to his ability to catch, run and block at an elite level as well as his ability to line up in a multitude of locations.
Baker Mayfield may be the most valuable and talented player at Oklahoma — arguably in all of college football — but Flowers could be considered the most impactful with his array of contributions in nearly every facet of the game. As freshmen Trey Sermon and CeeDee Lamb along with the electrifying grad transfer Jeff Badet broke out in their own right on the road last Saturday, Dimitri Flowers was the one who truly made things go.
It’s tantalizing for fans and nightmarish for opposing defenses to imagine what the new-and-improved Flowers can do when Mark Andrews returns. It’s an embarrassment of riches that just keeps getting richer.
There was not a matchup on the field that could slow him down, let alone stop him, on Ohio State’s roster. A player like Flowers illustrates in poetic fashion the true extent of Oklahoma’s quality depth, versatility and outlandish offensive capability — his unique display of power and grace that few could imagine, let alone replicate, seemingly on the fly in primetime.
The senior from San Antonio is one special player. And we as college football fans are truly lucky to see in front of us the unfolding of just how special he can be.