What’s going on, Sooner fans? It’s time for another update on our Countdown to Kickoff! As of today, there are 40 days left until the Oklahoma Sooners return to the gridiron. For today’s edition of the countdown series, I want to take a look back on one of the best defensive players to come through Norman in the last few decades — linebacker Curtis Lofton.
From 2005 to 2007, Oklahoma fans saw the remarkable ascension of Lofton. As a high school senior, the Kingfisher native was regarded as one of the top 10 linebackers in the nation, and one of the Sooner State’s best prospects. Fortunately for Bob Stoops and company, Lofton turned down his childhood favorite, Oklahoma State, in favor of OU.
Lofton didn’t log a ton of legitimate playing time as a freshman, but he quickly became a true presence on the field as a sophomore in 2006. A year later, Lofton truly burst onto the scene and was named a Consensus First-Team All-American and Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2007. That season, he racked up a whopping 157 total tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, three interceptions, two pass breakups and a sack. The man was all over the field, and he’ll forever live in the head of Missouri quarterback and confirmed booger-eater Chase Daniel.
With all due respect to guys like Travis Lewis, Eric Striker and Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Lofton is probably the best linebacker OU has had since Rocky Calmus and Teddy Lehman called Norman home. Additionally, his 2007 season may only trail Roy Williams’ 2001 campaign as the best an OU defensive player has had since the program’s return to national prominence. The guy was an absolute force.
In the 2008 NFL Draft, the Atlanta Falcons selected Lofton with the 37th overall pick. He would become an integral part of the Falcons’ defense from 2008 to 2011 before signing with the New Orleans Saints, where he played through the 2014 season. Following one season with the Oakland Raiders and another as a free agent, Lofton announced his retirement from football, wrapping up a stellar professional career. From 2008-2015, he started 120 regular-season games, recorded 948 combined tackles (solo and assisted) and forced 11 fumbles.
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