It’s time for an update on our Countdown to Kickoff! As of today, there are 36 days of the offseason remaining before the Oklahoma Sooners open the 2018 season against Florida Atlantic.
For today’s edition of the countdown series, I want to highlight two of the best players to don the No. 36 for the crimson & cream: 1969 Heisman Trophy winner Steve Owens and all-everything fullback Dimitri Flowers.
Starting with Steve Owens — the man was a straight-up load in the backfield. Not only did this tailback bring the thump, he could tote the rock for days. Owens averaged over 35 rushing attempts in his final two seasons, and in 1969, he amassed 358 carries for 1,523 yards and 23 touchdowns in just 10 games. While Oklahoma (6-4) didn’t fare so well that season from a win/loss standpoint, what Owens was able to accomplish on the field was impressive enough to warrant becoming the program’s second Heisman winner.
One of Owens’ shining moments came in his final collegiate game. In front of a rowdy Stillwater crowd, Owens was Oklahoma’s bell cow, and his number was called a whopping 55 times for 261 yards. Every bit of it was needed, too, as the Sooners narrowly edged the Cowboys, 28-27. Owens would then go on to capture college football’s most prestigious individual award, punctuating a fine career.
From the distant past to recent history, from one No. 36 to another, fullback Dimitri Flowers was like Steve Owens in that he simply went to work each and every day. Also like Owens, Flowers was a consistent producer for the Sooners’ offense, and defenses never had much of an answer for him.
Before he became a Sooner, Flowers was a San Antonio product. After signing with Oklahoma in 2014, Flowers quickly asserted himself as a force to be reckoned with. His blocking skills already made him invaluable to the team, but his ability as an offensive weapon with the ball in his hands made him a fan favorite.
Over the course of his four-year career, Flowers recorded 54 receptions for 886 yards and 13 touchdowns. Flowers also ran the ball 36 times for 151 yards and four TDs. In 2017, he was a First-Team All-Big 12 selection, as well as a First-Team All-Big 12 Academic selection. Dimitri Flowers was not only a jack-of-all-trades for the Sooners, he was the ultimate team player.
While Dimitri Flowers didn’t hear his name called during the 2018 NFL Draft, he was afforded the opportunity to work out with the New York Jets as a free agent, and in May, he officially signed a deal to became a Jet.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see Dimitri Flowers making some plays as his NFL career progresses. Honestly, it’s what he does best.
Now let’s cover the days we missed since our last countdown post:
37 days! - Landry Jones to Kenny Stills in Tallahassee
In 2011, Landry Jones and the Oklahoma Sooners traveled to Tallahassee for an epic non-conference showdown against the Florida State Seminoles. Midway through the fourth quarter, the game was all knotted up and someone needed to make a play. Jones pump-faked to his left while Kenny Stills streaked down the sideline. A precise pass to the corner of the end zone was all it took for Stills to high-point the ball for a 37-yard TD. Oklahoma would go on to defeat Florida State 23-13.
What most fans remember about this particular moment is the part that actually follows the touchdown. As Stills walks away, he holds up a one and a two with his hands in honor of the late Austin Box, the linebacker who had suddenly passed away just months prior to the start of the 2011 season. It was definitely one of the more powerful moments in recent college football memory.
38 days! - Roy Williams and J.D. Runnels
In Norman, the names Roy Williams and Superman are synonymous. The 2001 Consensus First-Team All-American safety (also winner of the Nagurski and the Thorpe Awards) is widely considered one of the top Sooner football players of all time.
Speaking of 2001, Williams pulled off one of the most iconic moves in college football history. On a stage the size of the state of Texas, the Sooners had the Longhorns backed up deep on their side of the field. As soon as UT QB Chris Simms took the snap, a flying Roy Williams was in his face on a perfectly timed blitz. The ball fluttered right into the hands of an opportunistic Teddy Lehman, and half of the Cotton Bowl instantly erupted, along with the rest of Sooner Nation.
‘Round these parts, it’s simply known as ‘The Superman Play’
Earlier I discussed Dimitri Flowers and what a sensational fullback he was for Oklahoma. Flowers was the last dynamic fullback in the Bob Stoops era, but J.D. Runnels highlighted the earlier years. From 2002 to 2005, Runnels was a key component in the Sooners’ offense, proving to be a proficient blocker while also totaling 51 catches for 450 yards and five touchdowns.
One of his five career TD receptions came in the 2003 Red River Shootout. With soon-to-be Heisman Trophy winner Jason White running the show, Runnels made the most out of his opportunity when his number was called. A five-yard TD catch and run was capped off by Runnels throwing the ‘Horns down en route to a 65-13 annihilation.
A glorious moment on a glorious day in Sooner Football history, and J.D. Runnels was there every step of the way.
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