It’s time to check back in on the Countdown to Kickoff, and as of today, we are 58 days away until the return of Oklahoma Football! Today’s edition of the countdown is unique because it’s not only about a former player, it’s also about a current coach for the Oklahoma Sooners. This man is definitely bleeds crimson through and through, and his name is Calvin Thibodeaux.
As a player, Thibodeaux suited up for Oklahoma from 2002 to 2006 as a defensive end, where he amassed 90 tackles, including 28.5 tackles for loss and 13.0 sacks over the course of his career. The Houston native was named to the All-Big 12 Second Team in 2005. Following the conclusion of his Sooner career, Thibodeaux signed with the CFL’s Calgary Stampeders for a brief stint in 2007.
Eventually, Thibodeaux found his true calling as a coach. His first coaching opportunity came as a graduate assistant with the Houston Cougars. After two seasons at UH, Coach Thibbs spent consecutive years at Navarro Junior College and Dartmouth before a three-year term at Tulsa. Thibbs got his first opportunity at a Power Five school at Kansas in 2015, and on February 24th, 2016, Thibodeaux’s career came full circle, as he was named Oklahoma’s next defensive end coach.
It’s a remarkable journey for a former player, and one that is still evolving. Coach Thibbs has steadily risen to become one of Oklahoma’s top recruiters, and his efforts and ability on the recruiting trail have even been recognized as one of the best nationally.
For as productive as he was as a player, Calvin Thibodeaux appears to be even better as a coach. Still, his playing days are worth remembering, so check out these awesome throwback Thibodeaux highlights from the early Stoops era. No. 58 was everywhere!
Now let’s cover the day we missed since our last countdown post:
59 days! - Donald Stephenson
Left tackle Donald Stephenson played at Oklahoma from 2007-2011, and was named All-Big 12 honorable mention in his senior season. Stephenson was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft, where he spent four seasons, before signing with the Denver Broncos in 2016. Today, Stephenson is a member of the Cleveland Browns, but he’ll have to sit out the first two games of the 2018 season with a suspension.
to— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) March 15, 2018
Welcome to Cleveland, Donald Stephenson! pic.twitter.com/21aISBooX7
60 days! - Wes Sims
Wes Sims was an Oklahoma offensive guard from 2000-04, lettering from 2001-04. The Weatherford native was a standout athlete in high school for both football and track and field, but he ran into a bit of trouble off it before signing with the Sooners. USA Today recognized Sims as a high school football All-American in 1999. Following a very solid career in Norman, he was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the 6th round of the 2005 NFL Draft before being traded to the San Diego Chargers. He retired in 2006.
61 days! - Ben Habern
Center Ben Habern lettered at Oklahoma from 2008-2011. In high school, Habern was selected as a U.S. Army All-American. The Denton, Texas native started for the Sooners for three seasons as the centerpiece on the offensive line, but during that span he dealt with several serious injuries that included setbacks to his ankle, his arm, and his neck.
After the Insight Bowl against Iowa to conclude the 2011 season, Habern chose to retire from football because of his history with injuries. However, along the way, Habern earned both a bachelor’s and eventually a master’s degree from OU, and his education has been put to good use. Today, Habern now serves as the Marketing and Strategic Partnerships Coordinator for the College Football Playoff.
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