If you’ve attended any Oklahoma Sooners football game in the last few decades, you’ve almost certainly seen one former Sooner signing autographs on the street and yelling “BOOMER!” at the top of his lungs. If you haven’t seen him in Norman, you definitely heard him at last year’s Heisman Trophy Presentation (and plenty before that).
Before he was OU’s loudest cheerleader, Billy Sims was a damn problem on the football field. Sims rushed for 4,118 yards in his college career, a school record that stood for almost 40 years before Samaje Perine surpassed that career mark by just 4 yards in 2016. He rushed for 22 touchdowns in his 1978 Heisman campaign and followed it up with 23 more in 1979. Those two seasons still rank first and third in school history for single-season rushing touchdowns. The early returns in the NFL were quite promising, but a gruesome knee injury would ultimately derail a potential Hall of Fame career.
At every level of football, Sims was a threat to take any carry to the house and had a knack for breaking off 50-plus-yard runs on a routine basis.
Sims was certainly the most famous player to rock 20 for the Crimson & Cream, but a pair of Jenks, Okla. natives gave the jersey a resurgence in the early stages of the Stoops Era.
Rocky Calmus has one of the longest lists of accolades of any linebacker in Sooner history. Calmus amassed three first-team All-Big 12 selections (1999-2001), two Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year awards (2000-01) , two first-team All-American selections (2000-01), and a Butkus Award as the nation’s top linebacker (2001). Sooner fans remember him best for his role as the anchor of the 2000 defense that shut out Florida State in the National Championship game.
Calmus also had the esteemed honor of being my favorite player as a child. I spent the early years of my life living in Jenks, proudly sporting 20 on my first grade flag football team. I had a Rocky Calmus OU jersey that I wore just about everywhere, even after he graduated.
One time I was at the Dollar Tree in Jenks with my mom when I heard a random lady from across the store yell, “That’s my son!”. That woman came over and told us she was Kejuan Jones’ mother, and she was so excited to run into someone wearing her son’s jersey (Jones took number 20 the year after Calmus graduated). I suppose I have the NCAA and their inane rules about putting player names on merchandise (or letting those players capitalize on their names or likeness in any way) for making that nice woman’s day.
Jones split time in the backfield with Quentin Griffin as a true freshman and was OU’s premier back on the 2003 team that lost to LSU in the National Title game. His role was reduced somewhat during his last two seasons due to Adrian Peterson’s arrival in Norman, but that didn’t stop him from finishing his college career with 2,331 rushing yards and 37 touchdowns.
Oh, one more thing... Go Trojans.
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