What’s up, Sooner fans? Don’t look now, but according to our Countdown to Kickoff clock, we are only 15 days away from watching the Oklahoma Sooners run out onto Owen Field for the first time this season. For today’s countdown special, I want to highlight a human highlight reel — the one and only JT Thatcher.
A couple years before Bob Stoops arrived on the scene, a Norman High product by the name of JT Thatcher stayed home to play for the Sooners. For the ‘97 and ‘98 seasons, Thatcher played on the offensive side of the ball, and while he had the ball skills, he wasn’t quite tapping into his true strengths.
In came Stoops, and to the defense went Thatcher. At free safety, No. 15 was like a kid in a candy store, free to roam and pick off anything that captured his eye. For two seasons, he blossomed in his new role, but it was his added dimension as a returner that made him truly special.
That 93-yard kickoff return against the No. 2-ranked Kansas State Wildcats in 2000 was originally ruled a touchdown, but the call was reversed after review. Still, it set up Oklahoma’s go-ahead score, and proved to be an important moment for the team en route to a national championship.
As you can see, and probably remember, Thatcher was an impact player on defense and an electrifying game-changer on special teams. For his senior season (‘00), he was named an All-American as a returner a DB, and was a Thorpe Award semifinalist after tying school records for most interceptions in a game (3, Rice) and for a season (8).
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