What’s up, Sooner fans? We’re moving right along in our Countdown to Kickoff, and as of today there are 30 days left before the Oklahoma Sooners take on Florida Atlantic in the 2018 season opener. For today’s countdown segment, I want to highlight one of the best to ever do it on Owen Field: the one and only Greg Pruitt.
Oklahoma's Greg Pruitt on the October 2, 1972 cover of Sports Illustrated pic.twitter.com/A3lwMj9lLN— SportsPaper (@SportsPaperInfo) June 7, 2018
Greg Pruitt debuted for OU in 1970 — Chuck Fairbanks’ fourth season as the head coach of the Sooners — and the Houston native was instantly one of the most dynamic players in the Sooners’ program. Pruitt’s speed and quickness were on another level compared to most of his competition. Even if a defender had an angle on him, often times it still wasn’t enough to catch him. Needless to say, Pruitt flourished at Oklahoma.
In 1971 and 1972, Pruitt finished third and second, respectively, in the Heisman Trophy balloting, in addition to being named a back-to-back Consensus All-American. Pruitt totaled 4,431 all-purpose yards and 41 touchdowns throughout his three-year career, which puts him in the top 10 for each category in program history.
Following an illustrious college career, Pruitt moved up to the NFL in 1973, where he was selected by the Cleveland Browns in second round. Pruitt put up some major numbers over the course of his nine-year career in Cleveland, both on the ground as well as in the receiving game.
However, perhaps his greatest impact to the game is the rule that was named after him. In 1979, the Greg Pruitt Rule went into effect, which banned league players from wearing tear-away jerseys during games. Pruitt was known for his elusiveness on the field, but wearing tear-away jerseys made it nearly impossible for defenders to bring him down without ripping off half of his uniform first.
Pruitt spent his final three seasons as a pro with the Los Angeles Raiders. As a result, Pruitt became a Super Bowl champion after the Raiders defeated Washington in Super Bowl XVIII. By the end of his 12-year NFL career, Pruitt racked up 5,672 rushing yards, 3,069 receiving yards and 45 total touchdowns on his way to five Pro Bowls, making him one of the most successful Oklahoma backs at the pro level.
There will always be a debate on which school is ‘Running Back U’. That’s the nature of college football. At Oklahoma, there will always be debates about which backs were the best of the best. When it comes to either of those debates, Greg Pruitt’s name absolutely deserves mention. He was one of the best.
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