The number 11 is an important number in the game of football, for obvious reasons. In terms of Oklahoma football, 11 is significant for even more reasons. In this edition of our Countdown to Kickoff series, I’m going to be reflecting on the careers of some of the most special talents in Oklahoma Sooners history, including linebacker Teddy Lehman and receiver Dede Westbrook.
Let’s start things off with Teddy, who was a beast on defense. After playing sparingly in 2000, Lehman quickly became known as one of the team’s most aggressive defenders. The Tulsa native routinely blew up opponents in the backfield, and once he got a hand on a ball carrier, it was over. The guy also ran a 4.4 40 at the linebacker position, which is always a plus.
One of the most memorable plays involving Lehman happened in the 2001 Texas game. After Roy Williams went Superman over the line and jarred the ball loose from QB Chris Simms, it was none other than No. 11 on the receiving end. It would go down as one of the most famous singular plays in Red River history.
The list of accolades Lehman received throughout his college career is ridiculous. He was a three-time All-Big 12 first teamer (‘01-’03), a two-time Consensus All-American (‘02 and ‘03), and was the recipient of the Butkus and Bednarik Awards in ‘03. As a senior, he led the team with 117 tackles, including 19 tackles-for-loss, and added two interceptions and a forced fumble.
In the second round of the 2004 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions selected Teddy Lehman, where he’d play for four seasons. Today, you can find him hosting ‘The Rush’ on Sports Talk radio and covering Sooner Football from the sideline.
When you’re done marveling at how awesome Lehman was as an enforcer on defense, get ready for some serious speed, because that’s what Dede Westbrook brought to the table.
Coming out of Cameron, Texas, Dede Westbrook attended Blinn Junior College before arriving to Norman in 2015. His first season was good (46 catches for 743 yards and 4 TDs), but the explosion from his first to his second year was something nobody saw coming.
Westbrook was hampered by a hamstring injury in the first few games of the 2016 season. Oklahoma was off to a lowly 1-2 start, and the season seemed destined for total failure. Then something magical happened. Lincoln Riley and Baker Mayfield found a winning formula with Westbrook. The tandem built a connection that would scorch defenses for the rest of the year, and by the end of the season, the QB/WR duo found themselves at the Heisman Trophy ceremony in New York.
Although neither came away with the ultimate individual award that year, Westbrook did become Oklahoma’s first Biletnikoff Award winner in 2016, in addition to being named a Unanimous All-American. His 17 touchdowns is now the school record for the most in a single season, and his 1,524 receiving yards are the second most in a season behind Ryan Broyles’ 2010 output.
Dede Westbrook was selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft, and he’s currently poised to be one of the team’s top receiving options.
Now let’s take a look at a couple other notable Sooners who also wore the No. 11 jersey.
Quarterback Jack Mildren
Jack Mildren, originally from Kingsville, Texas, began his Sooner career in 1969. Under head coach Chuck Fairbanks and OC Barry Switzer, Mildren became known as the “Godfather of the Wishbone”. As a player in Fairbanks’ system, he set all kinds of QB records, and guided Oklahoma to an 11-1 record in 1971. That year, he was named Sugar Bowl MVP after a win against Auburn, as well as an All-American.
Mildren was a second round draft pick in 1972, where he played defensive back for three seasons with the Baltimore Colts and the New England Patriots. He moved on from football and eventually became the 22nd Lieutenant Governor of Oklahoma. In 2008 he passed away after battling stomach cancer.
Wide receiver Tinker Owens
Straight outta Miami, Oklahoma, Tinker Owens is the younger brother of Heisman Trophy winner Steve Owens. He wasn’t the biggest player at 5’11” and 168 pounds, but he was one of the most reliable options on offense from 1972 to 1975. His 62 receptions and 1,424 receiving yards were enough to make him a two-time All-American (‘74 and ‘75). He was selected by the New Orleans Saints in the fourth round of the 1976 NFL Draft.
The great Tinker Owens. All-American Wide Out. Great Athlete. pic.twitter.com/kRf0E23VCW— Bud-Barry-Bob (@barry_bud) January 19, 2015
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