I can finally count on both hands how many days remain until the Oklahoma Sooners kick off the 2018 season. That’s right, there are 10 days left in our Countdown to Kickoff! For today’s installment, we’ve got several 10’s on the docket, including some bruisers on both sides of the ball. I’m talking about linebacker Torrance Marshall and quarterback Blake Bell.
Let’s starts things off on defense. Coming all the way from Miami, Florida in 1999, Torrance Marshall was a physical specimen at the linebacker position. What made him great was that the big man played even bigger, regularly laying the wood as the defensive enforcer.
Torrance Marshall days until kickoff pic.twitter.com/CBqw6KCJlu— Derek aka DMO (@MORTONLB53) August 22, 2018
Marshall was a team captain for the Sooners for the two seasons he played in Norman, and he led with both his voice and his play. Not only was he instrumental in rallying his teammates, he came up big in clutch moments himself as well.
Perhaps the play most Sooner fans recall when thinking of Torrance Marshall happened in College Station during Oklahoma’s 2000 season. Texas A&M looked like they might pull off the upset, after leading for much of the game, but a furious comeback on the Sooners part was in the works. In the late stages of the fourth quarter, the Aggies still led by less than a touchdown, and it was Marshall who came to the rescue, picking off a pass and returning it 41 yards to the house.
Of course, in part because of Marshall’s late-game heroics, Oklahoma went on to play for the BCS National Championship in his hometown of Miami against the Florida State Seminoles. He and the defense put on a dominant performance as Bob Stoops and the Sooners won 13-2. Marshall was named MVP of the game.
Torrance Marshall went on to be drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the third round, where he played four seasons. His ability and leadership is something Sooner fans continue to look back fondly on.
From South Beach to Wichita, Kansas, while Blake Bell was no heat-seeking missile like Marshall (mainly because he played on offense), his style was about as physical as it gets for anybody on either side of the ball, and especially for a QB.
After redshirting in 2010, Bell backed up Landry Jones for two seasons, but saw considerable action in a special package that affectionately became known as ‘the Belldozer’. In short yardage situations, Bell would sub in and take the direct snap, following his blocks and almost automatically picking up the yards needed. It was wildly popular for its high rate of success, including 24 touchdowns from 2011 to 2012.
Coach Stoops and Blake Bell after the win pic.twitter.com/yg2oorarub— Oklahoma Football (@OU_Football) December 7, 2013
Going into 2013, Bell found himself in a QB competition with Trevor Knight, and Knight ultimately won the starting job. After Knight went down early with an injury, the Belldozer finally received his chance to start. In his first game as a starter, he set an Oklahoma record for the most passing yards for a first time starter with 413 yards.
Over the course of that 2013 season, Bell and Knight alternated starts, with Bell still retaining his role in the Belldozer package. He finished the regular season in thrilling fashion, when he came up clutch to upset Oklahoma State in Stillwater in the final minute of the game.
In his senior season at Oklahoma, Bell changed positions from QB to tight end. It proved to be a smart move in terms of his professional future, as the San Francisco 49ers selected him as a tight end in the fourth round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Today, he is with the Minnesota Vikings.
Now let’s take a look at a few other notable Sooners who also donned the No. 10 jersey.
Kicker Uwe von Schamann
Uwe von Schamann was born and raised in Berlin, West Germany until he was 16, when he moved to Forth Worth. Soon afterwards, the German placekicker was offered a scholarship to play for Oklahoma in 1975. Eventually, von Schamann was named the all-time All-Big 8 kicker, and his most notable moment as a Sooner came in 1977 in Columbus, Ohio.
As the Sooners trailed the Ohio State Buckeyes by two with six seconds left, von Schamann lined up for the play of the game. Before the highly anticipated moment, the fearless kicker actually waved his arms up and down, imploring the OSU fans to cheer louder. He then backed up his taunt by nailing the 41-yard field goal, sending the Sooners back to Norman victorious.
In 1979, von Schamann would go on to the NFL and play for the Miami Dolphins for six seasons, but legacy of the play simply known in Sooner lore as ‘The Kick’ will live on forever.
Defensive back Scott Case
Waynoka, Oklahoma native Scott Case transferred to Oklahoma after playing two seasons at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College. He was a hard-hitting defensive back that played cornerback and free safety under Barry Switzer from ‘82-’83. When he wasn’t blowing up receivers over the middle, or tracking down tailbacks, he was snagging any ball thrown his way. As a senior, he was named to the All-Big 8 First Team and tied the school record for interceptions in a season (eight).
Case went on to have a very productive career in the NFL. After being drafted in the second round by the Atlanta Falcons in 1984, he led the league in interceptions in 1988, which in turn is also when he was named to the Pro Bowl. After 10 years with the Falcons, he played his final pro season under his former head coach, Barry Switzer, in Dallas. He capped off his career as a member of the Cowboys’ Super Bowl XXX winning team for the 1995 season.
Linebacker Lance Mitchell
Before Lance Mitchell arrived in Norman, he spent one season in his hometown at San Francisco City College. He then transferred to Oklahoma in 2002, when he lettered for three seasons.
Mitchell was the kind of MIKE linebacker who played behind his pads. He put his all into tackling, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a number of his opponents felt him well after the game was over. After starting every game his sophomore season, he missed nearly all of the ‘03 season with a torn ACL. He returned to the field the next year and wrapped up a solid career, recording 219 tackles, 32 tackles-for-loss, six sacks, and five forced fumbles.
Safety Steven Parker
Steven Parker is another notable Oklahoma native who wore the No. 10 jersey. Coming down from Tulsa in 2014, the safety had a lot of the natural tools to become a solid player for a long time. As it turns out, he wound up playing a ton of ball for the Sooners. After starting in four of 13 games as a freshman, he started the final 40 games of his college career, racking up 217 tackles, 11 tackles-for-loss, 3.5 sacks, two interceptions and 20 pass breakups.
Parker’s shining moment came in 2015, when Oklahoma hosted TCU. The Horned Frogs were in the midst of an epic comeback, and after scoring a touchdown to get within one point, of tying the game, Gary Patterson elected to go for two and the win. As if in slow-motion, it was Parker who literally rose to the occasion, as he batted down a pass in the corner of the end zone that otherwise would have almost certainly been caught by a TCU receiver. His game-saving play was instrumental in propelling Oklahoma to the College Football Playoff.
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