There are 27 days left in our Countdown to Kickoff, and for today’s subject I want to reflect on a key member of Bud Wilkinson’s 1956 national championship team, halfback J.D. ‘Jakie’ Sandefer III.
Jakie Sandefer, a Breckenridge, Texas product, was a fine ballplayer for Wilkinson from ‘56 to ’58, and his contributions helped the Oklahoma Sooners achieve their historic 47-game winning streak. Beyond his production on the field, Sandefer is most fondly remembered as the man who volunteered to be Prentice Gautt’s roommate during road trips.
Of course, the reason this is significant is because that particular roommate (and two-time All-Big Eight tailback) was Oklahoma’s first African-American football player. Gautt’s process of breaking a major color barrier — and bearing the burden that accompanied it — is one of the pivotal chapters in the history of the program and university, and Sandefer’s action is an important part of that story.
On Jan. 27, 2015, Jakie Sandefer passed away in Houston at the age of 78, but not before establishing Sooners Helping Sooners, a program created by Sandefer and others that works to help OU students affected by unforeseen financial strain. It’s a legacy Sandefer was immensely proud of, and one that is alive and thriving to this day.
In sports, often times we talk about individual stats, wins, losses, etc. While those discussions are largely enjoyable, we mustn’t forget about people like Jakie Sandefer. His efforts as a humanitarian and all-around good person helped better the university we all know and love.
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