Welcome back to another installment in our Countdown to Kickoff! As of today, there are 92 days left until the start of the 2019 season for the Oklahoma Sooners. For today’s edition, I’ll take this opportunity to look back on a handful of the 92 national award winners throughout program history.
When it comes to football excellence, Oklahoma is historically second to none. Going all the way back to 1951, when Jim Weatherall was awarded with the Outland Trophy for the nation’s top interior lineman, the Sooners have been a part of college football’s elite for decades.
In a conversation about individual honors, no discussion is complete without mentioning the Heisman Trophy. Oklahoma boasts seven such winners, which is tied with Notre Dame and Ohio State for the most all-time. It all started with RB Billy Vessels in 1952, followed by RB Steve Owens in 1969, RB Billy Sims in 1978, QB Jason White in 2003, QB Sam Bradford in 2008, QB Baker Mayfield in 2017, and the most recent winner being QB Kyler Murray in 2018.
There are a few national college football awards that only appear in Oklahoma’s overflowing trophy case once. In 2003, LB Teddy Lehman was named the Bednarik Award honoree, given to the nation’s best defensive player. In 2015, C Ty Darlington took home the Campbell Award, aka the ‘Academic Heisman’. This award is given to the player who best exemplifies what it means to be an outstanding student in the classroom and player on the field. A year later, WR Dede Westbrook became the Sooners’ first Biletnikoff Award winner in 2016, deeming him the top receiver in the land that season. Finally, TE Mark Andrews was named the nation’s top tight end to become OU’s first Mackey Award winner.
One award that has continued to elude the grasp of an Oklahoma player is the Doak Walker Award, given to the nation’s top running back. Now the manner in which many of these awards are given is not an exact science and probably more of a glorified popularity contest, but considering the amount of quality backs the Sooners have fielded over the years, it is a bit surprising. The closest any OU player has come to winning the Walker is in 2004, when Adrian Peterson was named a finalist as a true freshman.
With the current trajectory of Oklahoma football under Lincoln Riley, the trend of award-winning seasons doesn’t appear to be changing course any time soon.
Now let’s cover the days we missed since our last countdown post:
93 Days! - Lee Roy Selmon
Ask any long time Sooners fan and they’ll tell you Lee Roy Selmon was perhaps the greatest player to ever wear an Oklahoma uniform. With so many past greats, there could always be a debate about who’s the best, but this OU DT who wore No. 93 should always be at the front of the conversation. The Eufaula native was an absolute anchor in the middle of the defensive line from 1972-1975, and went on to become the first overall pick in the 1976 NFL Draft. In 1995, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Unfortunately, he passed away at the age of 56 on September 4th, 2011 following complications from a stroke. Nevertheless, his legendary play will live on in the memories of his fans.
Oh, and that Gerald McCoy guy was (is) pretty great, too.
94 Days! - Jimmy Stevens and the most extra points made in a single season
In 2008, the Oklahoma Sooners fielded an offense that re-wrote several categories in both the OU and national record books. One of those records that still stands at the top today is the most extra points made in a season. Freshman Jimmy Stevens went 94-99 following touchdowns on the year, and has since only been tied by Florida State’s Robert Aguayo in 2013.
Speaking of Stevens and FSU, I also want to take this opportunity to look back on one of the funniest moments in an OU game in recent memory. In 2011, Stevens kicked a low knuckleball for a successful field goal, and the subsequent expression of horror on Bob Stoops’ face was priceless. Don’t worry, Bob, all of Sooner Nation felt the exact same way.
It’s worth noting that this close call was the end of the line for Jimmy, so it wasn’t all fun and games.
95 Days! - Rickey Dixon’s 95-yard INT return in Bedlam
The 1987 Sooners were one of the most dominant teams in program history and came one touchdown short of claiming a national championship. Still, the season remains one to remember, as are the players who led the way.
One of those team leaders was Rickey Dixon. The ball-hawking defensive back was named the Jim Thorpe Award winner and an All-American in ‘87. Of the nine interceptions he had on the year, perhaps the sweetest one came against Oklahoma State. Mike Gundy was the Cowboys’ QB at the time, and in the fourth quarter of an epic top 12 Bedlam matchup, OSU’s future head coach contributed to the sixth longest INT return in OU history. Check Dixon out as he sauntered for an easy 95 yards.
Dixon, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2013, will be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame this December.
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