Hey everyone! Welcome back to another edition of our 2020 Countdown to Kickoff series. There are 18 days left until the Oklahoma Sooners open the season against Missouri State. With that said, I want to take a close look at a couple players from OU’s past, as well as a player currently on the roster. Let’s start things off with TE Grant Calcaterra!
Calcaterra was a coveted four-star recruit coming out of Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif. in 2017, and even though the Sooners started John Mackey Award winner Mark Andrews at tight end, Calc’s talent was too good to leave sitting on the sidelines. While he wasn’t as physically imposing as Andrews, his athleticism made him a valuable weapon in Lincoln Riley’s high-powered offense.
Going into his sophomore season in 2018, Calcaterra was the guy replacing the guy. Overall, he did quite well for himself, starting 11 games and playing in all 14 en route to a Big 12 Championship and berth into the College Football Playoff.
Speaking of that Big 12 title game, the one shining moment of Calcaterra’s football career happened in Oklahoma’s rematch against the Texas Longhorns for all the conference marbles. Up 32-27, eventual Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray and the Sooners were driving deep in UT territory with just over two minutes remaining. A touchdown would all but seal the deal for the Crimson & Cream, but OU faced a critical 3rd and 10. Thankfully, K1 tossed a perfect fade towards the right corner, and Calc did all the rest.
This one-handed, 18-yard TD grab will go down in Oklahoma history as one of the most memorable Sooner Football moments ever. Not only did it come in a rematch against an archrival, it was for a conference championship. The lights don’t get a whole lot brighter than that, and Calcaterra was ready for it.
As a junior, Calcaterra was finally a veteran in the locker room, and took it upon himself to lead his teammates by example. Unfortunately, his impact on the field was extinguished relatively early, as he suffered a concussion in a long list of prior head injuries. Then on Nov. 21, 2019, he announced his retirement from football.
That announcement was nearly nine months ago, and a lot can happen in that span of time. In fact, not only did Calcaterra go on to graduate early from OU, on Aug. 15 of this year, he revealed his decision to enter the NCAA transfer portal in pursuit of a return to the football field.
In a three-year career that was cut short by injuries, Grant Calcaterra still managed to record 41 catches for 637 yards and nine touchdowns. Wherever he lands next in his collegiate journey, that program will be acquiring one of the most admirable, hard-working young men out there with the talent to be a true difference maker.
And now... TIGHT ENDS WHO WORE (and wear) 18!
TE Jermaine Gresham (2006-2009)
Outside of Keith Jackson, Jermaine Gresham might be the most dynamic tight end to ever suit up for the Sooners. While the superstar receiving threat out of Ardmore, Oklahoma saw limited action as a true freshman in 2006, he showed flashes of his inner greatness. Once eventual Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford was handed the keys to Kevin Wilson’s offense in 2007, Gresham’s impact was amplified and his potential realized.
For his career, Gresham amassed 1,629 receiving yards and 26 touchdowns on 111 catches, solidifying himself as one of the top offensive weapons, regardless of position, in the FBS over that span. Going into the 2009 season, he suffered a knee injury during preseason camp, putting an end to his senior season before it ever began.
Fortunately, that didn’t keep him from being selected in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft. The Cincinnati Bengals picked Gresham with the 21st overall pick. It was there he became a two-time Pro-Bowler (2011, 2012), before moving to the Arizona Cardinals. In nine years as a pro, the former Sooner standout totaled 3,752 yards and 29 TDs on 377 receptions. In March of 2019, he was released by the Cardinals.
Those who know Gresham best consider him to be one of the most genuine and caring people they’ve ever met. He attributes this to his upbringing, and credits his mother and grandmother for teaching him to be an incredibly helpful and respectful person. And he doesn’t just talk the talk, he definitely walks it, too. Check out this collection of stories sharing the random acts of kindness Gresham has done away from the spotlight for strangers in need.
TE Austin Stogner (2019-present)
Oklahoma is starting to become known for having a matchup nightmare at the tight end position year in and year out. In 2020, it’ll be no different with the 6’6, 262-pound Austin Stogner back in the fold.
The Plano, Texas native’s true freshman season went about as well as it could have when you consider the amount of talent he had to share the field with. WRs CeeDee Lamb and Charleston Rambo alone combined for nearly half the team’s receptions, leaving the rest of the production to be divvied up between the other pass-catchers. In Stogner’s case, he hauled in seven balls for 66 yards and a pair of touchdowns, both of which happened in OU’s epic 25-point comeback victory over the Baylor Bears.
1⃣8⃣ Days Until ⭕️ .— Sooner Gridiron (@soonergridiron) August 25, 2020
As a true freshman, Austin Stogner was a big part of Oklahoma's epic comeback win against Baylor last season with two touchdown catches against the Bears.#OUDNA | #BoomerSoonerpic.twitter.com/wPJ5tlNps1
The young TE also scored another TD in 2019, but this one came on special teams. Against the West Virginia Mountaineers, H-back Brayden Willis blocked a punt in the end zone, and Stogner was in the right place at the right time to recover the loose ball for six.
Going into the upcoming season, there will be a lot of new faces tasked with making plays for Oklahoma’s offense. Austin Stogner has the potential to take a huge step forward as one of Lincoln Riley’s primary weapons.
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