(Editor’s note: I couldn’t have a Best of Week without tapping Eddie Maisonet of Ed The Sports Fan and The Unsportsmanslike Conduct Show to contribute. An Oklahoma native transplanted to the Queen City, Eddie delivers sharp commentary with a velvet hammer on ETSF. Follow him on Twitter: @edthesportsfan.)
First off, let me extend the right hand of thanks to the good folks of BH for allowing my words to grace this precious online Oklahoma real estate. Secondly, in the dog days of summer, it doesn’t take much to get me excited to talk about the Oklahoma Sooners. Living in Cincinnati full-time where the sports talk landscape is dominated by the greatness (and failures) of THE Ohio State University, talking about a real football institution that would never break rules or get suspended is quite refreshing…. yep.
With that being said, with the Bobby Stoops era entering its 13th season in Norman, it has been a privilege to witness some of the players who did work at Memorial Stadium. From AD, Roy and Sammy B, there have been some true stars that made their mark under Stoops’ watch. However, there are plenty of players who were superstars at OU yet for whatever reason just couldn’t stick in the league. It’s time we pay respect, because in some cases I probably revere these guys more than the household names everyone’s come to love. Here are the 13 best players in Stoops’ reign who never quite made it.
Quick Point: My qualification of “made it” is totally arbitrary and my personal opinion. If you didn’t stick on an NFL roster for more than a few seasons, then I’m saying you didn’t quite make it. Cool? Cool.
13. Mark Bradley
Honestly, there might not be two or three players that I was a true fan of more than Mark Bradley. It seemed like Stoops was scared to give him the ball because he was too damned fast. He was arguably one of the most physically gifted wideouts OU’s ever had and seemed to make countless big plays for the Sooners in all facets of the game.
12. Rufus Alexander
Only two things to say about #42: 1.) Dude tried to kill anyone who had the ball – I thought he was the next coming of Alvin Mack; 2.) Ruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu!!!!
11. Vince Carter
Arguably one of the two or three most consistent offensive linemen we’ve ever had. I truly believe he didn’t make it because his name was Vince Carter and no one took him seriously. Damn shame.
10. Brandon Everage
Without a doubt one of the most fearless safeties I’ve ever seen in college football, period. Everage seemed like he was always blowing up a run play three yards behind the line of scrimmage or trying to take someone’s head off over the middle. R.I.P to the homie Book, we’ll miss you.
9. Dan Cody
For all of the greatness that was Dan Cody at OU, the one thing everyone will remember was the pure excitement that he played with. He literally passed out in the middle of a game once while giving the speech. He could play end or tackle, and he left it all on the field. There’s no way you couldn’t like Dan Cody.
8. J.T. Thatcher
The man was an All-American at safety and returner, and I’ll never know why he didn’t stick in the league. Oh wait, I remember…. he got drafted by Al Davis and the Raiders. That’ll do it. Whenever Roy Williams would gamble on making a play behind the backfield, J.T. would be there to play centerfield. Whenever teams would be foolish enough to punt to him, J.T. would be happy to bring it back and give OU the field position it needed. He just made plays.
7. Dusty Dvoracek
There’s a part of me that will always believe that Dusty Dvoracek was actually a better defensive tackle than Tommie Harris. Not saying its true, but watching Dvoracek play was like watching a honey badger being let loose on a pack of hyenas. Dusty had no regard for human life or his own body, which unfortunately made him not like a honey badger. Dude got hurt all the time, and it derailed his pro career.
6. Antonio Perkins
This one is personal for me. You see, I’m from Lawton, and I have watched Antonio play football since I was in the sixth grade. Dude was always a burner and seemed like a natural athlete on the field. He could do whatever he wanted at any time. He seemed to be a natural wide receiver, so when Stoops pulled his “switcheroo” card and put Perkins at corner, I was shocked. Perkins should’ve never been a corner, but he did an admirable job as a slot cover guy. Of course, Perkins made up for that by shocking the world as a record-setting punt returner.
5. Torrance Marshall
While most people will point to Roy or Rocky as the leader of the defense during the Sooners push for a national title, I’d contend that Torrance Marshall was the brains behind the operation. Dude owned the middle and allowed Roy and Rocky to fly around without fear of getting burned. Of course, we all remember what happened versus Texas A&M…
4. Jason White
Oh, if the man’s knees would’ve just held up, we might have crowned Jason White as the first OU quarterback to make it in the league, instead of Sam Bradford. People forget that Jason White was one hell of an athlete and was primed to be a first-round pick if he stayed healthy. Injuries aside, he was one of the guttiest QBs I’ve ever seen, and I believe if White has one ACL versus LSU, then OU has another national title.
3. Rocky Calmus
The ringleader. Calmus was the reason why Stoops could unleash hell with his defense back in those days – I remember owning a Calmus jersey in high school and wearing it proudly. I’ll never know why he didn’t make it with the Titans – might’ve been his size or his speed – but he was perfect for Oklahoma and embodied the soul of that unit.
2. Josh Heupel
I’ll probably get some flack for putting Heupel at No. 2, but oh well, it’s my list. Heupel was the first quarterback I’d seen in OU history who made me believe that we could win every game. Heupel always seemed like he was thinking two to three plays ahead and always made the right play. Too bad he had a noodle arm or he would’ve made the league, but that national championship will always be on the resume. (One question for all the readers….do you all think he’s the future head coach of OU if/when Stoops steps down?)
1. Derrick Strait
At the time, the best defensive back in all of college football, period. The man won the Nagurski Award and was the only cornerback we’ve ever had that I’ve actually felt at ease with his coverage abilities. Maybe it’s why I revere him so much, because OU has had some shaky corners under Stoops’ regime, yet Strait seemed like a godsend over there. The man could tackle, the man had hands, the man could cover – there wasn’t much he couldn’t do. There hasn’t been a corner at OU like No. 2, and I’m not sure they’ll be another one anytime soon.