On the Mount Rushmore of great Oklahoma defensive tackles — Mount Crushmore? — Rick Bryan gets overlooked. There’s Lee Roy Selmon. And Tony Casillas. And Tommie Harris. Maybe G.K. McCoy joins them now.
And the other guy. The unassuming, low-key, country boy. The guy we called Ricky Bryan when he played. Don’t forget him. He belongs on that mountain. Bryan, who died last year at the age of 47, missed the Sooner glory years. Selmon and Casillas anchored national title teams. Harris and McCoy starred in national title games. Bryan played on Barry Switzer’s three down teams, 1981-83, each of which lost four games. But not because it was missing an interior ruffian. Bryan is being inducted into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame, and here’s why. Because he was a big-time defensive tackle at OU and because he was a big-time defensive lineman in the NFL, where he played for nine years. Bryan started 93 games for the Atlanta Falcons. Bryan never sought the spotlight, and the spotlight never really found him, even though he twice was named all-American at OU. Bryan was nothing about the glitter and all about the grit. When he left pro football, Bryan returned to his hometown of Coweta and ran a 1,000-acre cattle farm. Hard work, he said, but he enjoyed it. Just like defensive tackle.