NORMAN — Player A came to campus ballyhooed, sat out his freshman year, fought through injuries and entered his fifth Sooner season with 2,471 career rushing yards.
Player B came to campus ballyhooed, fought through injuries, received an extra year of eligibility and entered his fifth Sooner season with 2,448 career rushing yards.
One of those players is Billy Sims. The other is DeMarco Murray.
That's right, the biographical and statistical similarities are striking between Sims, Player B and the best offensive player in OU football history, and Murray, Player A and the Sooners' senior tailback.
Though Murray has had what many would call a disappointing career — missing games with bizarre injuries and sharing time with Allen Patrick and Chris Brown — he's got more career yards after four years than did Sims, even though Sims won a Heisman Trophy in his fourth season.
Now as a senior, with a mandate from Bob Stoops to get the ball more than ever, Murray has a chance, barring another goofy injury, to zoom up the OU career chart.
* Needs just 933 yards to become the No. 6 all-time OU rusher.
* Needs 1,529 yards to join Sims, Joe Washington, Adrian Peterson and Steve Owens in the Sooners' 4,000-yard club.
* Needs 1,648 to break Sims' career record of 4,118 yards.
"Anything is possible," Murray said. "But I'm not looking forward to breaking anyone's record. I'm just trying to stay healthy."
That's been the hard part. A serious turf toe plagued Murray in 2006, so he redshirted. In 2007, Murray suffered a dislocated kneecap during an onside kick against Texas Tech. In 2008, it was a torn hamstring on the opening kickoff in the Big 12 title game.
In all, Murray has missed six games the past three years.
"I have no control whether I play one game or two or 10 or 12," Murray said. "Whenever I'm out there, I'm going to play as hard as I can.
"I never thought I would be here five years. I'm taking it with full gratitude. I love it here. I love playing in front of these fans."
The idea that Murray could join the pantheon of Sims/Washington/Peterson/Owens seems a little silly. Murray has started only 18 of 36 career games. Never led OU in carries in a season.
But that figures to change. Before August camp opened, Stoops said he hopes to get the ball to Murray "similar to a guy like Adrian Peterson."
Peterson carried 339 times as a freshman and 220 times as a sophomore. Give Murray 220 carries in 2010, and he'll almost surely fall short of 4,000 yards. Give Murray 339 carries, and he'll almost surely break Sims' record.
"I don't think there'll be as much substituting as the last two, three years," Murray said. "They're going to give me the ball as many times as I can handle it."
The Sooner receiving corps was shaky in 2009 and, according to Stoops, remains so. That could mean OU tries to run the ball more.
If Murray plays 14 games, he'll need to average 117 yards per game to catch Sims. In 13 games, 127 yards.
Murray has averaged 5.2 yards per carry in his career. At that pace, Murray will need 317 carries to pass Sims.
DeMarco Murray is not Billy Sims. No one else in Sooner history has been, either. But if Murray climbs up the charts and approaches that 4,000-yard club, it's a testimony to perseverance.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at email@example.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.