All three of Oklahoma's past Jim Thorpe Award winners — Rickey Dixon (1987), Roy Williams (2001) and Derrick Strait (2003) — were at Tuesday's banquet.
Strait, who was an All-American and started as a freshman on the Sooners' 2000 national championship team, said he recently moved back to his hometown of Austin, Texas, and wants to become a college football coach.
“I just want to get in there and be hands on,” Strait said. “I'd like to think I've got a little something to tell them if they wanna listen.”
Strait said he loves coming back to the Thorpe banquet every year.
“It's a beautiful event,” Strait said. “It's nice to see all the past winners and be in the alumni.”
Twelve former winners were on hand for Tuesday's event, including the last four — Patrick Peterson (LSU, 2010), Eric Berry (2009, Tennessee), Malcolm Jenkins (2008, Ohio State) and Antoine Cason (2007, Arizona). Also among the former winners in attendance was the first winner of the award, Baylor's Thomas Everett (1986).
PETERSON INSPIRED BY WINNERS
Wagoner's Kevin Peterson missed the Bulldogs' Tuesday night basketball game against Tahlequah to attend the banquet.
The defensive back was among The Oklahoman All-Staters honored at the event. Peterson was named the Defensive Player of the Year.
Peterson, who signed with Oklahoma State last week, said seeing the top defensive back in college honored was an inspiration.
“It shows that with hard work that that could be me up there in two or three years,” Peterson said. “It's just amazing to be a part of.”
Peterson said he would run track in the spring, likely competing in the 100, 200 and a pair of relays.
BULLARD SETTLING IN TO LIFE AFTER COACHING
Former Shattuck football coach Troy Bullard is in his fifth week away from coaching. He took a private job in Shattuck after coaching the Indians to another Class C title last season.
The Oklahoman's All-State Coach of the Year won his seventh state title, fourth all-time behind Jenks' Allan Trimble (nine), Clinton's Mike Lee and Carl Albert's Gary Rose (eight each).
“It's definitely sunk in and I'm sure I'll miss the Friday night lights, but when I get home, my time is mine now and I can spend a lot more time with my kids,” Bullard said. “I'm really enjoying that.”
Bullard won't be far removed from Shattuck football, though. His longtime defensive coordinator — brother Tyson Bullard — is the Indians' new coach.
“It's not about me,” Troy Bullard said. “The kids that played for me, and the coaches that were with me were the biggest part of everything.
“I just fell into a great situation.”
ANADARKO, ELGIN MOVE HOOPS GAME BACK FOR WILSON
Elgin agreed to move its boys basketball game at Anadarko back to 4 p.m. to accommodate Sheldon Wilson, who was at the Jim Thorpe banquet in Oklahoma City on Tuesday. He was honored as The Oklahoman's All-State Offensive Player of the Year.
Wilson, who rushed for 3,335 yards and scored 64 total touchdowns as a senior, also plays basketball for Anadarko. He will start his college career at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M Junior College in Miami.
Wilson scored 17 points in Anadarko's win and then made it just in time for the start of Tuesday's banquet.
DIXON ADJUSTING TO LIFE AS A STAY-AT-HOME DAD
Rickey Dixon was coaching high school football in Texas but is now a stay-at-home dad in Red Oak, Texas.
His wife is an attorney for the Environmental Protection Agency.
Dixon said the annual Thorpe banquet is a time of reflection for him.
“When you've been gone, it's nice to reflect on what you've accomplished and be among the other winners,” Dixon said.
“The award is getting bigger every year.”
Dixon, who shared the second-ever Thorpe Award in 1987 with Miami's Bennie Blades, said he enjoyed visiting with his old coach, Barry Switzer, at Tuesday's event. He said the two talk every couple of months.
“Barry is always number one,” Dixon said. “I wasn't highly recruited out of high school, but he gave me an opportunity.”
WARD ONLY UNDERCLASSMEN HONORED
Last season, four juniors were honored on The Oklahoman All-State first team.
Three of them — Anadarko's Wilson, Norman's Donovan Roberts and Heritage Hall's Sterling Shepard — were back Tuesday night to be honored for the second consecutive year.
The other, Jenks' Alex Ross, missed significant time with injuries.
This year, just one underclassman was picked for the first team — Lawton defensive end D.J. Ward.
Ward was also recently named No. 1 on The Oklahoman's Super 30 list of the state's top football prospects for 2013.
Ward missed on Oklahoma's first junior day last week because of family issues but has invites for upcoming junior day events at OU, Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas A&M.
“I'm looking forward to them,” Ward said.
Ward said he was wanting to gain some weight during the offseason.
PARSONS STILL UNDECIDED
Edmond North offensive lineman Cole Parsons is still waiting to determine his football future.
Parsons, an Oklahoman first-team All-Stater, didn't sign with anyone on national signing day. He visited Dartmouth recently but decided it wasn't for him.
Parsons (6-5, 250) has an offer from Weber State, but said he will wait and see what else comes.