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Oklahoma football: Before Tim Tebow, there was Steve Davis

STEVE DAVIS 1952-2013 — As a quarterback, he was nearly perfect. As a young man, Steve Davis knew he needed a savior, sharing that fact wherever he went.
by Ryan Aber Published: March 18, 2013

A map of Oklahoma hung in Steve Davis' room in Norman.

A pin marked every city the Sooners quarterback had traveled to in the state.

“I bet there were over 100 pins on that wall, at least,” former teammate Randy Hughes remembered Monday, a day after Davis and another Tulsa man were killed in a plane crash in South Bend, Ind. “He spoke all over the state.”

During his days as the Sooners' quarterback, Davis traveled around the state—mostly by plane—sharing his Christian faith with sermons and speeches.

Before Tim Tebow turned kneeling prayers in the end zone into a verb (Tebowing), before Landry Jones looked beyond life as the Sooner quarterback to the ministry, there was Steve Davis.

Davis had a nearly flawless record, suffering just one loss and one tie to go with 32 wins. Friends and former teammates remembered Davis on Monday just as much for his faith and the way he carried himself off the field as his exploits on it.

Less than two weeks before the Sooners opened the 1975 season—Davis' senior year—against Oregon, Davis traveled to Lubbock, Texas, to speak at a Billy Graham Crusade.

“If my prayer life today was what it was eight years ago, I'd be praying something like this,” Davis told the capacity crowd. “Thank you Lord for saving my soul, thank you Lord for making me whole, thank you Lord for letting me be, Oklahoma's quarterback of the wishbone-T.

“There's more to prayer than that — praying for people's needs. Jesus was a master at meeting people's needs and I wanted that in my life.”

The speech left quite an impression.

“If you want to know Steve Davis, watch that testimony,” Sooners teammate Jimmy Littrell said. “It was very inspirational for a 20-, 21-year-old kid to say the things he said.

“It's pretty amazing to me.”

Oklahoma's 1975 media guide laid out a typical week of travel for Davis, a licensed Baptist preacher, during the winter.

On Sunday, he spoke in Wynnewood, followed by Monday and Tuesday events in Chickasha. Thursday, he spoke in Lincoln, Neb., then in New Orleans on Friday and Coalgate, Okla., on Saturday.

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by Ryan Aber
OU Athletics Reporter
Ryan Aber has worked for The Oklahoman since 2006, covering high schools, the Oklahoma City RedHawks, the Oklahoma City Barons and OU football recruiting. An Oklahoma City native, Aber graduated from Northeastern State. Before joining The...
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