Oklahoma football: Remembering Steve Davis, the 'kid who gets the last scholarship' and becomes a winner

STEVE DAVIS 1952-2013 — Teammates recall how a player who ate, slept and breathed Oklahoma football became one of the Sooners' greatest winners.
by Michael Baldwin Published: March 18, 2013

A handful of college quarterbacks have won more games but Steve Davis' record as Oklahoma's starting quarterback — 32-1-1 — is legendary.

Three seasons.

Two national championships.

One loss.

Former OU defensive back Randy Hughes, who played six seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, said Davis possessed similar leadership qualities as NFL Hall of Hame quarterback Roger Staubach.

“With Steve we were never out of a game,” Hughes said. “It was the same with Roger. Everybody had confidence in both of them. You don't find very many people in life that generate that type of confidence. Steve was an unbelievable leader in addition to being very talented player.”

Other former OU teammates had similar comments concerning Davis, who died Sunday in a private plane crash in South Bend, Ind.

Former All-American running back Joe Washington recalled how Davis moved up the depth chart. Davis arrived on campus as the No. 8 quarterback but became the starter his redshirt sophomore season.

“One thing I'll say about a kid that gets the last scholarship, maybe he isn't the No. 1, 2 or 3 guys but if you can get a kid that had the enthusiasm Steve had about the University of Oklahoma, you get a little extra,” Washington said. “What he lacked in skills or ability, he made up with want-to and desire.”

Davis established early on he could make clutch plays to help the Sooners win games.

In his third start OU rallied from a 20-7 halftime deficit to defeat Miami 24-20 in 1973. The Sooners took the lead on a 52-yard pass from Davis to Tinker Owens.

“Steve said, ‘Look we're going to run this play, I'm going to throw it and I expect you to catch it,'” Owens said. “He threw it right there. I caught it. It probably was one of the more exciting endings we had there. There weren't many back then because we were usually ahead late…

“Once he got into that offense it was tailor-made for him. He was tough, he was big and he could throw the ball when we needed him to.”

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by Michael Baldwin
Reporter
Mike Baldwin has been a sports reporter for The Oklahoman since 1982. Mike graduated from Okmulgee High School in 1974 and attended Oklahoma Christian University, graduating with a journalism degree in 1978. Mike's first job was sports editor...
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