OU football: Congrats to Clendon Thomas
Clendon Thomas is going into the College Football Hall of Fame, according to Archie Manning, who has become a major part of the National Football Foundation, which oversees the Hall. So great news for Thomas, who is one of my all-time favorite Sooners from the ’50s.
I have no idea who belongs in the College Football Hall of Fame. The thing’s got over 1,000 members, so it’s not exactly an exclusive club. Judging and rating college football players is fool’s gold, anyway.
I have no idea how you compare a 1953 Santa Clara linebacker with a 1953 North Carolina linebacker, much less a 1953 Santa Clara linebacker with a 1957 Oklahoma halfback or a 1968 Purdue quarterback or a 1979 Florida State receiver or a 1990 Penn State tackle or a 2001 Nebraska guard. How do you do that?
But I can attest to this. Clendon Thomas was one heck of a football player. He was a senior in 1957, four years before I was born, but I’ve talked to enough old-timers to know this about Thomas. He’s perhaps the one Sooner in history most ahead of his time.
Thomas was big for 1950s football. A 6-foot-2, 200-pound halfback who went on to play 11 years in the NFL, mostly as a defensive back but also as a halfback and a receiver. A 200-pound college halfback would be big today. It was huge for the 1950s. A 200-pound NFL DB would be good-sized today. It was huge for the 1960s.
Thomas was a 1957 all-American at OU. He was the lone non-senior in the backfield of the Sooners’ great 1956 team, which featured quarterback Jimmy Harris, halfback Tommy McDonald and fullback Billy Pricer.
Hard to beat that backfield in OU history. Thomas sort of took a backseat to the star power of McDonald and Harris, and McDonald went on to make the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But Thomas was a fabulous player.
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