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Oklahoma football: Barry Switzer’s greatest players

by Berry Tramel Published: October 5, 2012

As part of Barry Switzer’s 75th birthday celebration, I ranked the top 75 Switzer players. We didn’t have room in the newspaper, because of the wonderful tributes and my column, which you can read here and here.

But I’m offering up the list of Switzer players, and it comes with a twist. I included all players from Switzer’s 16 seasons as head coach, 1973-88, but also offensive players from 1967-72, when Switzer was offensive coordinator. Seemed to me that some of those great players from the Chuck Fairbanks era felt as close to Switzer as the later guys. Anyway, let’s get on with it:

1. Lee Roy Selmon, DT, 1972-75
Best Selmon is the best Sooner.

2. Billy Sims, RB, 1975-79
Won a Heisman, should have won another.

3. Tony Casillas, NG, 1982-85
First pick in ’86 NFL draft.

4. Rod Shoate, LB, 1972-74
Pioneered the speed linebacker.

5. Joe Washington, RB, 1972-75
Authored four of 10 most memorable Sooner plays.

6. Keith Jackson, TE, 1984-87
Most clutch player in OU history.

7. Greg Pruitt, RB, 1970-72
Hello, goodbye.

8. Jack Mildren, QB, 1969-71
Original wishbone quarterback; most important player in OU history.

9. Eddie Hinton, WB, 1966-68
They don’t make wingbacks anymore. Maybe they should.

10. Steve Owens, RB, 1967-69
How about this depth: Heisman winner Switzer’s fourth-best running back.

11. Brian Bosworth, LB, 1984-86
Beyond the cartoon character lived one heck of a player.

12. George Cumby, LB, 1975-79
From third-string fullback to linebacker great.

13. Dewey Selmon, NG, 1972-75
Great question. Was Dewey helped or hurt by playing next to Lee Roy all his life?

14. Greg Roberts, OG, 1975-79
’78 Outland Trophy winner.

15. Tom Brahaney, C, 1970-72
Greatest blocker of the early wishbone explosion.

16. Rickey Dixon, DB, 1984-87
’87 Thorpe Award winner.

17. Rick Bryan, DT, 1980-83
Great lineman was cursed by only slump of Switzer era.

18. Reggie Kinlaw, NG, 1975-78
Undersized but not underproductive, even in NFL.

19. Lucious Selmon, NG, 1971-73
No. 1 on the leadership list.

20. Darrol Ray, DB, 1976-79
Best Switzer player to not make all-American and a better player than a bunch who did.

20. Louis Oubre, OT, 1978-80
1980 all-American.

21. Mark Hutson, OG, 1984-87
Rare freshman offensive line starter on Big Eight title team.

22. Anthony Phillips, OG, 1985-88
Early product of Jenks blue-chip machine.

23. Terry Crouch, OG, 1979-81
Oubre’s sidekick on great O-line.

24. Daryl Hunt, LB, 1975-78
All-time leading tackler at OU.

25. Steve Zabel, TE, 1967-69
Great two-way player; defensive end, too.

26. Darrell Reed, DE, 1984-87
Joins Anthony Phillips and Wade Walker as OU’s only four-time all-conference picks.

27. Mike Vaughan, OT, 1974-76
First of the mammoth offensive linemen.

28. Kevin Murphy, DE, 1981-85
1983 Big Eight defensive player of the year.

29. Tinker Owens, WR, 1972-75
Crazy stats; two-time all-American, yet his catches by year were 22, 18, 18 and 12.

30. Randy Hughes, DB, 1972-74
14 career interceptions.

31. Jamelle Holieway, QB, 1985-88
Knee injury wrecked final 11/2 seasons, but first 21/2 years were superb.

32. J.C. Watts, QB, 1977-80
Two-time Orange Bowl MVP.

33. Mike Gaddis, RB, 1988-91
The original Jason White; came back from knee-surgery oblivion for a Cinderella story.

34. Terry Webb, OG, 1973-75
Not every Muskogee star was before 1960.

35. Dante’ Jones, LB, 1984-87
Overshadowed by Boz until his senior year.

36. John Roush, OG, 1972-74
One of eight all-Americans on ’74 national title team.

37. Jimbo Elrod, DE, 1973-75
Ruffian who was consensus all-American ’75.

38. Ken Mendenhall, C, 1967-69
11-year pro.

39. Thomas Lott, QB, 1975-78
No passing threat but devastating runner and optioneer.

40. Zac Henderson, DB, 1974-77
Started as true freshman on ’74 national title team.

41. Bob Kalsu, OT, 1965-67
Vietnam sacrifice overshadows an all-American career.

42. Steve Davis, QB, 1972-75
32-1-1 career record as starter.

43. Uwe von Schamann, K, 1975-78
Ohio State field goal made von Schamann a legend.

44. Eddie Foster, OT, 1971-73
’73 all-American.

45. Scott Evans, DT, 1987-90
Undersized, under-recruited, underappreciated, but a productive defender.

46. Billy Brooks, WR, 1973-75
Oh, to have played in the Stoops era.

47. Phil Tabor, DT, 1975-78
The Tabor twin who didn’t redshirt.

48. Paul Tabor, C, 1976-79
The Tabor twin who moved to offense.

49. Kenny King, FB, 1975-78
Not overshadowed in a backfield of Sims, Elvis Peacock and David Overstreet.

50. Jason Belser, DB, 1988-91
Poor man’s Roy Williams; hard-hitting strong safety.

51. Keith Gary, DT, 1979-80
Switzer rarely was short of defensive linemen.

52. Jackie Shipp, LB, 1980-83
Never as good as hoped, but always better than believed.\

53. Stanley Wilson, RB, 1979-82
Fullback, tailback, halfback, Wilson played them all. Well.

54. Kyle Davis, C, 1972-74
Made all-American in ’74.

55. Scott Case, DB, 1982-83
Junior-college transfer became impact player.

56. Dean Unruh, OT, 1970-72
One of the linemen who made the wishbone transition.

57. Elvis Peacock, HB, 1974-77
Quiet personality, despite his name.

58. Tony Peterson, CB, 1973-74
Original of the three Peters brothers at OU. And the best.

59. Richard Turner, DT, 1977-80
Great 1979 and 1980 teams often overlooked.

60. Danny Bradley, QB, 1981-84
1984 Big Eight offensive player of the year.

61. Clyde Powers, CB, 1971-73
That great ’73 defense wasn’t just the Selmons and Rod Shoate.

62. Karl Baldischwiler, OT, 1975-77
All-Big Eight in ’77.

63. Gary Baccus, DE, 1970-73
The first of OU’s standout stand-up ends.

64. Lydell Carr, FB, 1984-87
Switzer had himself some fullbacks.

65. John Goodman, DT, 1976-79
Played six years with the Steelers.

66. David Overstreet, HB, 1977-80
Classic wishbone halfback.

67. Albert Chandler, TE, 1970-72
Switzer had good tight ends before Keith Jackson.

68. Ken Jones, OG, 1970-72
All-Big Eight in 1971.

69. Reggie Mathis, DE, 1976-78
Juco transfer who made a mark.

70. Bobby Warmack, QB, 1966-68
Versatile QB of ’67 Big Eight champs.

71. Chuck Thomas, C, 1981-84
1983 all-Big eight.

72. Forrest Valora, TE, 1977-80
Clutch pass-catcher and great blocker.

73. Marcus Dupree, TB, 1982-83
Didn’t play long enough to rank higher.

74. Scott Hill, DB, 1972-76
Hit on Tony Dorsett still remembered.

75. Derrick Shepard, WR, 1983-86
From walkon to folk hero.

Collection: #BarrySwitzer

by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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