NORMAN—As Bob Stoops enters his 15th season as Oklahoma’s head football coach this fall, Jason Kersey and myself look back at the top 15 OU football players during Stoops’ tenure. The list began with Brandon Everage at No. 15. Today it continues with No. 8, cornerback Derrick Strait.
Jersey No.: 2
Years played: 2000-03
Hometown: Austin, Texas
Big 12 championships: 2
National championships: 1
Individual awards won: 2003 Bronko Nagurski Trophy (best defensive player), 2003 Jim Thorpe Award (best defensive back), 2003 Consensus All-American.
Notable: Had 14 interceptions, returning three for touchdowns, in his career. … Set school records for starts (53), interception return yards in a career (397) and pass break-ups (53). … Jim Thorpe Award semifinalist as a junior. … Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year in 2000. … Played quarterback, defensive back and running back as a senior in high school. … Drafted by the New York Jets in the third round in 2004. … Named to Sports Illustrated’s All-Decade team in 2009. … Strait returned to the Sooners as a graduate assistant last season.
THREE MEMORABLE GAMES
Oklahoma 65, Texas 13
When: Oct. 11, 2003
Where: Cotton Bowl, Dallas
Strait’s Day: Strait set the tone early, picking off Vince Young on the game’s third play and returning the interception 30 yards to set up OU’s first score. Late in the first quarter, with OU up 14-7, Strait recovered a fumble at the OU 3 after Brodney Pool had stripped Young. The Sooners drove for a field goal and scored 23 points in the second quarter to turn the game into a laugher. The Austin native finished with a season-high 11 tackles, recovered another fumble and deflected three passes in the Sooners’ rout. “He’s had a great career against anybody,” Texas coach Mack Brown said after the game. “Especially us.”
Oklahoma 12, Oklahoma State 7
When: Nov. 25, 2000
Where: Lewis Field, Stillwater
Strait’s Day: On fourth down late in the fourth quarter, Strait leaped in the corner of the end zone and knocked down Oklahoma State quarterback Aso Pogi’s pass away from intended receiver Marcellus Rivers to preserve the Sooners’ win, undefeated season and national championship hopes.
Oklahoma 13, Florida State 2
When: Jan. 3, 2001
Where: Pro Player Stadium, Miami, Fla.
Strait’s Day: A little more than a month earlier, Strait came up with a big pass break-up to seal the Sooners’ berth in the Orange Bowl. This time, Strait helped them win it, jumping to knock Chris Weinke’s pass away from Anquan Boldin inside the 5-yard line early in the fourth quarter to help the Sooners stay in front and win their first national title since 1985. The Sooners’ defense held Florida State to 301 total yards–nearly 250 yards below the Seminoles’ season average.