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Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame: Former OU quarterback Jimmy Harris will be presented by Jay Wilkinson

Wilkinson: ‘All of us who played ball wanted to grow up and play just like him.'
by Ryan Aber Published: August 4, 2013

Growing up around the Oklahoma football program, Jay Wilkinson wanted to be Jimmy Harris.

“I was 7 years behind Jimmy, and my brother Pat was 5 and he was a hero to us,” Jay Wilkinson said of Harris. “He was somebody we wanted to emulate. All of us who played ball wanted to grow up and play just like him.”

Harris started 25 games at quarterback for the Sooners from 1954-56. He won them all, helping bring two national championships to Norman along the way.

He was the starting quarterback for more than half of Oklahoma's record 47-game winning streak.

Monday, Harris will be inducted into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame.

Jay Wilkinson, the son of legendary Sooners coach Bud Wilkinson, will present Harris into the hall.

Harris will join three teammates and Bud Wilkinson in the hall. Wilkinson was inducted in 1986, Tommy McDonald in 1991, Clendon Thomas in 1995 and Jerry Tubbs in 1999.

“There were so many good players at that period of time that Jimmy was probably not recognized for the role he played,” Jay Wilkinson said. “But when people look back and reflect on the record, I think it's certainly very appropriate.”

Harris died in 2011 at 76.

Harris never even made All-Big Seven at OU but was the model of a quarterback in Bud Wilkinson's Split-T offense.

“I don't think anybody ever executed the option play like Jim,” Jay said. “Jim was just one of those solid leaders and people that were so very effective at what he did. He had great quickness.”

When Harris took over at quarterback for the injured Gene Calame during the 1954 season, he was a confident-bordering-on-cocky kid from Texas.

“He had a flair about him that was just national champion confidence,” Gerald McPhail, Harris' teammate in 1954 and 1955, said when Harris died. “A ‘here I am, come on guys, let's go get it now.' He made everybody feel confident. He had that air about him that was really special.”

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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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