NORMAN – One by one, players peeled themselves from a pile during the 2007 Red-White game, revealing a fallen teammate left on the ground amid fears of an apparent knee injury.
Watching from the press box that spring day, Oklahoma offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson felt helpless, trying to will Brody Eldridge to his feet.
"I was up there beating the wall the whole time, saying, ‘C'mon, c'mon, c'mon,'” Wilson said at the time.
"He's my guy.”
So much so that Wilson – and he's not alone – calls Eldridge, get this, OU's best player.
Not best tight end. Or best blocker.
And Eldridge just may be what coaches call a "glue” player, that guy with the ability to help bond a team chasing championships. A team like the Sooners.
"I don't know how many times he has a bad play,” Wilson said. "He's just rock solid. Every day.
"That's why a lot of times I'll say he's our best player. Because he's a great practice player. He's great in the offseason. He's great in the winter. He's good in the spring.
"He just loves to play. He's a very competitive kid. And he's a very driven kid.”
Driven to drive defenders into the turf.
Driven, too, to steer teammates toward a high bar of expectations.
That's Eldridge's deal, which isn't all that sexy to the outside world, yet plays big on the sidelines and in the weight room and in film study where blow-up blocks are a hit.
Officially, Eldridge is a tight end. He's got the number, 83, and the occasional receptions – seven in two seasons – as verification.
So he's the anti-Jermaine Gresham, although Gresham has pledged to learn from Eldridge's every-day intensity.
"It makes me want to step up my game, play on his level,” Gresham said.
Gresham gets the ball and the glamour.
A converted defensive end, Eldridge gets down and gets nasty.
"Brody is really a key figure in about everything we do,” said Sooners coach Bob Stoops.
"I've said it a lot, he's one of our most valuable players in the way he plays.”
The Eldridge fan club keeps gaining avid followers.
Teammates just voted Eldridge one of five Sooner captains. Last season, league coaches voted him first-team All-Big 12 – at fullback, a position he sometimes fills.
Technically, Eldridge isn't even a starter at either of his two spots, with the depth chart listing him as the backup at tight end and fullback.
OU Sports Blog