Renaldo Works was a solid OU tailback from 2000-03. He rushed for 1,554 yards and 21 touchdowns in his career, and caught 46 passes for 413 yards. Works also returned to the university after one season in the NFL, obtaining a bachelor's degree in business/finance and a master's degree in entrepreneurship.
But Works is most remembered for one afternoon in Norman. On Sept. 7, 2002, Works was the hero of OU's 37-27 victory over Alabama. Works hadn't touched the ball when the Sooners took the field, trailing 27-23 with 3:33 left in the game. But Works turned two shovel passes into 23- and 39-yard gains, with a variety of Pac-Man moves, including a hurdle of a Bama defender. Works set up the go-ahead touchdown.
Now Works is a senior land man for Conoco-Phillips, and the Sooners are in the Sugar Bowl against Alabama.
How did it happen? Just being ready when they called my name. I wanted to have an opportunity, being nervous, getting my number called, getting a chance to make a play.
I think the defense was probably a little bit tired. Coach (Bob) Stoops was able to pull me in, somebody with fresh legs. They probably thought I was coming in to block. Threw them off a little bit. We hadn't run the shovel play a lot in the past. Only in practice. That probably threw them off. To run it with me was probably a change-up. That caught the defense off. I would like to call it Sooner Magic.
I remember running, but I don't remember the play. It was a play like another to me. Win. That's what I saw. I saw a W. I wanted to score. I wanted us to win. I hate to lose.
I didn't realize how big a deal it was until probably years later. Just to be able to have people wherever I go mention it to me, whenever I was out in the working world or corporate America. At Conoco-Phillips, they would mention the Alabama game. When you're 20 years old, you don't realize how it would impact your life. When I'm negotiating a deal, or just out and about, you have people that will mention that play to me.
OU-Alabama, just super exciting is what I would call it. The battle of the crimsons. Historic programs. Alabama in their own right, a lot of people say they're one of the greatest college teams in history. We have our way of saying we are, too.
Whenever you get those two big programs together, even though a lot of people are counting us out, I still think it's going to be a great game. Those guys are going to play well together. I believe we're going to make it a heck of a game and come out victorious.
I went to Booker T. (Washington in Tulsa). There's a little guy, (OU linebacker) Dominique Alexander, look out for him. That's a little guy I helped recruit a little bit. I was always told to give back. When you see someone who has an opportunity to play at the University of Oklahoma, help them out. I told him it's a good place to come. The alumni support is strong. You're going to get a good education. You'll have ties to the university the rest of your life. You might play professional football, but then you have to figure out what you're going to do the rest of your life. A good degree from the university will pay dividends.
Coach (Bob) Stoops said something to me, if you want to play, the only way you're going to play is if you're academically eligible. I figured no matter what, I was going to bust my tail and stay eligible so I could have the opportunity to play.
My parents pushed academics. And I also had another good mentor, Rocky Bright (of Tulsa Washington). He went to the University of Oklahoma before I got there. He kind of helped me get to that point. He would push me — the bottom line is, you want to get your books, you want to have the opportunity to be successful after football. I passed the same thing along.
The university has been so good to me. They helped me come back, helped me in reaching some of my short-term goals. A lot of guys don't want to go back because of pride. They don't want to feel like they didn't succeed. It's scary to go back feeling like that, especially going back to the same place where you were seen as a hero.