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Former OU star Clendon Thomas headed to College Football Hall of Fame

BY MIKE BALDWIN, Staff Writer, Published: May 17, 2011
The official announcement didn't come until Tuesday, but former Oklahoma All-American running back Clendon Thomas was told by Archie Manning on Saturday night at the Sooner Spectacular he had been selected to the College Football Hall of Fame.

Saturday's event featured the statue unveiling for Heisman winner Sam Bradford. It also turned out to be a night Thomas will never forget.

“Because I played for the Rams four years in L.A., I thought they might want me to say a little something for Sam,” Thomas said. “I thought Archie was going to be the principle speaker for Sam. I was surprised when he presented me with that (commemorative) football. It's humbling.”

Selected the best football player to come out of Southeast High School by The Oklahoman four years ago, Thomas was a consensus All-American for the Sooners in 1957.

Thomas topped the nation in scoring in 1956 and led the Sooners in scoring as a junior and senior. He finished his career with 2,156 rushing yards. He never averaged less than 6.3 yards per attempt.

"He deserved this it a long time ago,” said Jimmy Harris, the Sooners quarterback in the mid-1950s. “He was big for running backs at that time. If we needed two yards, we'd always give him the ball. He could hit the hole better than anybody.”

Thomas played a key role in the Sooners' all-time record 47-game winning streak. During his three seasons, OU was 31-1.

“Five different teams contributed to that streak,” Thomas said. “We felt bad about that one loss, but Coach (Bud) Wilkinson told us after our last game that it would never be broken. I thought some team would break it. Amazingly, it's still stood for 53 years.”

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