Sometimes, recruiting is less about talent evaluation and more about luck.
In 1970, Oklahoma football coach Chuck Fairbanks was trying to recruit an All-State defensive lineman out of Midwest City, but lost the prized prospect to Oklahoma State.
In need of a nose guard, Sooner assistant coaches Barry Switzer and Larry Lacewell discussed the possiblities.
“Lacewell said, ‘I’ve got a defensive end who plays fullback over at Eufaula. He thinks he’s Jim Brown, but he’s not going to playrunning back. He’s fast and he’s big, but he’s never going to play offense for us,’” Switzer remembered.
It was Lucious Selmon, who on Tuesday will take his place in the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame.
“I don’t know if we would have offered him a scholarship,” Switzer said. “He’d never played nose guard a day in his life.”
Selmon came to Oklahoma, then he brought younger brothers Dewey and Lee Roy, all three of whom became All-Americans and ultimately transformed the defensive side of the ball at Oklahoma.
“Because we lost the kid to OSU, we offered Lucious,” Switzer said. “And the rest is history.”
Lucious Selmon was named a national Defensive Player of the Year in 1973, finishing second in the voting for the Outland Trophy, and seventh in the Heisman Trophy voting.
Selmon was drafted by the New England Patriots and played two seasons in the World Football League before he turned to coaching. He was a part of Switzer’s Oklahoma staff for 13 seasons, then spent six more under Gary Gibbs.
He later coached for the Denver Broncos and Jacksonville Jaguars, and made a one-year stop at Michigan State in 2005.