Oklahoma football: Tony Jefferson, Kenny Stills' departures creates openings for different kind of OU leaders
COMMENTARY — Tony Jefferson and Kenny Stills were poised to move into prominent leadership roles on the Oklahoma football team. Their departures create an opportunity for leaders for whom wearing a Sooner uniform is something special.
Videoview all videos
Jan 8What's the prognosis for the NFL draft hopes of Kenny...
Jan 5Jason Kersey and Jenni Carlson break down the 2013 AT&T...
Photoview all photos
NewsOK Related Articles
You have to think so, with the likes of Sterling Shepard and Gabe Ikard, Aaron Colvin and Bronson Irwin on the roster. Those guys are Oklahomans who grew up with a fire for the Sooners.
Take Irwin, the offensive lineman. There's a great story about him being a third grader in Mustang and finding himself awe-struck the day then-Sooner lineman Bubba Burcham visited his classroom. Burcham's sister just happened to be Irwin's teacher.
That day is forever seared into Irwin's memory.
Irwin sees playing for the Sooners as a dream come true.
For Irwin and players like him, being a Sooner matters in a way that's different.
Think about some of the notable Okie Sooners of the past decade or so. Gerald McCoy. Curtis Lofton. J.D. Runnels. Teddy Lehman. Trent Smith. Rocky Calmus. Those guys weren't just passionate about playing college football. They were passionate about being Sooners. And they infused their teammates with that same fire.
They cared about playing for OU in a way that was different from others. And right now, this program needs guys who care passionately about being Sooners to take the lead.
Had Jefferson and Stills returned, they would've been sure leaders. And they would've done a fine job, I suspect. But they would've come at their roles as leaders from a different spot.
Now with their departure to the NFL, there's a chance for next year's team to have a completely different vibe, to trade California cool for Oklahoma tough.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.
Sports Photo Galleriesview all
- 33746Oklahoma tornadoes: The 'Big Dog,' the little boy and the hug that triumphs over tragedy
- 15554Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms drink in success of 'Hangover' series
- 10129Oklahoma tornadoes: Woman meets the military officer who shared the clothes off his back
- 9883Hobby Lobby argues case before federal judges
- 9568Oklahoma tornadoes: Thunder reverses the role, takes a turn at cheering on the community
- 8114Blake Shelton's "Healing the Heartland" televised tornado benefit set for Wednesday at Chesapeake Energy Arena
- 8089Story behind the photo: Family members describe desperate search for one another after EF5 twister