Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame: Former OU quarterback Jimmy Harris will be presented by Jay Wilkinson

Wilkinson: ‘All of us who played ball wanted to grow up and play just like him.'
by Ryan Aber Published: August 4, 2013

When Harris was at quarterback, he called his own plays.

In 1956 against Colorado, the Sooners trailed 19-6 at halftime and on the first possession of the second half faced a fourth-and-2 from their own 28. Harris called a running play, giving it to Thomas for the first down. OU came back for a 27-19 win.

“Jimmy was always one of my dad's favorites,” Jay said. “He was such an extraordinary leader.”

He was the polar opposite of Bud Wilkinson, but the pair formed a strong bond that lived on long after Harris' playing days ended.

Harris was just 10 when his father died.

“My dad, in many respects, served as a surrogate father to Jim,” Jay said. “They continued to talk really until dad's death.”

So when Harris was conflicted over what career path to take after spending a couple of years in the NFL as a defensive back, it wasn't a surprise when Harris sought his mentor's advice.

“I would get my geology degree,” Wilkinson told Harris. “When you turn about 45, you're going to wish that you were a geologist.”

Harris returned to play pro football for two years but started a successful career in business even before his playing career ended, eventually co-founding Midroc Operating Company.

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by Ryan Aber
Ryan Aber has worked for The Oklahoman since 2006, covering high schools, the Oklahoma City RedHawks, the Oklahoma City Barons and OU football recruiting. An Oklahoma City native, Aber graduated from Northeastern State. Before joining The...
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