Jerry Tubbs, one of the greatest centers in OU football history, started as a sophomore. At fullback.
That's the kind of athlete Tubbs was as a Sooner from 1954-56, when he was a cornerstone of Bud Wilkinson's dynasty.
Tubbs died Thursday in the Dallas area at the age of 77.
Tubbs placed fourth in the 1956 Heisman voting, one of the closest tallies in that trophy's history. Notre Dame's Paul Hornung won with 1,066 points, followed by Tennessee's Johnny Majors (994), OU teammate Tommy McDonald (973) and Tubbs (724).
Tubbs won the Walter Camp Award, given to the national player of the year, and also was named UPI's lineman of the year.
Then Tubbs played 10 years in the NFL, was hired by Tom Landry and spent 22 years as a Dallas Cowboys assistant coach.
“Outstanding athlete,” said Bill Krisher, Tubbs' teammate on those great OU teams. “Just so good at what he did as an athlete and an individual. And as a person. Clean-living. Deep man. Miss him already.
“Just an outstanding athlete. I enjoyed playing with him very much.”
Tubbs came to OU from Breckenridge, Texas, where he led two state championship teams. Then Tubbs went 31-0 as a Sooner, forming the bulk of the historic 47-game winning streak.
“Jerry's daddy was a fireman in Breckenridge,” said Jakie Sandifer, who was two years behind Tubbs at Breckenridge and then became his teammate at OU. “Very modest family. Jerry was a very modest individual. Just a quiet, nice guy.
“Jerry in high school and college, Jerry was fast. Just a dedicated guy. Fast as the backs almost.”
Tubbs was so good at linebacker as a sophomore that Wilkinson moved him from center to fullback. In those single-platoon days, players had to play both offense and defense. In 1954, OU had an All-American center in Kurt Burris, so Tubbs played fullback.
“He was really good on offense and defense,” said Krisher. “Just instinctive toward the ball, and he knew when to go in and make the tackle. He was just really good at everything he did. Pro ball as well as college ball.”
In 1996, Tubbs was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.