NORMAN — Oklahoma senior Trey Millard's college career ended prematurely Saturday night, when he suffered an ACL tear during the Sooners' 38-30 win over Texas Tech.
Coach Bob Stoops nicknamed the senior “Slash” because of all the positions he could play: fullback/tight end/H-back/running back, etc.
But really, Millard was the latest in a long line of versatile, unselfish Sooners who did the thankless dirty work in Stoops' offenses, paving the way — often literally — for other players as they racked up statistics and glory.
So who's next? It's hard to imagine anyone being as versatile and effective as Millard right away, but given Stoops' track record, the odds are good that someone else will emerge as Oklahoma's next “Slash.”
Junior fullback Aaron Ripkowski has spent the last couple years carving out that type of role for himself in the Oklahoma offense. The former walk-on earned a scholarship after last season, and has been used at times this year in two-tight end sets with Millard, in addition to occasionally lining up as an extra blocker in the backfield.
“They're very important,” OU co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell said of Millard and Ripkowski early last week. “We have versatile players, and Rip's been that kind of a guy for us this year. He's kinda playing a couple of different roles as a fullback, as a tight end, not his natural position.”
Seth Littrell, J.D. Runnels, Matt Clapp, Brody Eldridge and Millard have all, in one way or another, been the guy in that role. The spot has evolved through the years, but those five all performed critically important work on record-setting, championship offenses without many individual accolades to show for it.