NORMAN - When he walked onto the Oklahoma campus three seasons ago, Joey Halzle hoped to become the next Sooner quarterback. When he walks off the Owen Field turf for the final time Saturday, he will have nary a start to his name and a dubious performance at Texas Tech to his credit. That, however, will not be his legacy. Not if a senior project goes as planned. Halzle is developing a coloring book for kids at The Children’s Hospital at the OU Medical Center. He hopes to use photographs of Sooner players, which will be turned into pictures that can be colored, then bound together. He wants to include quotes, too, words that would encourage and inspire children battling life-threatening illnesses. These are kids, after all, who touched Halzle’s heart. "It puts things in perspective,” he said of visiting The Children’s Hospital. "It’s a great experience to go and spend time.” Halzle made his first visit shortly after moving to Norman in 2006. He roomed that spring with Jacob Gutierrez, the former Sooner tailback known for his community service. Gutierrez encouraged Halzle to go with him to the hospital. "Just hang out,” he said. "Nothing specific. Just go down there and hang out a couple hours.” The pressure was minimal. The impact was not. "The kids love it,” Halzle said. When he learned that he needed to complete a service project for his Capstone class — a graduation requirement he must fulfill before receiving his management degree — he quickly thought of The Children’s Hospital. He figured he would just make a few more visits and consider it done. Then, his mother asked him about his project. "What about doing something different?” she asked. "What about a coloring book?” The project is still in the formative stages. Halzle is soliciting help from local businesses for the printing, the binding, even the crayons. He even sought help from The Oklahoman, asking permission to use photos for the book. Permission granted. News of the project didn’t surprise teammate and roommate Manny Johnson. The Sooner receiver considers Halzle a true team player. "Joey’s been here through summer workouts, through everything,” Johnson said. "He’s leading like he is the starting quarterback.” That’s no easy task as the backup. That has been Halzle’s lot since he became a Sooner, first behind Rhett Bomar, then Paul Thompson, now Sam Bradford. His only meaningful playing time came last season when Bradford suffered a concussion at Texas Tech, ironically the Sooners’ Senior Day opponent. That became a memorable game for all the wrong reasons. Halzle completed only 8 of 20 passes through three quarters and helped the Sooners dig a big hole. Even though he threw for 230 yards in the fourth quarter, it wasn’t enough to rally the Sooners, whose national title hopes disappeared into the West Texas night. "I’m sure there’s some people out there who view the Tech game as the game that I blew,” Halzle said. "I’m sure that there is, but the team, the guys, the coaches, no one has ever said anything along that line. "It’s been nothing but support since I got here.” It would be easy for Halzle to be surly or sore about how his college career has played out. Instead, he chooses to focus on the friendships he’s built and the memories he’s made. He will always look proudly, for example, on the back-to-back conference championship teams he played on. Does he think about how close he came to that starting spot? "It’s hard not to sometimes,” he admitted, "but can’t dwell on it like that because it’ll take you away from the positives that are going on. "You can’t live with the regret.” He quickly corrected himself. "Regret’s not right,” he said. "I’d only regret if I felt like I didn’t give my all or fight my hardest. But I don’t feel like that.” On the field, Joey Halzle may not have left much of a legacy, but he has done his darnedest to leave one off of it. Jenni Carlson: 475-3314. Jenni Carlson can be heard Monday-Friday from 3-6 p.m. on KEBC-AM 1340.
Texas Tech at Oklahoma
→When: 7 p.m. Saturday →Where: Gaylord Family — Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, Norman →TV: ABC (Cox 8) →Radio: KOKC-AM 1520, KRXO-FM 107.7