OU has had some success stories in the NFL, like Adrian Peterson, above, but have also had some NFL busts like Jason White, below left. Duke Robinson, below right, is projected to be a first- or second-rounder in this year’s draft. OKLAHOMAN AND AP PHOTOS
White, who had two surgically repaired knees, didn’t even get drafted, while Heupel was a sixth-round pick who got cut before the season started because of an injury.
Antonio Perkins was the 2003 All-America all-purpose player, the same spot filled by Reggie Bush and Maurice Jones-Drew the following two years, but never really made an impact in the NFL and played in only six games after being a fourth-round pick in 2005.
Derrick Strait, an All-America cornerback regarded as a standard-bearer in Norman, started only five games in his three seasons after being drafted in the third round in 2004.
The bottom line is that only the elite players make it in the NFL. Larry Birdine, a defensive end who had seven sacks in the Sooners’ run to the Orange Bowl five years ago, is now toiling away on the Tennessee Titans’ practice squad in hopes of making the roster.
"It’s fun but it’s a lot of work,” Birdine said. "You’ve definitely got to come prepared every day and be consistent if you plan to stay. All you need is a fair shot, and if you get that, the rest is up to you.”
Coming out of college, a first-round pedigree starts a career out in the right direction.
Of the eight first-round picks in the Stoops era, seven have become fixtures in their team’s starting lineup and the other, safety Andre Woolfolk, started 12 games in a four-year career plagued by injuries.