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Texans dominate OU roster
OU football
State players have had share of success

By Jake Trotter Modified: August 3, 2008 at 12:20 am •  Published: August 3, 2008
For six months, Tulsa Union kicker Tress Way stood alone.

Way was the only native Oklahoman committed to the University of Oklahoma until three weeks before signing day, when Muskogee's Stacy McGee and Jameel Owens joined him.

The 2008 recruiting class represented a trend at both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, which combined to sign just six players from the state while at the same time bringing in 26 Texans.

Both schools have relied on Texas talent over the years. But recently, the ratio has skyrocketed.

OU's 2000 national championship team was comprised of 12 Oklahomans in the starting lineup, compared with just four Texans.

In 2008, Bob Stoops will start eight Texans and only six Oklahomans.

In fact, if the Sooners win the national championship this season, it will be the first time ever OU will have accomplished that feat using more Texans in the lineup than Oklahomans.

"There are more players in Texas, I understand that,” said Lawton MacArthur coach Ernie Manning, whose safety Javon Harris is one of only three Oklahomans committed for OU's 2009 class. "But if you get a good Oklahoma kid, they'll take you a long way.”

Oklahoma players did just that for Kansas coach Mark Mangino last season. The Jayhawks finished 12-1 and won the Orange Bowl starting five Oklahomans and having another 10 on the roster.

"There are good football players in the state of Oklahoma,” said first-year Nebraska coach Bo Pelini, whose starting middle linebacker, Phillip Dillard, is from Jenks.

But Dillard isn't the only Oklahoman to have success in Lincoln.

In 2006, quarterback Zac Taylor, of Norman, led the Cornhuskers to the Big 12 North title while earning Big 12 offensive player of the year honors.

"It's hard to get kids out of the state because of OU and Oklahoma State,” Pelini said. "But we're going to try and find the best football players we can.”

Dating back to when OU signed quarterback Jack Mildren out of Abilene, Texas, in the late 1960s, the Sooners have relied on a steady stream of talent out of the Lone Star State.

But Oklahoma players have always been the heart of the Sooner program.

Of the school's four Heisman Trophy winners, three hailed from Oklahoma: Billy Vessels (Cleveland, 1952), Steve Owens (Miami, 1969) and Jason White (Tuttle, 2003).

Of the Sooners' consensus All-Americans, 27 have come out of Oklahoma, while only 20 were from Texas.

And on OU's seven national championship teams, 61 of the starters were from Oklahoma and only 30 were Texans.

"These kids grow up in Oklahoma loving Oklahoma and Oklahoma State football,” Manning said. "They're going to play their hearts out. An out-of-state player might not have that same dedication to OU or OSU football. That goes a long ways. Maybe our kids get by with a little less talent, but they have a lot of heart. That's why I'm going to pick an Oklahoma kid.”

Two of OSU's biggest stars in the last decade, quarterback Josh Fields and wide receiver Rashaun Woods, grew up in Oklahoma. The duo led the Cowboys to a Cotton Bowl appearance in 2003, the school's best season since the 1980s.

"You can probably ask any coach in Oklahoma, and maybe I'm being biased, but I think Oklahoma kids are some of the best kids in the country,” said Kingfisher coach Jeff Myers, who coached former Sooner linebacker Curtis Lofton, now with the Atlanta Falcons.

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