NORMAN — Hayden Knighton watched the 2008 Bedlam football game on television and saw Sam Bradford pull his whirlybird stunt that became a signature moment in Bradford's Heisman Trophy season.
Knighton became a University of Oklahoma football fan then and there. Friday, the 9-year-old Knighton got to meet his heroes. He and his mother, Carole Knighton, came to OU's Meet the Sooners Day on the south campus rugby fields.
From their home in Pottstown, Pa., a Philadelphia suburb.
The Knightons were part of a crowd of 8,500 that stood in lines for autographs. Most fans went home happy with multiple signatures. The crowd was down from the chaotic scene of a year ago, when so many fans clamored for Bradford's signature that some went home autographless.
Hayden Knighton stood in the quarterback line to get autographs Friday, holding a sign that read "I Came From Philadelphia, Pa., to Meet the Sooners."
"I watched the Bedlam game (in 2008), saw Oklahoma play (and win 61-41), and I said, 'That's my team,'" Knighton said.
Knighton sold out to the Sooners, even cheering for OU in the 2009 NCAA basketball regional against North Carolina, even though his mother is a UNC graduate and the room he shares with his brother is decked out in Tar Heel memorabilia.
"He cheered against (UNC star) Tyler Hansbrough," Carole Knighton said. "Can you believe that?"
Carole Knighton works for an airline, so the trip was not a huge financial hit on her. Last year, a family wedding prevented the Knightons from attending Meet the Sooners Day. This year, her oldest son has to report to Holy Cross on Sunday to begin his college football career, but Carole already had promised Hayden they could take the trip to Norman.
They flew in Thursday, shopped some stores (Hayden plans to adorn his half of his room in Sooner stuff) and arrived at the rugby fields by 7 a.m. Friday. They got to meet and take a picture with Bob Stoops, who brought doughnuts and Sooners Jeremy Beal, Landry Jones, Travis Lewis and Ryan Broyles, who worked the lines signing autographs to thank the fans who showed up so early.
Carole Knighton said her son told Stoops of plans to move to the Oklahoma/Texas area so that Stoops can recruit him.