NORMAN — Norman High School's Zac Uhles signed a football letter of intent with the University of Tulsa on Wednesday morning. It was a day of celebration.
But it also was a little melancholy. The end of an era in Norman. A Uhles era.
Across town, Zac's cousin, Jaxon Uhles of Norman North, signed with Pittsburg State. Another cousin, Lance Uhles, just finished his playing career at Emporia State.
And now the Uhles run in Norman athletics is over, until this generation get families of their own.
“It'll be different,” said Rob Uhles, Zac's father. “It's be different for Grandma.”
Jequita Uhles was Norman's homecoming queen in 1952. Her younger brother, Dwight Johnson, quarterbacked Norman's 1961 state championship team.
Two of her sons, Rusty and Ric (Lance's father), were standout centers for Norman, Rusty on Norman's great 1975 and 1976 teams, and Ric in 1980 before going on to start at center for OU's 1985 national championship team.
Her other two sons, Rob and Ron, played baseball at Norman High. Jaxon is Ron's son.
Zac Uhles' grandfather, Charley North, coached Ric Uhles on that 1985 OU title team. So the Sooner bloodlines run deep.
But Uhles couldn't be happier about heading to TU.
“Very easy,” he said of the decision. “I had my heart set on it. Great set of coaches, academics, it's close enough, I can still see my family, but far enough I'm getting away.”
North said his grandson's future is bright. Uhles grew from 6-foot-1, 220 pounds as a sophomore to 6-4, 260 as a senior.
“He can play at 290, 300,” North said. “He's got a lot of room to put it on.
“If he did one thing that impressed me, he developed his feet. He could play center, guard or tackle.”
North said Tulsa wants Uhles to play center, but if he grows any taller, he might be moved to tackle.
“He's smart,” North said, “4.0 student, 30 on the math in the ACT. He makes all the calls, never busts. Tell him one thing coaching him, and it's done.”
North helped coach the Tigers the last two seasons and said it's the most pleasure he's ever had coaching.
North also is pleased with the quality of the TU coaching staff. Head coach Bill Blankenship is a favorite of most everyone who knows him, plus TU has several coaches with OU ties with whom North is well-acquainted.
Darnell Walker, who played cornerback when North coached at OU, recruited Uhles for the Golden Hurricane. Former Sooner assistant coach Denver Johnson is the TU offensive line coach, and former Sooner Calvin Thibodeaux is the defensive line coach.