Norman Tigers football
|5 - 5||3 - 2||2 - 3||.500||306||281|
|2013-09-05||vs||Norman North||W||38 - 31|
|2013-09-13||vs||Moore||W||45 - 30|
|2013-09-20||@||Yukon||L||19 - 21|
|2013-09-27||@||Mustang||L||14 - 34|
|2013-10-04||vs||Edmond Memorial||L||14 - 38|
|2013-10-11||@||Choctaw||W||49 - 31|
|2013-10-18||vs||Southmoore||L||30 - 33|
|2013-10-25||@||Edmond Santa Fe||W||28 - 14|
|2013-11-01||vs||Putnam West||W||48 - 0|
|2013-11-08||@||Lawton||L||21 - 49|
|Rush Yds||Rush Yds Game||Pass Yds||Pass Yds/Game||Yards Total||Yards/Game||Pts Total||Pts/Game|
|Rush Yds Allow||Allow Rush/Game||Pass Yds Allow||Allow Pass/Game||Yds Total Allow||Yds Allow/Game||Allow Pts||Allow Pts/Game|
|Player Name||Number||Year||Height||Weight||Position (main)|
Norman football News
NewsOK articles about Norman football, or articles mentioning current or former Norman football players.
Norman High School Varsity Boys Football
He went into education after college, serving as head football coach at El Reno and Lawton high schools. Bodenhamer guided Lawton to state titles in 1962 and 1963. He was The Oklahoman's All-State Coach of the Year in '63.
Tributes: Former OU lineman Bob Bodenhamer dies at 88
By Scott Munn | May 23, 2016A farewell to people with Oklahoma ties who enjoyed the game day experience: *Bob Bodenhamer, 88, of Edmond. Starred in football, basketball, baseball and track at Waurika High School. The offensive lineman was an All-Stater who went on to play at Oklahoma. Bodenhamer's playing career was interrupted in 1945, when he was drafted into the Army. But after a year in the military, Bodenhamer returned to OU and helped the Sooners to a pair of Sugar Bowl wins. He went into education after college, serving as head football coach at El Reno and Lawton high schools. Bodenhamer guided Lawton to state titles in 1962 and 1963. He was The Oklahoman's All-State Coach of the Year in '63. *C.R. Sears, 90, of Oklahoma City. A devoted Sooners football fan who held season tickets for 69 years. He attended 64 OU-Texas games, though he missed one Red River battle, in 1952, when his daughter Melinda was born that weekend. Played golf in his spare time and had one of his dreams come true when Melinda organized a trip to The Masters in Augusta, Ga., in 2012. *Kayla Chappell, 23, of Oklahoma City practiced judo since age 7. The Westmoore High School graduate competed all over the world and had aspirations of making the Olympics. *Benny Allen, 69, of Edmond was a coach at Steed and Parkview elementary schools. *Pat Smittle, 93, of Wilson, N.C. The Tulsa native was an avid golfer who had three holes in one. Smittle was a fitness buff who ran 5-kilometer races into his 70s and biked into his 80s. A lover of baseball who visited every Major League stadium. Worked in marketing for Phillips Petroleum. *Dr. Dennis Portis III, 35, of Oklahoma City played basketball and golf for Millwood High School. He earned a Ph.D. in education administration in 2013. *John Miller Jr., 60, of Norman played church league softball. The retired squadron director for software maintenance at Tinker Air Force Base had a passion for sports, including OU, the St. Louis Cardinals and Oklahoma City Thunder. *Tommy Martin, 78, of Oklahoma City. He played high school basketball for his native Ash Grove, Mo. Martin worked for the U.S. Bureau of Prisons. *Joe Wilson, 95, of Cushing. He played high school football and baseball for the hometown Cushing Tigers. Before spending several years as timekeeper at Cushing football games, Wilson was a medic in the 45th infantry during World War II. Also worked for the U.S. Postal Service and the Tulsa Drillers baseball team. *Dennis Hampton, 61, of Oklahoma City played the trombone for the University of Oklahoma marching band on fall football Saturdays. He played church league softball and volleyball. A certified public accountant. *Walter Causey, 73, of Ada spent 40 years in coaching. He was an assistant football coach at McLoud, Depew and Shawnee. *Jess McCloud, 89, of Moore played football and basketball for Haileyville High School. After a 33-year career with the U.S. Postal Service, he spent 17 years working for the Broadmoore Golf Course. A devoted OU sports fan. He held football season tickets from 1971-2012. McCloud and wife Betty went on road trips to watch the Sooners, including stops in Stillwater, Dallas, Lincoln, Neb., and Columbia, Mo. *Jenetta Sumner, 80, of Shawnee was the wife of legendary St. Gregory's University coach Don Sumner. *Johnnie Duvall, 73, of Tulsa. Played football for Tulsa Edison High School and the University of Tulsa. He worked in the oil and gas industry. *Jack McCollum, 93 of Yukon was a Golden Gloves boxing champion. He was an upholsterer by trade and a Marine machine-gunner in the Pacific during World War II. *Sammy Ellis, 75, of Temple Terrace, Fla., spent one season playing baseball for the Tulsa Oilers. Ellis was at the tail end of his playing days, going 0-4 with a 6.55 ERA that season. Otherwise, he had a nice pro career. In 1965, he was a National League All-Star for the Cincinnati Reds. Ellis went 22-10 with 183 strikeouts that season. He had 15 complete games, a number unheard of in this age of big league ball. After his playing career, he was a pitching coach for several teams. *Bill Harrison Sr., 85, of Lindsay was a former sports reporter for the Daily O'Collegian, the student newspaper at Oklahoma State. *William Clover, 88, of Oklahoma City held OU season football tickets for more than 50 years. *Dick Sonnenfeld, 97, of Centennial, Colo. Grew up in Oklahoma City, where he excelled in gymnastics. He used those skills as a cheerleader at the University of Pittsburgh. Retired from Phillips Petroleum, Sonnenfeld could still do a handstand at age 80.
The Oklahoman's high school sports staff debuts its Super 30 football recruit rankings for the senior class of 2017:
The Oklahoman's Super 30 recruit rankings for 2017
By Scott Wright and Jacob Unruh Staff Writers | May 21, 2016[img width="" height="" style="" render="w620"]3928711[/img] The Oklahoman's high school sports staff debuts its Super 30 football recruit rankings for the senior class of 2017. [pagebreak] 30. Caleb Powell, DB, Oklahoma Christian Acacemy, 5-11, 180 An impressive athlete capable of playing multiple positions, Powell has offers from Navy and Cornell. [pagebreak] 29. Trey Gooch, QB, Putnam City West, 6-4, 210 [img width="" height="" style="" render="w620"]3868222[/img] The Pats’ gunslinger has plenty of interest from places like Wyoming, North Texas, Missouri State and others. [pagebreak] 28. Baron Odom, TE, Wynnewood, 6-4, 210 Starting the next round of prospects from the well-known Odom family, Baron has offers from Central Arkansas and Rice already. [pagebreak] 27. Keyshawn Shells, DB, John Marshall, 5-11, 205 [img width="" height="" style="" render="w620"]3783942[/img] Cornell has offered the hard-hitting safety who also sees time at running back for John Marshall. [pagebreak] 26. Cecil Cole, WR, Del City, 6-2, 175 [img width="" height="" style="" render="w620"]3832151[/img] Fresh off a track season that displayed his explosive speed, Cole has North Texas and Arkansas State in pursuit so far, with more to come. [pagebreak] 25. Charlie Kolar, TE, Norman North, 6-6, 220 [img width="" height="" style="" render="w620"]3882017[/img] The younger brother of Oklahoma State QB John Kolar, Charlie’s first offer came from Iowa State earlier this month. [pagebreak] 24. Kyrei Fisher, LB, Tulsa Union, 6-2, 220 After totaling 71 tackles last season, Fisher has seen his interest spike with offers from Kansas, Navy, SMU, Minnesota and Wyoming among others. Army became the latest Wednesday. [pagebreak] 23. Brock Appiah, DB, Edmond North, 6-0, 173 [img width="" height="" style="" render="w620"]4252752[/img] With his impressive speed that won the 200-meter dash state title, Appiah has come into his own this spring and has offers from Arkansas State, Central Arkansas and Toledo. [pagebreak] 22. Brandon George, QB, Jones, 6-1, 190 [img width="" height="" style="" render="w620"]3381267[/img] The dual-threat quarterback provides intriguing ability, which has led to offers from Boston College, Hawaii and North Texas among others. [pagebreak] 21. Shamari Brooks, RB, Tulsa Union, 5-9, 185 A backup to Tyler Adkins last season, Brooks still rushed for 1,154 yards and 16 touchdowns. He recently committed to Tulsa. [pagebreak] 20. Marcus Mays, DB, Tulsa Edison, 6-2, 170 Yet another lanky defensive back on the list, Mays has offers from Memphis, Wyoming and New Mexico. [pagebreak] 19. Garrett Flanary, DT, Lincoln Christian, 6-3, 273 [img width="" height="" style="" render="w620"]3968875[/img] A big lineman who helped Lincoln Christian make the Class 3A title game, Flanary has 14 offers, including Tulsa, Fresno State and San Diego State. [pagebreak] 18. Cade Mashburn, LB, Norman North, 6-2, 210 [img width="" height="" style="" render="w620"]3918937[/img] The anchor of the Timberwolves’ defense last season, Mashburn has more than a half-dozen offers so far, with Wyoming, Ohio, North Texas and Memphis among them. [pagebreak] 17. Rubell Goe, WR, McGuinness, 6-2, 185 [img width="" height="" style="" render="w620"]3845188[/img] One of the top receivers in the state, Goe has yet to pick up an offer, but plenty of schools have checked in this spring, including the service academies and Tulsa. [pagebreak] 16. Jordon Curtis, RB, Jenks, 6-0, 180 Regarded by many as the top running back in the class, Curtis has seven offers, including Illinois, Iowa State, Kansas and Texas Tech. [pagebreak] 15. Gervarrius Owens, DB, Southmoore, 6-1, 185 [img width="" height="" style="" render="w620"]3918938[/img] A ball hawk who isn’t afraid to hit from the safety position, Owens’ growing offer list includes the likes of Cincinnati, Kansas State, Iowa State, Memphis, Ohio and others. [pagebreak] 14. Reese Leitao, TE, Jenks, 6-4, 230 A big target, colleges are looking to just land his commitment before deciding if he’s a true tight end. He has 13 offers, including OSU, Iowa State, Kansas State, Nebraska, Purdue and Minnesota. [pagebreak] 13. Kamren Curl, DB, Muskogee, 6-2, 180 His size and speed instantly stand out, which is why he has 14 scholarship offers ranging from Illinois to Kansas to Tulsa. [pagebreak] 12. Evan Fields, DB, Midwest City, 6-2, 190 A safety prospect with a strong size and speed combination, Fields continues to blossom on the recruiting scene. [pagebreak] 11. Brock Martin, DE, Oologah, 6-4, 220 An animal up front, Martin had 16 sacks last season and already has 30 on his career. He has offers from Baylor, Kansas, Texas Tech and Wyoming. [pagebreak] 10. Brendon Evers, DT, Bixby, 6-2, 285 A powerful defensive tackle, Evers was a sought-after target of Oklahoma State’ DL coach Joe Bob Clements, who earned Evers’ commitment in March. [pagebreak] 9. Quindon Lewis, WR/DB, Southmoore, 6-2, 165 [img width="" height="" style="" render="w620"]3918951[/img] A superb athlete with good ball skills and a long body, Lewis emerged as a gifted playmaker last season. [pagebreak] 8. Creed Humphrey, OL, Shawnee, 6-4, 290 A long list of suitors includes OU, Texas, Texas A&M, Tulsa, Virginia Tech, Kansas State, Arizona State and many others. [pagebreak] 7. Deontre Thomas, DT, Mustang, 6-2, 260 Thomas’ speed and technique, along with a frame that can hold more weight, attracted several programs. He recently committed to Nebraska over Michigan. [pagebreak] 6. Adrian Wolford, OL, Meeker, 6-5, 315 Wolford put a quick halt to his recruitment early when he committed to OSU, but he still has offers from Colorado State, Texas A&M and Tulsa. [pagebreak] 5. Nick Robinson, WR/TE, Putnam City West, 6-4, 215 Viewed as a receiver prospect by most schools, Robinson has named his top 10 options: Baylor, Cincinnati, Houston, Louisville, Memphis, Mississippi State, Missouri, Oklahoma State, Tennessee and Texas A&M. [pagebreak] 4. Isaiah Thomas, DE, Tulsa Memorial, 6-5, 230 The big defensive lineman has a plethora of offers, including Alabama, OU, OSU, Baylor, Tennessee and Texas A&M. [pagebreak] 3. Tre Brown, DB, Tulsa Union, 5-11, 180 One more nationally ranked in-state score for OU, all on the defensive side. Brown is a versatile defensive back with a lot of experience. [pagebreak] 2. Levi Draper, LB, Collinsville, 6-2, 215 [img width="" height="" style="" render="w620"]3969376[/img] An early target by many recruiters, he remains committed to OU after initially choosing OSU. [pagebreak] 1. Justin Broiles, DB, John Marshall, 6-0, 170 [img width="" height="" style="" render="w620"]3919045[/img] Exploded on the recruiting scene after showcasing his speed and skills at camps, including the U.S. Army All-America Combine, then committed to Oklahoma in March.
The daughters of former Putnam City West football star Mike Cutter have organized an event to raise money and awareness for ALS.Cutter was diagnosed with the condition, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, in January.Cutter starred for the Putnam City West teams of coach Mike Little, including the 1981 state championship team. Cutter was selected as The Oklahoman's All-State Back of the Year...
Prep Parade: Former PC West star Mike Cutter battling ALS; family planning benefit walk
Scott Wright, Associated Press | May 18, 2016The daughters of former Putnam City West football star Mike Cutter have organized an event to raise money and awareness for ALS. Cutter was diagnosed with the condition, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, in January. Cutter starred for the Putnam City West teams of coach Mike Little, including the 1981 state championship team. Cutter was selected as The Oklahoman's All-State Back of the Year after rushing for more than 1,800 yards and 24 touchdowns that season. The event will be held Sunday at Independence Charter Middle School, 3232 Northwest 65th Street in Oklahoma City. Activities will include live music, a bounce house, games, face painting and other attractions before the one-mile walk. Participants are asked to donate a minimum of $10. Activities will begin at 1 p.m., with the walk to start at 2 p.m. All proceeds from the event will go to the ALS Association for research purposes. Additional information can be found at Facebook.com/WERECUTTERSTRONG. BASKETBALL STARS SPEIGHT, DICKINSON FIND COLLEGE HOMES In terms of college prospects, the boys basketball class of 2016 was one of the deepest the Oklahoma City area has produced in years, and more evidence of that came this week. Norman North's Marcus Dickinson Jr. and Putnam City North's Micah Speight each signed letters of intent this week, solidifying their college futures. Dickinson signed with Boise State on Wednesday, following a senior season in which he averaged 22.7 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists while shooting 57.5 percent from the field. Speight, who had a Division I offer, chose to stay close to home and signed with Southern Nazarene, just down the street in Bethany. Speight averaged 22.1 points, 4.8 assists and 4.3 rebounds for the Panthers, leading them to their first state tournament appearance since 2008. LEGENDARY COACH JOE TUNNELL RECEIVES NATIONAL AWARD Legendary Rush Springs football coach Joe Tunnell was recently named the recipient of the Dwight T. Keith Award from the National High School Athletic Coaches Association. The award is named for Dwight Keith, a founding member of the NHSACA who served as the association's executive director from 1965-73. The award is the highest honor presented by the NHSACA, given to a person who has made an outstanding contribution to high school athletics or the coaching profession. Tunnell won 322 games in his career, including two state championships at Rush Springs. Since retiring in 2000, Tunnell has been heavily involved with the Oklahoma Coaches Association. CAPITOL HILL'S ZACHERY BIBB SIGNS WRESTLING LETTER Capitol Hill senior Zachery Bibb has turned a couple of strong seasons of wrestling into a college opportunity. Bibb, who placed in the top four at state the last two seasons, signed his letter of intent with Otero Junior College in La Junta, Colo., earlier this month. Bibb was fourth in Class 6A this past season, following a runner-up finish in Class 5A as a junior. TULSA UNION'S GOINS WINS GATORADE AWARD Tulsa Union standout Parker Goins was named the Gatorade Oklahoma Girls Soccer Player of the Year, the organization announced this week. Goins, a 5-foot-8 junior, had 10 goals and eight assists during Union's 19-0 season as Class 6A champ. She had two goals and an assist in the championship win over Owasso. She was an All-America selection by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America and is a member of the U.S. Under-18 Women's National Team. COLLEGE POSTCARD: MCGUINNESS GRAD CANFIELD HONORED Newman University sophomore Brian Canfield was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District first team, it was recently announced. The McGuinness graduate was selected from District 6, which includes teams from the Heartland, Lone Star and Rocky Mountain conferences. A biology major, Canfield had a 3.93 grade-point average. A third baseman on the baseball team, he batted .314 with 11 doubles, a home run and 28 runs batted in over 44 games. ——— ©2016 The Oklahoman Visit The Oklahoman at www.newsok.com Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC. _____ Topics: g000362661,g000065603,g000066164
May 18, 2016
Cutter was diagnosed with the condition, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, in January.
Prep Parade: Former PC West star Mike Cutter battling ALS; family planning benefit walk
By Scott Wright Staff Writer firstname.lastname@example.org | May 18, 2016The daughters of former Putnam City West football star Mike Cutter have organized an event to raise money and awareness for ALS. Cutter was diagnosed with the condition, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, in January. Cutter starred for the Putnam City West teams of coach Mike Little, including the 1981 state championship team. Cutter was selected as The Oklahoman's All-State Back of the Year after rushing for more than 1,800 yards and 24 touchdowns that season. The event will be held Sunday at Independence Charter Middle School, 3232 Northwest 65th Street in Oklahoma City. Activities will include live music, a bounce house, games, face painting and other attractions before the one-mile walk. Participants are asked to donate a minimum of $10. Activities will begin at 1 p.m., with the walk to start at 2 p.m. All proceeds from the event will go to the ALS Association for research purposes. Additional information can be found at Facebook.com/WERECUTTERSTRONG. BASKETBALL STARS SPEIGHT, DICKINSON FIND COLLEGE HOMES In terms of college prospects, the boys basketball class of 2016 was one of the deepest the Oklahoma City area has produced in years, and more evidence of that came this week. Norman North's Marcus Dickinson Jr. and Putnam City North's Micah Speight each signed letters of intent this week, solidifying their college futures. Dickinson signed with Boise State on Wednesday, following a senior season in which he averaged 22.7 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists while shooting 57.5 percent from the field. Speight, who had a Division I offer, chose to stay close to home and signed with Southern Nazarene, just down the street in Bethany. Speight averaged 22.1 points, 4.8 assists and 4.3 rebounds for the Panthers, leading them to their first state tournament appearance since 2008. LEGENDARY COACH JOE TUNNELL RECEIVES NATIONAL AWARD Legendary Rush Springs football coach Joe Tunnell was recently named the recipient of the Dwight T. Keith Award from the National High School Athletic Coaches Association. The award is named for Dwight Keith, a founding member of the NHSACA who served as the association's executive director from 1965-73. The award is the highest honor presented by the NHSACA, given to a person who has made an outstanding contribution to high school athletics or the coaching profession. Tunnell won 322 games in his career, including two state championships at Rush Springs. Since retiring in 2000, Tunnell has been heavily involved with the Oklahoma Coaches Association. CAPITOL HILL'S ZACHERY BIBB SIGNS WRESTLING LETTER Capitol Hill senior Zachery Bibb has turned a couple of strong seasons of wrestling into a college opportunity. Bibb, who placed in the top four at state the last two seasons, signed his letter of intent with Otero Junior College in La Junta, Colo., earlier this month. Bibb was fourth in Class 6A this past season, following a runner-up finish in Class 5A as a junior. TULSA UNION'S GOINS WINS GATORADE AWARD Tulsa Union standout Parker Goins was named the Gatorade Oklahoma Girls Soccer Player of the Year, the organization announced this week. Goins, a 5-foot-8 junior, had 10 goals and eight assists during Union's 19-0 season as Class 6A champ. She had two goals and an assist in the championship win over Owasso. She was an All-America selection by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America and is a member of the U.S. Under-18 Women's National Team. COLLEGE POSTCARD: MCGUINNESS GRAD CANFIELD HONORED Newman University sophomore Brian Canfield was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District first team, it was recently announced. The McGuinness graduate was selected from District 6, which includes teams from the Heartland, Lone Star and Rocky Mountain conferences. A biology major, Canfield had a 3.93 grade-point average. A third baseman on the baseball team, he batted .314 with 11 doubles, a home run and 28 runs batted in over 44 games.
May 18, 2016
When you work in media, it’s always better to travel East than to travel West. Let me explain. I usually get up around 7 a.m. Tuesday, I felt lousy and didn’t sleep much; I was up at 3:30 a.m., so it didn’t matter much. But when I wake up at 7 a.m., I can get often get a couple of blogs written before the day gets too far down the road. In California, if I wake up at 7 a.m., that’s 9 a.m....
Oakland travelblog: Winford Boynes' gym & Burmese food
Berry Tramel | May 18, 2016[img width="" height="" style="" render="w620"]4258894[/img]When you work in media, it’s always better to travel East than to travel West. Let me explain. I usually get up around 7 a.m. Tuesday, I felt lousy and didn’t sleep much; I was up at 3:30 a.m., so it didn’t matter much. But when I wake up at 7 a.m., I can get often get a couple of blogs written before the day gets too far down the road. In California, if I wake up at 7 a.m., that’s 9 a.m. Oklahoma time. I’m already behind schedule. Another example: the Thunder practice was set for noon Tuesday at the University of San Francisco. We were told to arrive around 12:45 p.m. But the Thunder arrived late – San Fran traffic can slow even Russell Westbrook – and thus practiced late, and the media didn’t even enter the gym until about 1:30 p.m. We didn’t finish our interviews until after 2 p.m. Which means after 4 p.m. Oklahoma time. We were a massive traffic jam away from our hotel, we hadn’t even eaten lunch, and yet the clock was ticking on deadline. If you’re in New York or Florida, the same clock would have been a little after 1 p.m. Oklahoma time, and we would have been golden. Out West, we’re scrambling. Now, there are benefits. Like a better social schedule. You can work literally up to drop-dead deadline for the first edition, 10 p.m., and it’s still light outside. But we’re not here to have nice dinners. We’re here to work. It’s much better to work back East. Still, Tuesday was an interesting day. Here’s what happened. MORNING IN OAKLAND Like I said, I was feeling blah, so I headed out early and walked to a Walgreen’s in downtown Oakland. Bought some Excedrin Migraine, a half gallon of orange juice and two morning papers. All three did me a world of good. Excedrin Migraine is just about the only drug I’ll take. Stops headaches, helps combat fevers and makes me feel better almost immediately. I carry a bottle with me everywhere I go, but I was almost out, so I needed to restock. I drink orange juice in bulk when I feel a cold coming on. I have no idea if it helps. But last I heard, we hadn’t cured the common cold, so that’s my best remedy. As for the papers, I used to buy papers in every town I visited. I’m like everyone else in America, I got out of the habit. You can read so much online, there’s no time to add more reading. I read The Oklahoman and the Norman Transcript every day back home, then keep up with them online while I’m on the road. But there’s still nothing like buying the local papers and holding it in your hand. See how they treat the home team. See their big headlines and photos. See how they celebrate a big win or commiserate a disappointing defeat. I bought the San Francisco Chronicle and the East Bay Times. The latter is a merger of the San Jose Mercury News and the Oakland Tribune and some other area papers. The newspaper business has been hit hard in Silicon Valley, where everybody is attached to their electronics. But a newspaper still can unite a community like no Star Trek devices can. Great writing and great display and great information still exist in America’s newspapers, delivered in a format that creates a communal bond. Newspapers helped make America great, and newspapers are not only part of our past, they will be part of our future. Like I said, our hotel in downtown Oakland is on the edge of Chinatown. I went the opposite direction, and there, downtown Oakland seemed like most major downtowns. A little more urban than, say, Oklahoma City, where I don’t think I could find a Walgreen’s near our office. Downtown Oakland was not bustling with activity, but there were plenty of people on the streets. WARRIORS STRANGE HOME The Warriors’ media availability was at 11:15 a.m., and we are staying one block from Golden State’s headquarters. The Warriors’ home is on the fifth floor of the Oakland Convention Center, which is attached to the Marriott Hotel. Think of it this way. It’s as if the Thunder played its games at the Fairgrounds and it practiced at the top of the Cox Center. All seemed very strange. But on the fifth floor of the Oakland Convention Center are basketball offices and a huge gymnasium. The media turnout for the Warriors was out of control. Dozens and dozens of reporters and cameras. I didn’t really need anything from Golden State, but A.C. Slater and Erik Horne joined the scrum and got in a question or two. The Warriors do like the Thunder does; brings one player at a time, which means a horde of 30-40 people scramble for real estate to get close enough to the ballplayers to get in a question or get them on camera. It’s a total mess. There’s got to be a better way. Our drop dead departure time was 11:45, so we scurried away about 11:46, went downstairs and photographer Nate Billings picked us up in the rental car in front of the Marriott. It was time to drive across the Bay Bridge. WINFORD BOYNES GYM The Thunder practiced at USF, which has many an Oklahoma basketball tie. Bill Russell and K.C. Jones led the Dons to NCAA titles in 1955 and 1956, during which they won the All-College in OKC. Eddie Sutton came out of retirement to coach USF the latter half of 2007-08 and reach 800 wins. And in 1975, Winford Boynes signed with USF. Boynes, from Capitol Hill, was one of the greatest players ever from Oklahoma City. He and Bill Cartwright signed with the Dons, who hoped to stage a revival of the great NCAA title teams. It never really came to pass. USF was great during the Boynes/Cartwright years but never NCAA Tournament noise. Cartwright played many years in the NBA, but Boynes lasted just three years. I’ve tried for years to find Boynes, but have no idea where he is these days. Russell and Jones did not play in Memorial Gym, where the Thunder practiced. It opened in 1958. Russell and Jones played their home games at Kezar Pavilion in Golden Gate Park or at St. Ignatius High School. But Boynes and Cartwright played at Memorial Gym, and Sutton coached there. USF is in the West Coast Conference and hasn’t done much in hoops for decades. Still, it was cool to be at the home of one of the interesting schools in college basketball history. A ton of media was at Thunder practice, and the Thunder was late, so we all stood around for an hour. So did the Dons, who were waiting for a pickup game. Long-time NBA star Mike Bibby was there, too, with his son on a recruiting trip. It appeared that Bibby and his son were waiting to play also. Even after the media was allowed in the gym, the Thunder security staff monitored the gym and ejected a couple of on-lookers. The security even questioned Bibby but allowed him to stay. Bibby and Billy Donovan eventually had a nice conversation. Doesn’t seem like that long ago that Bibby was the Sacramento Kings’ point guard, but he led Arizona to the NCAA title in 1997. The USF campus is in the hilly section of north San Francisco and is quite picturesque. We found parking, luckily, about two blocks away. In San Francisco, you’re always scrambling for parking. AMERICA’S GREATEST VIEW Time was of the essence when we left USF. A.C.’s communicator told him it was about a 45-minute drive to Oakland going back through the city and the same by sweeping up over the Golden Gate Bridge, into Marin County, and crossing back over the Richmond Bridge, going through Berkeley and into Oakland. We decided the latter, since Erik never had been across the Golden Gate. And we weren’t disappointed. The Golden Gate Bridge is one of those stunning marvels of American architecture. The bridge is not gold – Golden Gate refers to the gateway of the Pacific; it’s where San Francisco Bay meets the ocean – but reddish/orange. It was built in 1937, spanning 1.7 miles across the channel where the bay meets the Pacific. After you cross the Golden Gate, you can pull over for a scenic overlook just on the east, or you can exit the highway, go through a short tunnel and drive up the Marin Headlands, huge hills on the west that provide an even more stunning view. A.C. drove us up the Marin Headlines, about a three-minute drive. Hundreds of people had gone up for the view, from which you can see the mighty Pacific, and you can look down onto the Golden Gate Bridge, and you can see the magnificent city on the hill, all with Alcatraz right in the middle. It ranks with the best views in America. Let’s see. Coming across the Queensboro Bridge into Manhattan, emerging from the Fort Pitt Tunnel to see the glittering city of Pittsburgh, the view of the Chicago skyline from a boat on Lake Michigan. Lots of great views of American cities. But the Marin County view of San Francisco might rank No. 1. After we got back on the highway, we stopped by In-N-Out Burger – we had two Californians in the car, what else were we going to do? – and ate it on the road. We drove past San Quentin, California’s maximum security prison, which sits right on the water, on the north side of San Francisco Bay. It made me wonder, why is a notorious state prison – or any kind of state prison – on some of the most valuable real estate in California? It makes no sense. Why wouldn’t California long ago have sold off the land to developers? It has to be worth billions. Think of Big Mac in McAlester sitting on the edge of Grand Lake, or along the Bricktown Canal, or on the edge of OU’s campus, or along the Arkansas River on the edge of downtown Tulsa. That would be absurd. Anyway, we zipped back through Berkeley – didn’t get to see much of anything – on the interstate, pulled into Oakland, went to the hotel and got to work. I sent my column a little before 6 p.m., which is 8 p.m. Oklahoma time. Too late, but I don’t know what I could have done about it. BURMESE FOOD IN ALAMEDA For dinner, Avi Yadav drove up from Santa Clara and took me to dinner. Avi is the big OU fan I told you about yesterday. Came from India and enrolled in OCU’s graduate school in 1997, got a master’s degree and worked two years at the Williams Company in Tulsa. Four years in Oklahoma and considers himself a Sooner for life. Avi has been in Silicon Valley for 15 years and now works for Oracle, the mega-software company. I met Avi and three of his friends from India – they went to college together in India, then reconnected in the Bay Area – at the game Monday night. Avi invited me to dinner Tuesday, so he picked me up around 7:45 p.m. California time. We drove over to Alameda, a suburb near downtown Oakland, and ate at Burma Superstar. Downtown Alameda is a quaint strip of eclectic restaurants and shops. Reminded me of one of Chicago’s great neighborhoods. Tons of people everywhere, walking the streets, having a good time. Not at all what I expected. I never had eaten Burmese food. Burma, a nation in Southeast Asia, now is called Myanmar. Avi likened Burmese food to a cross between Thai, Indian and Chinese. We had three chicken dishes – mint chicken, salt and pepper chicken, and chicken with fresh basil – and all three were good. A little spicy, but not too much. I enjoyed it. Had some rice with it. All in all, a good meal. And I got to know Avi more. Super fellow. Huge sports fan. Got to America, had always followed cricket and soon realized he would have to adapt. Avi got a job delivering pizza, and he found that on Saturdays and Sundays, people were always congregating, watching football. So he joined in. Now he’s a huge football and basketball fan. Loves the Sooners, loves the Thunder, loves the Warriors. His daughters, 9 and 10, play golf on the junior circuit. I learned a lot about India. One third the land size of the U.S., four times the population. Yavi said San Francisco seems spread out compared to the density of India’s many major cities, which number upwards of 10 million population. REFEREE ON THE ELEVATOR I got back to the hotel around 9:30 p.m., and a familiar-looking face followed me in and got on the elevator with me. I thought it might be someone I had seen around the arena, covering the playoffs. So I asked the guy if he was NBA media. Nope, he said. He was a referee. It was Kane Fitzgerald, who will be calling Game 2 Wednesday night. Over the years, during the playoffs, we’ve frequently run into refs. Almost all have been personable. We had a short chat, then he got off on the third floor. I was ready to crash.
The next Jimmy Graham? Why former basketball player Rico Gathers was too good for Cowboys to pass up
IRVING, Texas — With seconds remaining in the first half of a Baylor basketball game two months ago, Rico Gathers showed why a future in the NFL might be more likely than one in the NBA.The Bears had the ball out of bounds near Oklahoma’s basket, looking for a quick catch-and-shoot. A three-quarters court pass to Gathers was executed perfectly. In one motion, the 6-6, 273-pound power forward...
The next Jimmy Graham? Why former basketball player Rico Gathers was too good for Cowboys to pass up
By Jon Machota, Associated Press | May 15, 2016IRVING, Texas — With seconds remaining in the first half of a Baylor basketball game two months ago, Rico Gathers showed why a future in the NFL might be more likely than one in the NBA. The Bears had the ball out of bounds near Oklahoma’s basket, looking for a quick catch-and-shoot. A three-quarters court pass to Gathers was executed perfectly. In one motion, the 6-6, 273-pound power forward out-jumped two defenders, caught the ball at its highest point, then quickly passed to an open teammate for a 3-pointer at the buzzer. Greg Gathers, Rico’s brother and a former All-America defensive end at Georgia Tech, saw the play and immediately said to himself: “Man, he looked like a tight end going up and catching the ball.” Said Baylor basketball coach Scott Drew: “When you see that catch, you’re like, ‘Yeah, he can go down and get a touchdown.’ “At 6-6 and a half, you’re not one of the best rebounders in the country unless you got a nose for the ball and a toughness to get it. I know the NFL has a lot of tough guys, too, but not a lot of them have that kind of wingspan and athleticism and size to go with it.” Sixty days after he made that catch in Norman, the Cowboys selected Gathers as a tight end with the 217th overall pick in the NFL draft. ——— Entering his senior season last September, Gathers made what he calls “pretty much the first grown-man decision” of his life. He purchased cleats and told his brother that he was running football drills for the first time since eighth grade. His brother thought it was a joke. But after seeing Rico in action, Greg was convinced. “I personally have to tip my hat to him,” Greg said, “because it was a bold move.” Next came sharing the news with Drew. Gathers, 22, said he walked into Drew’s office and explained that after the upcoming basketball season he was planning a run at the NFL. “He thought I was crazy,” Gathers said. “He probably thought I was coming in to talk about what to expect for the season. I had to be real up front with him about what was on my mind.” Even though Gathers hadn’t played football since he was 13, Drew knew a return was always possible. NFL scouts had reached out to the Baylor coach to gauge whether Gathers might eventually have interest in the sport. Gathers said the decision came down to the next 10 to 15 years of his life, what he considers his window as a professional athlete. He likes his chances of making it in the NFL as an athletic, pass-catching tight end more than his odds of having a long NBA career as an undersized power forward. ——— Gathers averaged 11.2 points and 8.9 rebounds during his senior season, helping the Bears earn an NCAA tournament berth. A 79-75 loss to Yale in their NCAA tournament opener on March 17 marked the beginning of Gathers’ transformation to professional football player. Vann McElroy, Gathers’ agent, set him up with longtime NFL tight ends coach Art Valero and former NFL safety Ryan Clark. They organized workouts for Gathers in Baton Rouge. Both spoke highly of those sessions to Cowboys assistant offensive line coach Steve Loney. UTEP basketball coach Tim Floyd did the same. Earlier in the year, Floyd gave Loney a list of three college basketball players who he thought had a chance to play in the NFL. Gathers’ name was on it. Loney got to see for himself during a private workout in April. Four days later, Gathers held a pro day in New Orleans. Personnel from 25 NFL teams were reportedly in attendance. Gathers’ best 40-time was reported at 4.75 seconds. He also posted a nine-foot, seven-inch broad jump and a 4.56-second short shuttle run. His 40-time would’ve placed him seventh among tight ends at this year’s scouting combine. His broad jump would’ve been eighth among players at the position. Two things stood out to Loney from that day: How much Gathers improved in less than a week and that a 280-pound Gathers had only 10 percent body fat. “After the workout,” his brother said, “it became a thing of he’s not a basketball player trying to play football, he was more of a football player that was playing basketball.” ——— Gathers got the call from the Cowboys while watching the final day of the NFL draft at his brother’s home in New Orleans. After talking with owner Jerry Jones and head coach Jason Garrett, the phone was passed to offensive coordinator Scott Linehan. “You don’t have three (seconds) in the key here,” Linehan said. “You can stay in there as long as you want now, buddy.” The Cowboys did not have a seventh-round pick. They used their final selection on Gathers because they were afraid he wouldn’t make it to free agency. It was either take him in the sixth or risk losing him to another team in the seventh. Without any high school or college experience, Gathers’ NFL success is extremely difficult to predict. The Cowboys haven’t even seen him in pads. But they also didn’t want to gamble with losing a prospect who could potentially become the next Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates or Jimmy Graham, college basketball players turned All-Pro tight ends. Of course, Gonzalez and Graham played football in college and Gates at least played in high school. “I’m not saying he is going to be one of those guys, but he has the traits,” Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said. “The other thing is, he is a little thicker. I think he can be a ‘Y’ tight end for us as well, play (on the line), a little bit like Martellus Bennett was for us. Long arms, big hands, he’s just a big man. We liked what we saw, and really feel like, with our situation, he is a good fit for us.” If nothing else, Gathers sees himself as someone who can immediately help in red zone situations, catching end zone jump balls over smaller defensive backs. “I know one thing,” Drew said, “if they’re down seven with a second to go and they’re throwing it up in the end zone, there’s a good chance that guy is coming down with it.” (EDITORS: STORY CAN END HERE) ——— Loney and tight ends coach Mike Pope are in charge of turning this raw prospect into an NFL player. Asked if he’s ever taken on a project like this, Pope joked that he’s been married twice, “so I’ve taken on some projects.” “This is going to be a new chapter in my book,” Loney said. “To say I know what his chances are, I don’t know that. But I do know physically that he has the tools that you would want to see in a player. The one thing he can’t do is he can’t get discouraged.” After the first rookie minicamp practice last week, Gathers said to Loney: “Boy, those plays come at you at a fast pace.” Pope noted that Gathers is used to playing with nine others on a basketball court, so it’s going to take time to get comfortable with 22 players on a football field. Gathers said he has recently received “good insight” about life in the NFL from conversations with Robert Griffin III, the former Baylor Heisman Trophy winner and Cleveland Browns quarterback. The Cowboys plan to give Gathers every opportunity to succeed at tight end, hoping that Loney, Pope and 10-time Pro Bowl tight end Jason Witten can get him headed in the right direction. But both the Cowboys and Gathers have acknowledged that if tight end doesn’t work out, a move to defensive end could be a possibility. “If it was easy then everybody would be doing it,” Gathers said. “I took this challenge last year in September, and I stuck with it. Now I’m here, and I’m ready to take whatever adversity comes my way, because I know there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.” ——— Rico Gathers is trying to make the transition from a forward at Baylor to tight end in the NFL. Here’s how three prominent tight ends who also played college basketball fared in their rookie years: ——— Player—Games—Receptions—Yards—Touchdowns Tony Gonzalez (1997)—16—33—368—2 Antonio Gates (2003)—15—24—389—2 Jimmy Graham (2010)—15—31—356—5 ——— ©2016 The Dallas Morning News Visit The Dallas Morning News at www.dallasnews.com Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC. ————— ARCHIVE PHOTOS on Tribune News Service (for help with images, contact 312-222-4194): Rico Gathers _____ Topics: t000046469,t000003194,t000003183,t000007123,t000007067,t000007083,t000003195,t000003277,t000003278,t000040506,t000391277,t000404471,t000007075,t000007065,t000007103,t000008056
May 14, 2016
Except for a brief stretch early in the second half, Heritage Hall controlled the action against McGuinness, outshooting the Fighting Irish 21-11 and limiting their explosive forward, Matteo Hernandez, to only two shots. Hernandez entered the game with 47 goals on the season.
Class 5A boys soccer: Heritage Hall rolls to 4-1 win over McGuinness
By Murray Evans For The Oklahoman | May 14, 2016Not that Heritage Hall was confident or anything, but parents of the Chargers came to Taft Stadium on Saturday afternoon with state championship T-shirts for the players, ready to hand out once the Class 5A boys soccer championship game ended. They had reason for that confidence, as the Chargers rolled to a 4-1 win over Bishop McGuinness behind two goals by senior Lamar Batista. The win capped a four-year run during which the Chargers went 66-2 with three state championships — the first in boys soccer in Heritage Hall history. Heritage Hall posted its third 17-0 season in four years, with the Chargers' only losses during that span coming to Class 6A Norman and Deer Creek last season, the latter in the 5A title game in a shootout. The Chargers are ranked No. 6 nationally in the USA Today/NSCAA Super 25 coaches' poll and No. 9 in the SIMA Fab 50 produced by Top Drawer Soccer. “There aren't many teams around the high school scene that can say they've gone 66-2,” Heritage Hall coach Tommy Riley said. “It's a fantastic group of seniors. Amazing attitude. Good role models for our younger kids, and fighters. They are amazing. It's a dream come true for any coach.” Batista said the family atmosphere around the program played a key role in the Chargers' success. “We all do many activities together, other than soccer,” he said. “It's a great atmosphere, great environment. We all love each other. These (state titles) do not get old.” Except for a brief stretch early in the second half, Heritage Hall controlled the action against McGuinness (14-5), outshooting the Fighting Irish 21-11 and limiting their explosive forward, Matteo Hernandez, to only two shots. Hernandez entered the game with 47 goals on the season. Batista, who's signed with California-Santa Barbara, mostly plays a defensive position for the Chargers, but he was an offensive focal point on Saturday. His first goal came in the 14th minute, a header off a long pass from Kian Rahmanzadeh that beat McGuinness goalkeeper Trevor Raczkowski. “Kian's had a great season,” Batista said. “Every ball has been perfect this year. I can't thank him enough.” Raczkowski was called for a handball outside the penalty box in the 24th minute and Batista made the Irish pay, curling a free kick from 24 yards out into the upper right corner of the goal to make it 2-0. It was his 13th goal of the season. He nearly made it a hat trick before halftime, but Raczkowski made a diving save of another header that appeared destined for the goal. “The header was amazing and the free kick was almost as good,” Riley said. Senior forward Garrett McLaughlin, the Southern Methodist-bound two-time Gatorade state player of the year, scored 29 seconds into the second half, taking a pass from Tevin McDaniel and beating Raczkowski for his 37th goal of the season. Twenty-two seconds later, Jackson Goetzinger headed home a pass from Brennan Mullins to pull McGuinness within 3-1, and the Irish had a brief flurry that produced a couple of other scoring chances, but couldn't get another shot past Heritage Hall goalkeeper Gavin Gordon, who had five saves. Raczkowski also had five saves for the Irish. McDaniel — who's headed to Air Force to play football — ended all doubt in the 65th minute, taking a pass from Rahmanzadeh and putting a left-footed shot from about 10 yards into the goal.
MOORE — The Class 5A and 6A state track meets are scheduled to begin with field events at 10 a.m. Friday at Moore Stadium. Running events will follow at noon. The schedule will be the same for Saturday's finals. Here are some Oklahoma City-area athletes to keep an eye on: Class 6A BOYS Brock Appiah and Jordan Prince, Edmond North: A dangerously fast duo with Appiah in the sprints and Prince in...
Class 5A/6A state track meets: Athletes to watch
By Scott Wright Staff Writer email@example.com | May 12, 2016MOORE — The Class 5A and 6A state track meets are scheduled to begin with field events at 10 a.m. Friday at Moore Stadium. Running events will follow at noon. The schedule will be the same for Saturday's finals. Here are some Oklahoma City-area athletes to keep an eye on: Class 6A BOYS Brock Appiah and Jordan Prince, Edmond North: A dangerously fast duo with Appiah in the sprints and Prince in the 300 hurdles. Ean Beyer, Norman North: Last fall's cross country champion continues to find success in the distance events. Howard Douglass, Midwest City: A sophomore, Douglass challenged the 100-meter state record earlier this year. Patrick Larrison, Moore: The sophomore burst onto the scene and has been nearly unbeatable in the throwing events. Zach Mauck, Edmond Memorial: One of several Bulldogs with a chance to win as they look to contend for the team crown. Kyle Sander, Deer Creek: Consistently among the state's best 300 hurdlers. Vernon Turner, Yukon: The state’s new record-holder in the high jump at 7-4, which is the top mark by a high school athlete nationally this year.. GIRLS Whitney Bridges, Southmoore: The sophomore has gone below 12 seconds in the 100 meters, where she will try to defend her title. Jasmine Exum, Edmond North: Look for her to contend for medals in both hurdle events. Marisa Fleck, Norman: One of the state's top shot-putters will try to add to her collection of state meet hardware. Bailey Golden, Choctaw: Among the favorites to win the high jump. Sydney Long, Westmoore: The aptly named Jaguar continues to dominate in the long jump, pushing the 19-foot mark. Morganne Mukes and Kya Barnes, Edmond Memorial: Mukes has multiple state medals in sprints, and Barnes has been the state's top 400 runner. Class 5A BOYS Cecil Cole, Del City: The Eagles' standout football player is a talented sprinter, too. Kolby Mendenhall, McGuinness: A state champion sprinter at Perry the last two years, Mendenhall has been strong against 5A competition this spring. Carlos Owens, Guthrie: Among the best hurdlers in the class, winning both events at regionals last week. Christian Patterson, Shawnee: The leader of the Wolves' talented pole vaulting group, Patterson cleared 15-7 at regionals. Ethan Taylor, Piedmont: The Wildcat hurdler should be in the mix for medals in the 110 and 300. GIRLS Tesa Potter, Tecumseh: The 5A cross country champ has been a force in the distance events throughout her career. Jakira Wilson, Del City: The Eagles didn't qualify a lot of athletes, but like Wilson in the sprints, all of them can score points. Helen Homola, McGuinness: The standout distance runner hopes to be in the mix in the 3,200. Kelsey Simmons and Moe Tramble, Shawnee: The veteran duo leads the Wolves on multiple relay teams. Candis Rodgers, Northwest Classen: The speedy sprinter will try to contend in the 100 and 200.
May 3, 2016
Buntin, who often drove car No. 37, came from a family of competitive racers, including his father Joe Buntin.
Tributes: Local race car driver Dustin Buntin dies at age 36
By Scott Munn | May 3, 2016A farewell to people with Oklahoma ties who enjoyed the game day experience: *Dustin Buntin, 36, of Wheatland was a longtime race car driver who ran at dirt tracks all over Oklahoma. Buntin, who often drove car No. 37, came from a family of competitive racers, including his father Joe Buntin. Dustin raced various types of cars since age 11. His most recent venture was in mini sprints. *Dick Wilkins of Oklahoma City died three days shy of his 82nd birthday. Wilkins was star halfback at Duncan High School in the early 1950s. He was an Oklahoman All-Stater and a prep All-American after running for a school-record 1,799 yards and 27 touchdowns. Wilkins also kicked 33 extra points. Although Wilkins' rushing record was broken in 1996, his 195 points in a season remains a Duncan record. He went on to play at Notre Dame. The career architect was inducted into the Duncan Athletic Hall of Fame in 2012. *Harry Perkowski, 93, of Beckley, W.Va., played professional baseball for several years in the Cincinnati Reds and Chicago Cubs organizations. He played the 1948 season with the Tulsa Oilers, then affiliated with the Reds. The left-handed pitcher had a stellar summer, finishing 22-10 with a 2.98 earned-run average. He returned to Tulsa in 1956 — at the tail end of his career — and finished 4-2 with a 3.38 ERA. A World War II veteran who served in both the Pacific and Atlantic. Worked in law enforcement after baseball. *Carl Martin, 93, of Broken Arrow. The Broken Arrow High School graduate had a passion for baseball. He played it. He coached it. Martin even founded the Broken Arrow Youth Baseball Program. The World War II veteran was a retired postmaster. *Joe Humfleet, 70, of Noble played football at Crooked Oak High School and the University of Tulsa. Humfleet's top memories of playing college football included a game against the Houston Cougars in the Astrodome and competing against Mean Joe Green of North Texas State. After his playing days, he went into coaching and made stops at Crooked Oak, Anadarko, Newcastle, McLoud, Noble and Oklahoma Christian Academy high schools. *George Saffa Jr., 68, of Tulsa was a pharmacist by trade. As a young man, he was involved in various athletics. He was a member of the first cross country team in Tulsa Bishop Kelley High School history. *Joey Clarkson, 25, of Midwest City. He was a dedicated body builder. Liked to watch OU football and Thunder basketball with his father and brothers. *Wes Clevenger, 56, of Tulsa. He was an All-State wrestler at Tulsa Hale High School. He went on to compete at Claremore Junior College, and then stayed involved in the sport by coaching elementary programs in the Tulsa area. Clevenger was also a longtime wrestling official. *Bryce Phillips, 5, of Owasso was a ballplayer. He enjoyed playing basketball, football, soccer and baseball. Bryce loved to run, too. He was given a medal for being a member of the 25-mile club at Catalayah Elementary. *Mike Turk, 65, of Stillwater was a retired principal. Before getting into administration, he was a basketball or baseball coach at Beggs, Keifer and Sperry. Turk returned to his alma mater, Collinsville High School, where he served as athletic director. He was a multisport athlete as a high schooler. *Mike Smith, 63, of Altus. Known by friends as "Smitty," he was an excellent marksman who competed in trap shooting. A member of the Oklahoma Trap Shooting Hall of Fame. Also liked bowling. *Bo McBride, 88, of Lawton played basketball and baseball at Alfalfa High School. *Bud McDaniel, 70, of Norman. A state champion wrestler for Norman High School. He was a member of the Oklahoma wrestling team, before joining the Army. While in the service, McDaniel was an alternate for the Army team that participated in the 1970 World Games in Edmonton. The Vietnam veteran would spend more than 40 years in an industrial business that supplied ball bearings, and gear boxes.
NFL Draft: Eric Striker goes undrafted, but becomes social media sensation after his speech to family aired live on ESPNApr 30, 2016
Former Oklahoma linebacker Eric Striker was one of hundreds of NFL Draft hopefuls who didn’t hear his name called this weekend, but he still managed to shine because of a heartfelt speech broadcast on ESPN. Late in the seventh round, ESPN went live to Striker’s draft watch party, where dozens of family members were gathered. Striker addressed the room, thanking them for being there and...
NFL Draft: Eric Striker goes undrafted, but becomes social media sensation after his speech to family aired live on ESPN
Jason Kersey | Apr 30, 2016[img width="" height="" style="" render="w620"]4231112[/img] Former Oklahoma linebacker Eric Striker was one of hundreds of NFL Draft hopefuls who didn’t hear his name called this weekend, but he still managed to shine because of a heartfelt speech broadcast on ESPN. Late in the seventh round, ESPN went live to Striker’s draft watch party, where dozens of family members were gathered. Striker addressed the room, thanking them for being there and imploring them to not be too upset about his draft fate. He reminded his family that it took somebody else getting hurt for him to get a shot his sophomore season at Armwood High School in Seffner, Fla., and said that when he got to OU, “Coach Mike didn’t believe in me,” apparently referring to defensive coordinator Mike Stoops. “I’m gonna get my shot, drafted or not,” Striker told those gathered. Striker began to cry after saying, “I’m so happy that all of you all came to share this with me,” then continued, “I know my mom and my dad are a little hurt. Some of you all are hurt, too, but we got the award on Monday and I’m so happy. … There’s so much potential for me.” The award Striker is referring to is the Otis Sullivant Award, which honors an OU faculty or staff member or student who exhibits “keen perceptivity.” This is the 15th year the Sullivant Award has been given, and Striker is the first student to win it. The social media reaction to Striker’s speech was instantly, overwhelmingly positive. San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Torrey Smith tweeted, “I have no clue who Eric Striker is but I have a lot of respect for him....humble dude.” Former OU safety Tony Jefferson — who himself dealt with going undrafted but is now a mainstay in the Arizona Cardinals secondary — tweeted, “Striker. Keep your head up.. This game needs you.. This does not and will not define you.” Striker reportedly will sign with the Buffalo Bills as an undrafted free agent. Striker recorded 191 tackles — 45 for loss — and 22.5 sacks over his four-year career with the Sooners. He was one of the most effective pass rushers in college football between his sophomore and senior seasons. But throughout the pre-draft process, plenty of questions have been raised about his potential at the professional level. Some wonder if he’s too small to play linebacker in the NFL, while simultaneously wondering if he has the speed to play a box safety spot and defend slot receivers in pass coverage. Still, Striker was used more in pass coverage last season and did well. Striker’s reference to Mike Stoops’ apparent doubt about his ability was a new revelation, although not an entirely surprising one considering Striker was recruited to Norman by former OU defensive coordinator Brent Venables. By the time Venables left for Clemson and Mike Stoops returned to Norman as his replacement, Striker had already been committed to OU for months and signed a few weeks later. Off the field, Striker never got into any trouble and was a strong team leader. He also became a campus-wide leader in the aftermath of the infamous SAE incident. “If you draft me, I’m going to bring a shot of adrenaline to your defense — a shot of energy,” Striker wrote in a pre-draft article for The Players’ Tribune. “I’m a high-motor guy on the field and a high-energy guy in the huddle, in the weight room and on the practice field. There are some things you can’t teach. You can’t teach heart. You can’t teach hustle. You can’t teach having a relentless motor that never, ever quits.”
Apr 29, 2016
ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — After boosting their offense in the first round, the Washington Redskins turned their focus to defense on Day Two of the NFL draft.Selecting hybrid linebacker/safety Su'a Cravens from USC with the 53rd pick and defensive back Kendall Fuller from Virginia Tech with the 84th pick, the Redskins took a big step toward improving a unit that ranked 28th in the NFL last...
Redskins go defense in NFL draft, pick Cravens, Fuller
By STEPHEN WHYNO, Associated Press | Apr 29, 2016ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — After boosting their offense in the first round, the Washington Redskins turned their focus to defense on Day Two of the NFL draft. Selecting hybrid linebacker/safety Su'a Cravens from USC with the 53rd pick and defensive back Kendall Fuller from Virginia Tech with the 84th pick, the Redskins took a big step toward improving a unit that ranked 28th in the NFL last season. "We're just trying to add good football players to this team and we'll figure out who's playing where and how to get the receivers the ball, what have you," coach Jay Gruden said Friday night. "The important thing here and the goal of this draft was to sign the best players we can, draft the best players we can." The Redskins a week ago signed elite free agent cornerback Josh Norman to a five-year deal. Following the pick of TCU wide receiver Josh Doctson at 22nd overall in the first round, Washington has drastically changed the look of its defense by adding Cravens and Fuller. The 6-foot-1, 226-pound Cravens is expected to be a dime linebacker for Washington. "That's a spot where I can fit right in the defense," Cravens said on a conference call. "You can be a playmaker. You can come sit down and be ready to protect against the run and then also be in space and cover and show your athleticism. It gives me a chance to use my instincts and just be in the right position to make plays." Gruden likes the versatility Cravens provides as far as coverage, stopping the run and rushing the passer. He called Cravens a ball-hawk and a "turnover machine." Cravens compared himself to Arizona Cardinals linebacker Deone Bucannon, who's also a bit undersized. "He plays a lot bigger than what he is, and he makes plays in open space and he's very physical when it comes to the point of attack," Cravens said. "I think I'll do a lot of the same things he does." Cravens doesn't mind being smaller than the average linebacker, pointing to technique as the reason he succeeds. "If you look at my film the past two years, I was an undersized linebacker that was in the trenches taking on tackles, guards and fullbacks out the backfield, getting off blocks and making plays," he said. "So I think it's just the attitude you carry, the mentality that you have and how physical you want to be." Cravens has a Redskins connection to defensive coordinator Joe Barry, who recruited him to USC out of high school but left before he arrived. Barry interrupted his vacation to witness Cravens' pro day, and the impression was strong enough to make him Washington's pick. Fuller was projected as a first-round pick before suffering a right knee injury last fall. A meniscus repair turned into a microfracture surgery that cost him the rest of the season, but the Redskins saw him as worth the risk. "He's too talented of a player to pass up," Gruden said. The Redskins' connection with Dr. James Andrews, who did Fuller's surgery, doesn't hurt. Neither does the fact that brothers Vincent, Corey and Kyle have already gone from Virginia Tech to the NFL. "Being able to learn from their experiences, their past and just soaking up that knowledge and really kind of being able to understand the game fully and things like that definitely benefited me a lot," Fuller said on a conference call. Fuller said the movement is back in his knee and he just needs to build up some strength. Gruden expects the Baltimore native to be ready for OTAs, or at worst training camp. ___ Online: AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and AP NFL Twitter feed: www.twitter.com/AP_NFL
Apr 28, 2016
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman couldn't help himself.When defensive tackle defensive tackle Vernon Butler from Louisiana Tech dropped to the 30th spot in the NFL draft, Gettleman took him, giving the NFC champions even more depth on an already strong and deep interior defensive line.The 6-foot-3, 316-pound Butler won't start, but gives the Panthers another "hog...
Panthers take DT Vernon Butler from La. Tech with 30th pick
By STEVE REED, Associated Press | Apr 28, 2016CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman couldn't help himself. When defensive tackle defensive tackle Vernon Butler from Louisiana Tech dropped to the 30th spot in the NFL draft, Gettleman took him, giving the NFC champions even more depth on an already strong and deep interior defensive line. The 6-foot-3, 316-pound Butler won't start, but gives the Panthers another "hog molly," as Gettleman likes to call them. "I couldn't help my hog molly self," Gettleman said with a laugh. "We were really kind of shocked that he was there. I don't know why he fell. It was like my first draft here and watching Star (Lotulelei) fall to us. But the value was too good. He's big and powerful and athletic and has all of the stuff." Butler had 50 tackles and three sacks last season as a senior and was named first-term All-Conference USA. The Panthers came into the draft needing to fill openings at defensive end following the retirement of Jared Allen and cornerback after the departure of All-Pro Josh Norman, but Gettleman didn't go that direction after five cornerbacks and three defensive ends went off the board. The Panthers have Lotutelei and Kawann Short — whom Gettleman drafted in the first and second round respectively in 2013 — as their current starting defensive tackles. They picked up the fifth-year option on Lotulelei earlier this week and are hoping to sign Short, who had 11 sacks last season, to a long-term contract before the start of next season. Butler is an athletic player, who didn't switch from basketball to football until his junior year of high school. "To be honest I wasn't getting no taller being 6-foot-4," Butler said. "I knew I wasn't going to be playing in the post unless I was 6-9." Butler's father played guard for Northeast Louisiana University on a team that qualified for the NCAA Tournament in 1982. Gettleman said seven teams tried to trade up with the Panthers to the 30th spot. "The deals weren't very attractive," Gettleman said. "We got on the clock and they started to up the ante, but we had made up our mind by then." Ron Rivera said Butler is more of a 3-technique, but who can also play the nose tackle spot. Rivera said Butler helps fill the void created by Dwan Edwards, who retired after the season. "He is explosive and powerful at the point of attack," Rivera said. "We most certainly do see the upside." While Butler doesn't have big sack numbers, the Panthers like the way he impacts the game. "You can't go strictly by the numbers," Gettleman said. "It is about do they help other people make plays. This kid not only has the ability to create, but to finish too." Rivera also liked Butler's ability to retain information during interviews with him and feels he will pick up the scheme quickly. Rivera said he expects Butler to be a part of the rotation right away. "I am going to do what the coach wants me to do," Butler said. "If they need a rotational guy. I will be a rotational guy." Butler said the Detroit Lions told him they were going to draft him with the 16th pick, but that never happened. He said he's thrilled to wind up with a team that finished 17-2 last season and has won three straight NFC South championships. "I'm a big Cam Newton fan and I have been a fan of him since he was at Auburn," Butler said. The Panthers didn't strongly consider drafting a defensive end because Gettleman feels they have "good, young, raw talent" at that position, even with Charles Johnson getting older and Allen retiring. However, Gettleman also said he anticipates the Panthers will draft a cornerback at some point this weekend to help replace Norman. The Panthers have one pick in both the second and third rounds on Friday. ___ Online: AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and AP NFL Twitter feed: http://twitter.com/AP_NFL
Apr 28, 2016
Names like Larry Rose of U.S. Grant — one of the state’s greatest 1-mile runners ever — or Glen Long of Douglass, who is part of two such forgotten records, or Nina Thompson of John Marshall, who had a hand (foot?) in four of them.
Prep Parade: Remembering Oklahoma's forgotten state record holders
By Scott Wright Staff Writer firstname.lastname@example.org | Apr 28, 2016The spring of 1982 was quite a year for high school track in Oklahoma. Four state records were broken that year — three by girls and one by a boy. Records that will never be broken. If you browse the current state records in track and field, you won't see the names of Laura Blackburn or Rhonda Lewis. You'll see Bixby hurdler Victor Moore, but not for what he did in 1982. Those runners and several others are part of a list of the state's forgotten record holders. Names like Larry Rose of U.S. Grant — one of the state's greatest 1-mile runners ever — or Glen Long of Douglass, who is part of two such forgotten records, or Nina Thompson of John Marshall, who had a hand (foot?) in four of them. They're the names of the pre-metric track and field world. After the 1982 season, Oklahoma and the rest of the country switched from yardage distances for running events to metric measurements. The 100-yard dash became the 100-meter dash. The 2-mile run became the 3,200 meters. And with that, the slate of state records was wiped clear. It's hard to say how many of the old records would still be standing today. All but six records set between 1983-1990 have been broken. Sixteen of the 34 current state records were set in the last 10 years. Four — two for boys and two for girls — of the marks set in 1983 still stand. One of those belongs to Moore, a Bixby hurdler who has the unique distinction of being on both lists. In 1982, he set the record in the 120-yard high hurdles at 13.6 seconds in the OSU Relays. In 1983, he set the 300-meter hurdle record at 36.80, which still stands as the metric record. Yet 30 records will stand forever in yardage-measured events. At least for a day, let them not be forgotten. Here are Oklahoma's yardage-distance track record holders: BOYS Yardage Distances 100: 9.48, Jim Evans, Tulsa Washington, 1980, State meet at Western Heights. 220 Straightaway: 20.5, Glen Long, Douglass, 1965, State meet at Choctaw. 220 Curve: 21.0, William Snoddy, Tulsa Hale, 1975, State prelims at UCO. 440: 47.4, Jody Jimerson, Norman, 1976, Moore Invitational. 880: 1:51.7, Jim Davis, Lawton, 1975, State meet at UCO. Mile: 4:11.2, Larry Rose, U.S. Grant, 1967, Meet of Champions at Northeast. 2-Mile: 9:03.4, Greg Avery, Ponca City, 1979, Indian Nations Conference at Tulsa Webster. 120HH: 13.6, Victor Moore, Bixby, 1982, OSU Relays. 180LH: 18.2, Robert Derrick, Woodward, 1953, Regional at Tonkawa. 200LH: 22.4, Willie Powers, Lawton, 1937, OSU Interscholastic. 220LH: 24.0, Phil Cope, Classen, 1933, OSU Interscholastic. 330IH: 37.41, Steve Bloom, Enid, 1980, State meet at Western Heights. 440 Relay: 41.4, Douglass (Al Hughes, Connie Sledge, Wayne Long, Glen Long), 1965, Meet of Champions at Northeast. 880 Relay: 1:28.0, Harding (Norman Neaves, Mark Sullivan, Bill Townsend, Richard Sinclair), 1958, State meet at OSU. 2-Mile Relay: 7:52.2, Putnam City (Rosie Nixon, Ken Murphey, Fred Mills, Mike Ruggles), 1976, State meet at UCO. GIRLS Yardage Distances 75: 8.8, Betty Peffer, Elk City, 1973, State meet at Star Spencer; Dana Horseman, Caney Valley, 1974, State meet at Putnam City. 100: 10.5, Nina Thompson, John Marshall, 1979, Regional at Edmond. 220: 24.11, Nina Thompson, John Marshall, 1980, State meet at Western Heights. 440: 56.6, Theresa Brantley, John Marshall, 1980, Regional at Chickasha. 880: 2:13.6, Karen Robinson, Owasso, 1979, Regional in Tulsa. Mile: 5:07.4, Denise Weeden, Edmond Memorial, 1980, Mid-State Conference at Edmond. 2-Mile: 11:37.1, Laura Blackburn, Moore, 1982, State meet at Moore. 70HH: 9.05, Suzi Winingham, Hennessey, 1972, State meet at Star Spencer. 80HH: 10.3, Lettie Starr, John Marshall, 1981, Tulsa Memorial Invitational prelims. 110HH: 14.4, Rhonda Lewis, John Marshall, 1982, Regional at Edmond. 220LH: 29.35, Rhonda Lewis, John Marshall, 1982, State prelims at Moore. 440 Relay: 47.21, John Marshall (Denise Staton, Valerie Armstrong, Nina Thompson, Lorna Tucker), 1979, State meet at Moore. 880 Relay: 1:39.13, John Marshall (Denise Staton, Valerie Armstrong, Nina Thompson, Lorna Tucker), 1979, State meet at Moore. Mile Relay: 3:49.5, John Marshall (Theresa Brantley, Rochelle Armstrong, Valerie Armstrong, Lorna Tucker), 1978, State prelims at Carl Albert. 2-Mile Relay: 9:51.3, Edmond Memorial (Nancy Faulk, Lee Ann Hamilton, Bridget Felix, Denise Weeden), 1980, Edmond Relays. MUSTANG'S THOMAS TO ANNOUNCE COLLEGE CHOICE SATURDAY Mustang defensive tackle Deontre Thomas has been one of the more surprising football recruits in the 2017 class to burst onto the scene. And the 6-foot-2, 265-pound defensive tackle exploded. Now, he says he's ready to make his college decision. He announced Michigan, Nebraska, Ole Miss, Arizona State and Texas A&M as his final five schools, and will make his commitment on Saturday. The announcement is expected to be posted on his Twitter page around 1 p.m. Thomas had more than a dozen schools to pick from, though neither Oklahoma nor Oklahoma State offered. A 265-pound defensive tackle might sound undersized for Power 5 conferences, but his technique, along with a frame that can carry another 30 pounds make him attractive to recruiters. “He's an every-snap guy,” Mustang coach Jeremy Dombek said. “He's quick, he plays with great hands and great leverage. “He's not huge, but they see the potential with his frame to get him up to 285 or 290.” Dombek says everything seemed to change for Thomas late last season. “The last four or five weeks, the light bulb came on for him,” the coach said. “If you watched him against Tulsa Union and Broken Arrow, they couldn't block him. He was splitting double-teams and chasing down screens. That's what the college coaches have seen — a guy who is a relentless pursuer of the football and very athletic.” MCGUINNESS' CONDON GAINING MAJOR COLLEGE INTEREST Michigan became the latest school to visit McGuinness sophomore offensive lineman Owen Condon as he continues his rapid rise on the recruiting circuit. Irish coach Justin Jones confirmed Michigan's visit Wednesday to see the 6-foot-7, 315-pound tackle who recently picked up scholarship offers from Ohio, SMU and Tulsa. “It's hard to find a guy that is that big that moves as well as he does,” Jones said. “Not only does he move he's a bender who has flexibility and he moves his feet really well, which makes him a perfect tackle at the next level. I think he'll be recruited by a lot of guys across the nations just because of that.” Michigan also visited Southmoore, which has a pair of sophomore stars, quarterback Casey Thompson and offensive lineman Brey Walker, an Oklahoma commitment. Condon has rapidly added weight in the offseason, going from 275 pounds last season to his current weight. That's why Jones feels recruiters are paying more attention. “He's just developing every day as far as being a football player and he's hitting that maturity to where he's starting to grow into his body as well,” Jones said. “Those 35-40 pounds that he's put on shows that he can carry that frame.” HARDING PREP'S ANSELM UZUEGBUNEM SIGNS WITH NOC-TONKAWA After helping Harding Prep to one of its best basketball seasons, finishing the regular season ranked in the Class 4A top 10, senior forward Anselm Uzuegbunem has signed to continue his career at Northern Oklahoma College of Tonkawa. Uzuegbunem signed his letter of intent on Wednesday. The powerfully built 6-foot-7 forward averaged 19.1 points and 10.0 rebounds as a senior. *Staff writer Jacob Unruh contributed to this report
Apr 28, 2016
I pulled off Broadway Extension and into the parking lot, turned the key to park my 2003 Hyundai Accent, grabbed my three-ring binder of work examples and took a deep breath. Waiting for me inside the old Oklahoman headquarters — the tower off Broadway Extension and Britton Road — was sports editor Mike Sherman, who had graciously agreed to meet with me and talk about the profession I hoped to...
OU beat writer Jason Kersey bidding farewell to The Oklahoman after nearly a decade
Jason Kersey | Apr 28, 2016[img width="" height="" style="" render="w620"]4226285[/img] I pulled off Broadway Extension and into the parking lot, turned the key to park my 2003 Hyundai Accent, grabbed my three-ring binder of work examples and took a deep breath. Waiting for me inside the old Oklahoman headquarters — the tower off Broadway Extension and Britton Road — was sports editor Mike Sherman, who had graciously agreed to meet with me and talk about the profession I hoped to someday join. The best-case scenario in my mind was that Mike would be impressed enough with my clips to let me freelance some high school games and get my foot in the door. Instead, Mike offered me a job as a part-time results clerk. Nine-and-a-half years later, I’ve worn several different hats inside The Oklahoman’s award winning sports department. I’ve answered phones, typed in scores and schedules, designed pages, edited copy, covered high school sports and — for the last four years — been the paper’s Sooners football beat writer. That ends next Friday, May 6, as I’ve accepted a job covering Arkansas football for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s new venture, SECCountry.com. It’s been a strange — sometimes sad, sometimes exciting — few weeks as I have prepared myself mentally to make this transition, but I wanted to convey gratitude to several folks and express some random thoughts as my time at The Oklahoman winds down. * Ryan Aber is not only a fantastic beat partner, but also became such a good friend to me that he was a groomsman in my wedding two summers ago. Without a doubt, we will remain close friends forever (even if he blocks me on Twitter occasionally when I give him a hard time). OU fans can take comfort in the fact that Ryan will remain on the beat and writing interesting, valuable stories about the teams you love. * Scott Wright was a partner of mine on the high school sports beat. He is an absolute authority on high school sports in this state and will always be someone I consider a close friend. * Berry Tramel and Jenni Carlson were celebrities to me before I started working at The Oklahoman. I could have never imagined I would meet them, much less work with them. But I guarantee you won’t find a newspaper in America with two columnists who are more humble, work harder and care more about the product than Berry and Jenni. More than anything, I consider myself truly, immensely blessed to call them friends. * I could go on and on listing the other great people that pour everything they have into the phenomenal Oklahoman sports section you read every day. Many of the names are ones you know — Ryan Aber, Jenni Carlson, Kyle Fredrickson, Ed Godfrey, John Helsley, Erik Horne, Darnell Mayberry, Todd Schoenthaler, Anthony Slater, Berry Tramel, Scott Wright, Jacob Unruh — but there is also a giant behind-the-scenes crew that is just as valuable as any writer. Those folks — people like Rob Backus, Chris Brannick, Reina Kempt, Caleb McWilliams, Scott Munn, Trent Shadid, Ryan Sharp and Jerry Smith — not only make the section look great every day, but also save our rear ends on more occasions than we writers would probably care to admit. * Darla Smith perhaps epitomizes that better than anyone. You might not know her name, but you’ve absolutely benefited from the incredible work she does organizing the newspaper’s statistics and schedules, in addition to overseeing our high school sports coverage. Even if I told you, you’d never believe the sacrifice and sweat equity she has deposited to provide important content for readers. Darla was my first boss at The Oklahoman and remains one of my absolute favorite people in the building. * I have been asked many times by friends, family members and readers about what it’s like to cover Bob Stoops. “He’s so mean in press conferences! How do you handle that?” people ask me. The truth is, it really isn’t all that bad. There’s a big old laundry list of things Bob would rather do than talk to the media, but all things considered, my relationship with him has been solid. He has treated me with respect and answered most of my questions. On a few occasions, Bob would call or speak with me privately about an issue he had with something I’d written, but once those conversations ended, all was well. He would say what he needed to say and move on, never holding any grudges. I always appreciated that. The bottom line is this: His relationship with or attitude toward the media really doesn’t matter. Bob is a good, decent man who does lots of great — and usually behind-the-scenes — work in the community. He is also adored by his players and the people who work for him, and has been enormously successful on the field. Those are the things that ultimately matter. Are his media policies everything we might desire? Of course not, but at the end of the day, I leave here with nothing but respect for the man, both personally and professionally. * OU athletic director Joe Castiglione is a first-class individual who I’ve genuinely enjoyed dealing with and getting to know. He’s always been available to — and respectful of — me over the last four years and for that I’ll always be grateful. Ditto for other OU coaches I've worked closely with like Lincoln Riley, Bill Bedenbaugh, Sherri Coale, Patty Gasso, Jan Ross and Chad Thrailkill. * OU’s media relations staff — led by Mike Houck — is filled with good people who work hard and do a good job. A natural friction exists between those folks and the media, and there were plenty of confrontations that included myself over the last four years. But Mike, Karl Anderson, Tyler Pigg and the rest of the OU media relations staff are good people who never let those natural skirmishes become barriers to professional working relationships. * The four seasons I covered Oklahoma football were certainly interesting ones. Bob Stoops was on his way out, then bound for renewed greatness, about 12 different times during this stretch. I witnessed highs like the 2014 Sugar Bowl, the 2015 Big 12 championship and the College Football Playoff berth, plus lows like the 2014 Russell Athletic Bowl and two ugly losses to Baylor. I saw the Sooners beat Texas in a resounding, historic 63-21 victory, but also lose two Red River games that will forever baffle me. I covered historic, memorable games at Notre Dame and at Tennessee. I was fortunate enough to write about quarterbacks like Trevor Knight, Blake Bell and Baker Mayfield who were infinitely fascinating. My four years on the OU beat coincided with the four years Ty Darlington, Trevor Knight, Zack Sanchez, Sterling Shepard, Eric Striker and Charles Tapper spent in Norman. * Speaking of Shepard, I was fortunate enough to cover him as a Heritage Hall High senior and then through his four incredible seasons with the Sooners. There’s little doubt in my mind that he will be at least a solid — and maybe even a great — NFL player. * I’ll be lucky if I ever forge another relationship with someone I cover quite like the one I had with Eric Striker. Eric and I weren’t friends — every good reporter knows the metaphorical line that exists when you cover someone — but there was a mutual respect and a trust there that manifested itself in a pretty special way after the SAE story broke. * I can’t wait to see what life has in store for Ty Darlington, but you can bet he isn’t done making a positive impact in athletics, even if he never plays a down in the NFL. * I also want to give a nod to the other OU beat writers I was around the last four years. Eric Bailey, Guerin Emig, Carey Murdock and John Shinn all have lots more experience in sports journalism than me, but always made me feel like one of them, even in the early days when I was the new guy. I leave here considering all of my OU beat counterparts good friends. * I would be remiss if I didn’t highlight my appreciation for you, the readers. I know you guys didn’t always agree with the things I wrote. Sometimes you passionately disagreed. But to the vast majority of you who were always respectful and agreeable — even when you disagreed — I offer a sincere thank you. At the end of the day, my job is to serve readers. I hope you all felt like I did that above all else. * This post would never end if I continued naming every interesting person I came across during my time on the OU beat, but I want to end with a nod to the man who made it all possible. Mike Sherman can sometimes be tough to work for, but that’s only because he cares so much about the product and believes so deeply in the potential of his writers. The Oklahoman has won countless awards over the past several years, and a big reason for that is the person at the top. Mike has pushed me to be better at this job than I ever dreamed I could be. He spent hours going line-by-line over different stories with me. He’s become one of my most valuable mentors and a good friend over our nine-plus years together. Any journalist would be lucky to work for someone like Mike Sherman at some point in their career. I don’t know what compelled Mike to hire an awkward, 19-year old college sophomore in November 2006. Sometimes I’m not entirely sure what gave him the confidence to keep promoting that goofball at various points since then. But I do know one thing: I’ll be forever grateful to Mike Sherman for giving me the opportunity to live my dream at the newspaper I grew up reading.
Apr 27, 2016
Many experts believe the former Oklahoma standout will be selected in the 2016 NFL Draft on Friday during the second or third round. But according to one of them, scouts didn’t only recently begin drooling over Shepard.
OU football: Oklahoma's Sterling Shepard a hot prospect entering the 2016 NFL Draft
By Jason Kersey | Apr 27, 2016NORMAN — Sterling Shepard's NFL Draft stock has undoubtedly risen since late January, when he wowed scouts at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. That rise continued through February's NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, when he tied for first place among receivers in the bench press and the vertical jump, and ran a 4.48 in the 40-yard dash. Many experts believe the former Oklahoma standout will be selected in the 2016 NFL Draft on Friday during the second or third round. But according to one of them, scouts didn't only recently begin drooling over Shepard. “His name has really gotten to be more significant as we've gone along in this process,” said NFL.com draft analyst Charles Davis, “but it wasn't one that they didn't know in the beginning. They've been watching him.” Davis, the former Tennessee defensive back who is also a college football broadcaster, has covered games involving Shepard since his freshman season in 2012. “They way Coach (Bob) Stoops would talk about him, you could tell how special he was to him,” Davis said. “Those are always the kind of things I look for.” Shepard's story has been well-told. The son of former OU standout Derrick Shepard, Sterling lost his father at the age of 6. As he grew up and became a star football player himself — he was a two-time Oklahoman All-State selection during his high school career at Heritage Hall — Sterling became a hot recruit, but chose to stay close to home and follow in his Dad's footsteps. Over his four seasons as a Sooner, Shepard caught 233 passes for 3,482 yards and 26 touchdowns. As a senior last year — when he helped lead OU to a Big 12 title and College Football Playoff berth — he recorded 1,288 yards and 11 touchdowns. Despite his outstanding college football career, though, Shepard didn't generate much serious buzz as a professional prospect until his week at the Senior Bowl. He was named one of the Practice Players of the Week. Then, his stellar Combine performance only confirmed what many NFL scouts and coaches were already starting to believe. “He's nailed the draft process,” said ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr., who projects Shepard as going No. 37 overall to the San Francisco 49ers in the second round. “He's done everything very well. He's got all the intangibles in the world.” Throughout the draft process, Shepard has drawn comparisons to former Kansas State and Tulsa Washington star Tyler Lockett, who was an All-Pro as a rookie last season with the Seattle Seahawks. Lockett — who, like Shepard, stands at 5-foot-10 — faced similar questions from scouts about his size entering last year's draft, when he went in the third round. “I truly believe that Sterling Shepard can make the same impact that I made — if not bigger — and it all goes on him being able to go to a team that will be able to utilize him to the best of his ability,” Lockett said in an interview earlier this week with the Tulsa World. Davis said that Shepard's versatility is one thing that plays in his favor with NFL folks. Shepard has shown an ability to play both inside and outside wideout positions, although he is a more natural slot receiver. But maybe most importantly, Davis said that in his conversations with scouts, they bring up Shepard's character. That — along with his unique, impressive skill set — means he isn't much of a risk. “He presents himself so well in face-to-face meetings,” Davis said. “And then you look at what he's done on the field. “He's absolutely fearless.”
A farewell to people with Oklahoma ties who enjoyed the game day experience: *Gary Shivers, 82, of Oklahoma City was a native Texan who starred in basketball at the University of Houston. Shivers was an All-Missouri Valley Conference selection in 1954 and was then drafted in the 10th round by the old Baltimore Bullets. He played for several teams in the National Industrial Basketball League,...
TRIBUTES: A farewell to people with Oklahoma ties who enjoyed the game day experience
By Scott Munn Assistant Sports Editor email@example.com | Apr 26, 2016A farewell to people with Oklahoma ties who enjoyed the game day experience: *Gary Shivers, 82, of Oklahoma City was a native Texan who starred in basketball at the University of Houston. Shivers was an All-Missouri Valley Conference selection in 1954 and was then drafted in the 10th round by the old Baltimore Bullets. He played for several teams in the National Industrial Basketball League, including the Goodyear Wingfoots. An avid golfer and Oklahoma State fan. Spent 35 years working in management for Goodyear Tire and Rubber. *Justin Lewis, 41, of Newcastle played on Merritt High School's first state tournament basketball team in 1992. The father of four was a Southeastern State graduate and worked as a production technician for Astellas Pharma Technologies in Norman. *Dan Dearing, 67, of Seminole was a 1967 graduate of Wewoka High School. Dearing was the center and punter for the '66 football team that won the Class A state title. The district all-star earned a scholarship to play football for Central Oklahoma. The OU football fan enjoyed golfing, fishing and boating. He was retired from Ford Motor Co. *Matt Crawford, 42, of Piedmont was a member of the U.S. National handball team. Also worked the starting gates at Remington Park. A Medford High School graduate who played college basketball. *Mark Payton, 95, of Tulsa. He beat polio as a child and became an All-State football player at Belle Plaine High School in Iowa. He liked to climb mountains as a youngster. *Roy Saunders, 85, of Tulsa was a stock car racer as a young man. *Robby Fox Jr., 50, of Newcastle. An Edmond native and Yukon High School graduate. He played football, basketball and baseball through the eighth grade. Competed in dirt bike racing. Also liked drag racing and attended many national events. The construction and trucking company owner was an OU football fan. *Dalton Blanche, 96, of Oklahoma City. He grew up fishing on the Mountain Fork River in the Broken Bow area. As a high schooler, he organized fishing trips for tourists. After high school, he moved to Wichita, Kan., and helped build bombers at the Boeing plant during World War II. *Olen Foley, 86, of Oklahoma City played softball until his 80th birthday. The retired TWA customer service agent was an avid St. Louis Cardinals and Arkansas Razorbacks fan. Enjoyed coaching his children's sports teams. *Jim Miller, 87, of Oklahoma City. As a youngster, he was a pin boy at a city bowling alley. He earned extra money by staying after hours and setting pins for gamblers. The retired Air Force veteran and realtor was a standout bowler himself, carrying a 225 average as an adult. *Sue Burkdoll Ellison White, 82, of Edmond. As a high school girl, she spent fall football Fridays as a drum majorette at Pawnee High School. *Dr. J. Richard Hershberger, 83, of Oklahoma City. The minister was a world-class volleyball player. He played on six teams that won U.S. Volleyball National Championship Tournaments. The All-American also played on teams in the Senior Olympic Games. An avid fly fisherman.
Apr 23, 2016
Eckroat took command of the tournament with a first-round 65, then posted scores of 70 and 75 in the final two rounds to finish at 6-under par for the tournament.
High school notebook: Edmond North's Austin Eckroat wins Junior Invitational
By Scott Wright and Jacob Unruh | Apr 23, 2016Edmond North junior Austin Eckroat added to his already impressive résumé with a victory at one of the nation's most prestigious junior golf tournaments on Saturday. Eckroat birdied the final hole of the tournament to win the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley Golf Club in Graniteville, S.C. Eckroat took command of the tournament with a first-round 65, then posted scores of 70 and 75 in the final two rounds to finish at 6-under par for the tournament. He edged Min Woo Lee of Australia by one stroke. The top 55 junior players from around the country played in the tournament, as well as multiple international players. Eckroat, who is committed to Oklahoma State, was ranked No. 12 in the AJGA junior rankings before the event. EDMOND MEMORIAL'S BARNES WINS 400 AT KANSAS RELAYS Edmond Memorial sprinter Kya Barnes took on the highly competitive field at the University of Kansas Relays and came out on top. The senior won the 400-meter run with a time of 56.77 seconds at the event that draws top runners from around the region. Even her winning time trails Barnes' best 400 time of the year. She ran a 56.14 in a meet at Carl Albert earlier this year. ORCUTT, SZYMANSKI WIN ALL SPORTS ASSOCIATION AWARDS Norman senior Heath Orcutt and Crossings Christian senior Brett Szymanski were announced the winners of the annual Oklahoma City All Sports Association scholarships. Both will receive $1,200. Orcutt played soccer for four years with the Tigers and was the team captain this season. She also served as vice president of the student council, sophomore and junior senator, and she is a member of the National Honor Society. She is ranked No. 1 in her class with a 4.0 GPA and plans to attend Oklahoma to major in environmental engineering. Szymanski competed in football, basketball, tennis and track for Crossings Christian. A valedictorian with a 4.49 GPA and 35 ACT score, he was also a member of student council and the NHS. He also plans to attend OU and major in biology and/or business administration. Selection was based on achievements consistent with the mission of the association, including leadership, athletic participation, civic activities and academics, according to a release. Applicants must attend a two- or four-year Oklahoma college or university, have a 3.0 or higher GPA and a minimum ACT score of 22. The student must have participated in high school athletics. However, they could not be receiving an athletic scholarship or walk on at a school. FIVE SHAWNEE PITCHERS COMBINE FOR NO-HITTER Five Shawnee pitchers combined Thursday to throw a no-hitter against the OKC Broncos during a 3-0 victory. Shawnee (20-7) struck out 15 of the 22 batters faced, including the first 10 batters of the game. Tanner Sparks started the game, throwing two innings and striking out all six batters he faced on 28 pitches. A.J. Barron took over in the third and struck out the side on 17 pitches. Eli Davis, who is committed to Kansas, struck out the first batter of the fourth and finished with three strikeouts in two innings of work on 34 pitches. Teddy Robertson and Jake Taylor — an Oklahoma State commitment — pitched the final two innings, striking out a total of three on 31 pitches. Shawnee struggled with the bat as well, putting together just three singles from Davis, Sparks and Taylor.
Norman senior Heath Orcutt and Crossings Christian senior Brett Szymanski were announced the winners of the annual Oklahoma City All Sports Association scholarships. Both will receive $1,200. Orcutt played soccer for four years with the Tigers and was the team captain this season. She also served as vice president of the student council, sophomore and junior senator and she is a member of the...
OKC All Sports Association awards scholarships
Jacob Unruh | Apr 22, 2016Norman senior Heath Orcutt and Crossings Christian senior Brett Szymanski were announced the winners of the annual Oklahoma City All Sports Association scholarships. Both will receive $1,200. Orcutt played soccer for four years with the Tigers and was the team captain this season. She also served as vice president of the student council, sophomore and junior senator and she is a member of the National Honor Society. She is ranked No. 1 in her class with a 4.0 GPA and plans to attend Oklahoma to major in environmental engineering. Szymanski competed in football, basketball, tennis and track for Crossings Christian. A valedictorian with a 4.49 GPA and 35 ACT score, he was also a member of student council and the NHS. He also plans to attend OU and major in biology and/or business administration. Selection was based on achievements consistent with the mission of the association, including leadership, athletic participation, civic activities and academics, according to a release. Applicants must attend a two- or four-year Oklahoma college or university, have a 3.0 or higher GPA and a minimum ACT score of 22. The student must have participated in high school athletics. However, they could not be receiving an athletic scholarship or walk-on at a school.
Apr 21, 2016
Putnam City stayed within the family to fill one of the voids left by A.D. Burtschi's retirement. PC boys soccer coach Eddie Wright was promoted to the position of athletic director, the school district announced Thursday. “It's a dream come true to be named as the athletic director at a place that I have called home for so long,” Wright said. “I appreciate the confidence administrators have...
Putnam City soccer coach Eddie Wright named school's athletic director
By Scott Wright and Jacob Unruh | Apr 21, 2016Putnam City stayed within the family to fill one of the voids left by A.D. Burtschi's retirement. PC boys soccer coach Eddie Wright was promoted to the position of athletic director, the school district announced Thursday. “It's a dream come true to be named as the athletic director at a place that I have called home for so long,” Wright said. “I appreciate the confidence administrators have shown in me. I look forward to maintaining and enhancing our commitment to our student-athletes and pushing along with other coaches toward excellence in everything that we do.” Wright will remain in his role as soccer coach, leading a program that has seen participation numbers nearly triple since he took over. Wright was a football and soccer player at Putnam City, graduating in 1999. The school's boys basketball coaching vacancy hasn't been filled. FOUR CHOSEN FOR OKLAHOMA OFFICIALS HALL OF FAME The Oklahoma Officials Association announced four new inductees for its Hall of Fame this summer, including a basketball official from the final girls 6-on-6 basketball game in state history. The inductees include Phil Anderson of Lawton, Tom Clayton of Muskogee, Jerry Smith of Yuma, Ariz., and Paul Wilson of Norman. They will be inducted at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, July 23 during the OOA Summer Conference at Westmoore High School. Each member selected was chosen by the OOA Executive Board. Anderson officiated the final 6-on-6 game, a 63-37 win by Stigler over Meeker in the 1995 state tournament. Anderson worked 17 state championship games in his career. Clayton officiated football, basketball, baseball and fastpitch softball for 37 years. He also started and led several local officials groups in Okmulgee and Tulsa. Smith is a native of Red Oak who officiated football, basketball and baseball for 35 years. He's trained more than 150 officials in southeastern Oklahoma currently working with the OSSAA. Wilson is already a member of the ASA Hall of Fame as an umpire. He served on the National Association of Sports Official Board in 1989 and officiated both college basketball and college softball. NOBLE SEEKING NEW BOYS BASKETBALL COACH Noble boys basketball coach Brian Sexton has stepped down after three seasons. Sexton took over the Bears for the 2013-14 season, winning seven games each of his first two years. He led them to a 17-10 record this past season, losing in the Class 5A area consolation game. MCDOWELL, MCKAUFMAN, ROBERTS TAKE ALL-CITY CONFERENCE HONORS Each coming off impressive seasons, Southeast's Dashawn McDowell and Douglass' Patrick McKaufman were named Co-Players of the Year in the All-City Athletic Conference. McDowell averaged 30.1 points per game as a senior while leading Southeast to the Class 5A state tournament. Also a senior, McKafuman averaged over 20 per game in helping Douglass to its sixth 4A title in the last seven years. On the girls side, Classen SAS junior standout Taylor Roberts was named the Player of the Year after posting nearly 30 points per game. Here are the full All-Conference rosters: BOYS Co-Players of the Year: Dashawn McDowell, Southeast; Patrick McKaufman, Douglass First team: Marquis Edwards, Northeast; Coryon Mason, Douglass; Ron Walker, Southeast; Patrick Atkins, Centennial; Brandon Kelley, Star Spencer Second team: Morris Wilson, Northwest Classen; Mekail Hall, John Marshall; Ruben Lasarge, Douglass; Damion Thornton, U.S. Grant; Clevanta Lee, Star Spencer Third team: Dea'Zhon Perkins, Capitol Hill; Richard Gray, Northeast; Deandre Knight, John Marshall; Clifford Harrison, Star Spencer; Keith Krouser, Centennial Honorable mention Capitol Hill: Keontre Lockhart; Centennial: Marcus Alexander, Quinton Johnson, Floyd Marshall, Devion Lacour, Derrick Coleman, Des'mond Cooper; Classen SAS: Miles King; Douglass: Treijon Edwards, Delmon Mask; John Marshall: C.J. Smith, Maleke Hall; Millwood: Michelby Davis; Northeast: Armoni Norton, Corey Harrison, Lincoln Seward; Northwest Classen: Jaquan Grant; Southeast: Chris Johnson, Malik Swain; Star Spencer: Jermaine Smith, Latarryus Smith, Mikael Hobby; U.S. Grant: Keith Prather. GIRLS Coach of the Year: Malcolm Roberts, Classen SAS Player of the Year: Taylor Roberts, Classen SAS Newcomer of the Year: Honesty Norton, Northeast First team: Shatoya Bryson, Star Spencer; Awreona Ranson, Millwood; Jeanna Dixon, Centennial; Kennedy Williams, Classen SAS; Adrianna Braxton, Northwest Classen Second team: Princess Williams, Douglass; Jaila Jordan, Millwood; Breanna Burnett, Centennial; Marshay Walker, John Marshall; Victoria Vickers, Classen SAS; Honesty Norton, Northeast Third team: Taliya Farry, Star Spencer; Nykiah Hines, Millwood; Azalariah Jones, Northwest Classen; Jasmine Richey, Douglass; Taliyah Wallace, Southeast Honorable mention Capitol Hill: Jhavonna Miller; Centennial: Dai-Quana Echo-Hawk; John Marshall: Myka Mullin, Joanae Vann; Northeast: Tashiana Easley, Lau-Ryn Moore; Northwest Classen: Meshiale Johnson; Southeast: D'Angela Hunter, Treasure Gordon; Star Spencer: Desiree Stephens; U.S. Grant: Brittany Hamilton.
The Oklahoma Officials Association announced four new inductees for its Hall of Fame this summer, including a basketball official from the final girls 6-on-6 basketball game in state history. The inductees include Phil Anderson of Lawton, Tom Clayton of Muskogee, Jerry Smith of Yuma, Ariz., and Paul Wilson of Norman. They will be inducted at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, July 23 during the OOA Summer...
Four to be inducted into Oklahoma Officials Association Hall of Fame
Apr 21, 2016The Oklahoma Officials Association announced four new inductees for its Hall of Fame this summer, including a basketball official from the final girls 6-on-6 basketball game in state history. The inductees include Phil Anderson of Lawton, Tom Clayton of Muskogee, Jerry Smith of Yuma, Ariz., and Paul Wilson of Norman. They will be inducted at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, July 23 during the OOA Summer Conference at Westmoore High School. Each member selected was chosen by the OOA Executive Board. Anderson officiated the final 6-on-6 game, a 63-37 win by Stigler over Meeker in the 1995 state tournament. Anderson worked 17 state championship games in his career. Clayton officiated football, basketball, baseball and fastpitch softball for 37 years. He also started and led several local officials groups in Okmulgee and Tulsa. Smith is a native of Red Oak who officiated football, basketball and baseball for 35 years. He’s trained more than 150 officials in southeastern Oklahoma currently working with the OSSAA. Wilson is already a member of the ASA Hall of Fame as an umpire. He served on the National Association of Sports Official Board in 1989 and officiated both college basketball and college softball.
NORMAN — Oklahoma redshirt freshman wide receiver John Humphrey has decided to transfer, he announced Wednesday afternoon on his Twitter account. The news comes as a big surprise considering the big opportunity available for all the receivers on Oklahoma’s roster entering 2016. The speedy Humphrey spent last season redshirting, but was valuable each week as he always portrayed the upcoming...
Oklahoma football: Wide receiver John Humphrey announces he will transfer
Jason Kersey | Apr 20, 2016NORMAN — Oklahoma redshirt freshman wide receiver John Humphrey has decided to transfer, he announced Wednesday afternoon on his Twitter account. The news comes as a big surprise considering the big opportunity available for all the receivers on Oklahoma’s roster entering 2016. The speedy Humphrey spent last season redshirting, but was valuable each week as he always portrayed the upcoming opponent’s best receiver on the OU scout team. Oklahoma cornerback Jordan Thomas credited Humphrey for his shutdown performance against Baylor All-American Corey Coleman in OU’s crucial, early November win that helped propel the Sooners to a Big 12 title and the College Football Playoff. During Orange Bowl media day in December, Humphrey told The Oklahoman that, “I think getting redshirted was the best thing for me.” Humphrey, from League City, Texas, committed to the Sooners just before his senior season of high school. He had previously been committed to Baylor between April and June 2014. He signed with the Sooners over offers from Arkansas, California, Clemson, Louisville, Ole Miss, Missouri, Notre Dame, Oregon State, TCU and Texas Tech.
Oklahoma football: Kyler Murray, Austin Kendall give fans a preview of the 2017 quarterback battle in spring gameApr 9, 2016
NORMAN — As Oklahoma players ran onto the field for the fourth offensive series of Saturday's spring game, public address announcer Jim Miller delivered news that caused the 42,436 fans in attendance to roar. “Now at quarterback, Kyler Murray!” The Texas A&M transfer took his first public snap in a Sooner uniform, kept the ball on a zone-read play and sprinted 25 yards down the field before...
Oklahoma football: Kyler Murray, Austin Kendall give fans a preview of the 2017 quarterback battle in spring game
By Jason Kersey | Apr 9, 2016NORMAN — As Oklahoma players ran onto the field for the fourth offensive series of Saturday's spring game, public address announcer Jim Miller delivered news that caused the 42,436 fans in attendance to roar. “Now at quarterback, Kyler Murray!” The Texas A&M transfer took his first public snap in a Sooner uniform, kept the ball on a zone-read play and sprinted 25 yards down the field before he was touched. Baker Mayfield is the unquestioned starting quarterback entering the 2016 season, but after that, what should be a tremendous battle between Murray and Austin Kendall will decide the OU starter. Fans got a preview of that competition Saturday on Owen Field. “I don't try to think about it,” Murray said of next year's quarterback battle. “That's a year ahead. … I love competition. He loves competition. It'll be fun. But that's down the road.” Saturday, Murray completed six of his 10 pass attempts for 136 yards and two touchdowns, including a 52-yard strike to Michiah Quick late in the scrimmage to give the Red team a 17-16 victory over the White team. He also rushed for 34 yards and another score. Kendall, a true freshman and early enrollee, completed eight of 17 pass attempts for 52 yards and rushed for nine yards and a touchdown. Mayfield came out of the game after halftime, but completed 13 of 18 passes with 142 yards on the day. All told, the Sooner quarterbacks attempted 46 passes without throwing an interception Saturday. “They weren't bad,” said offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley. “We didn't turn it over. We made some really nice throws.” Although fans were unsurprisingly excited to watch Murray — a former five-star prospect and arguably the greatest high school quarterback to ever play in the state of Texas — Kendall's performance was the more pressing concern. Because Cody Thomas quit football to focus on baseball, Trevor Knight transferred to Texas A&M and Murray is ineligible to play next fall because of NCAA transfer rules, Kendall will be Mayfield's backup next fall. The first drive with Kendall behind center Saturday resulted in a touchdown when he glided into the end zone for a 2-yard score. “I thought I did OK,” said the freshman from Waxhaw, N.C. “Started out pretty good but as things went along, I missed some reads. I just need to get back in the film room from there and work on my mistakes.” Riley praised Kendall's maturity as a true freshman being thrust into a tough situation. He said that physically, Kendall has been better than he would have expected. “He just gets better and better,” Riley said. “This kid should be getting ready to go to prom, and here he is playing in front of a great crowd today, and he handled it great. He had a great look in his eye from the beginning.” As for Murray, Riley said he expects he will handle his year off the right way. After all, he's got a great example in Mayfield, who had to sit out the 2014 season after transferring from Texas Tech. In Mayfield's first season as OU's quarterback, he was a first-team All-American and led the Sooners to a Big 12 title and the College Football Playoff. “I wasn't here two years ago, but there was certainly a sense from talking to people around the program that Baker had done a pretty good job of that even when he wasn't playing,” Riley said. “That was important for the leader he became for our team last year. Kyler has a pretty good blueprint to follow.”
NORMAN — Oklahoma picked up its 12th commitment for its 2017 recruiting class Thursday evening with Grant Calcaterra’s verbal pledge. Calcaterra announced his commitment on Twitter. He is ranked as a three-star athlete by Rivals.com, although he is projected as a wide receiver/tight end. Calcaterra currently plays at Santa Margarita Catholic High School in Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif....
Oklahoma football: Sooners pick up commitment from three-star athlete Grant Calcaterra
Jason Kersey | Apr 7, 2016NORMAN — Oklahoma picked up its 12th commitment for its 2017 recruiting class Thursday evening with Grant Calcaterra’s verbal pledge. Calcaterra announced his commitment on Twitter. He is ranked as a three-star athlete by Rivals.com, although he is projected as a wide receiver/tight end. Calcaterra currently plays at Santa Margarita Catholic High School in Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif. Calcaterra chose the Sooners over offers from Boston College, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisville, Nebraska, Northwestern, Oregon State, Texas A&M and Utah, among others. His commitment could be just the beginning of a very fruitful weekend for the Sooners, who are hosting several top prospects for Saturday’s spring game.
Apr 6, 2016
Currently, there are three OU student assistants — Matt Foster, K.C. Gundy and Joe Castiglione Jr. — but NCAA rules place no limits on the number of such volunteers allowed at each school.
Oklahoma football: Student assistants work long, unpaid hours in pursuit of a dream
By Jason Kersey | Apr 6, 2016NORMAN — They hold up those big boards with random, sometimes amusing imagery like toilet paper, pieces of fruit and professional sports logos that signal calls to Oklahoma players during games. Sometimes you might catch a glimpse of one standing on the sideline with a clipboard, charting games. Or maybe you have been in a restaurant line with one on any ordinary week night when they have been sent to pick up food and bring it back to the football offices. These are Oklahoma's student assistants, undergraduates with a full-time course load who also work full-time, but unpaid, hours completing menial, thankless tasks in service of the Sooner football machine and in pursuit of a career that is difficult — and sometimes downright impossible — to attain, even for those who did play college football. Currently, there are three OU student assistants — Matt Foster, K.C. Gundy and Joe Castiglione Jr. — but NCAA rules place no limits on the number of such volunteers allowed at each school. “There are only so many guys crazy enough to do something that intense while you're in school and not getting paid,” said offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley, who himself took that unconventional path into coaching 13 years ago as a Texas Tech student assistant. Although student assistants work mostly behind-the-scenes with no fanfare — you won't find them listed with other support staff on OU's athletic website or in the media guide — a couple of their names are certainly recognizable. K.C. Gundy and Joe Castiglione Jr. are the sons of inside receivers coach Cale Gundy and OU athletic director Joe Castiglione, respectively. K.C. played high school baseball at Norman North and planned to eventually walk on at Auburn under coach Sunny Golloway, the former OU baseball coach who has been friends with the Gundys for years. But K.C. began having elbow problems before his senior season and decided to give up the sport. His original plan was to eventually become a baseball coach, but instead enrolled at OU and began working toward a football coaching career. K.C. works directly with his dad. “He travels with me; he's in the meeting rooms with me,” said Cale Gundy. “On the sidelines, I talk to Lincoln and I talk to him. It's special.” Castiglione Jr. always knew he wanted to either coach or go into athletic administration like his father. After playing high school football at Mount St. Mary, the younger Castiglione decided against a small-college playing career and enrolled at OU. Last season was his first in this role. “Organized sports have really been my entire life,” said Castiglione Jr., who helps linebackers coach Tim Kish. “I wanted to stay close to it. Coach (Bob) Stoops mentioned early in my senior year that this could be a possibility.” For other undergraduates who don't have those family connections, it usually comes down to getting a good recommendation from a high school coach. Matt Foster was a part-time starter at Stratford High in Houston, but is smart and was always drawn to football strategy. So his high school coach put Foster in touch with former OU offensive coordinator Josh Heupel. The Sooners recruit the Houston area heavily, and current OU junior offensive lineman Christian Daimler played at Stratford. “I'd never been around a big college football program, so at first you're a deer in the headlights,” said Foster, who will be a senior in the fall. “Everything moves at such a fast and intense pace. The biggest thing is really just getting used to that intensity every single day.” Foster works with outside receivers coach Dennis Simmons, who called Foster “invaluable.” “In our meetings, he gives me a player point of view on my teaching and how I'm relaying the message,” Simmons said. “From a coaching standpoint, you're around football all day and you talk football all day. There are little nuances that you may think aren't a big deal, because you're around it and you're doing it all day, but for a kid who's having to deal with class and other aspects of just being a student-athlete, you can lose track of that.” The titles “student coach” or "student assistant" can be a tad misleading. NCAA rules restrict actual on-field coaching to the 10 full-time coaches and graduate assistants. That means guys like Gundy, Castiglione and Foster are mostly cutting up film, entering data, charting practices and running errands. A student assistant, during the season, usually works some in the morning, goes to class, returns to the football offices for meetings and practice, then continues working until late in the evening. And that's all before writing papers or completing any homework. “It's a sacrifice,” said Castiglione Jr., “but I always try to remind myself when I'm working on homework late at night that it's all gonna pay off in the future.” The scary thing, though, is that despite the experience student assistants are getting and the connections they're making, it's still tremendously difficult to break into college football coaching, and that can go double for those who never played football in college. Only eight of the 128 current Football Bowl Subdivision head coaches weren't college football players. “There are guys coming back who were All-Americans, Heisman winners trying to get jobs,” said K.C. Gundy. “It'll be tough.” Tough, but not impossible — especially if you have connections. After four years as an OU student assistant working with both Heupel and Riley, Zak Kromer recently landed a gig as an offensive assistant with the NFL's Buffalo Bills. His father, Aaron, is offensive line coach. “Really, the payment, in my mind, was the opportunity to learn football, go to school, get my degree and have an opportunity after I graduated,” said Zak Kromer. “You're learning to work with programs on the computer, the film, Excel … you're learning how to run meetings like the coaches do. I learned so much more than if I would have played in college.”
Corey Wilson's annual 'Ball for a Cause' OU alumni game moving from hardwood to the softball diamondApr 5, 2016
In each of the past three Aprils, “Ball for a Cause” was a charity basketball game featuring former Sooner football players that was played the night before the OU spring game.
Corey Wilson's annual 'Ball for a Cause' OU alumni game moving from hardwood to the softball diamond
By Jason Kersey, Staff Writer, firstname.lastname@example.org | Apr 5, 2016NORMAN — Sometime in the last few months, former Oklahoma wide receiver Corey Wilson decided his annual “Ball for a Cause” athletic alumni event needed a makeover. In each of the past three Aprils, “Ball for a Cause” was a charity basketball game featuring former Sooner football players that was played the night before the OU spring game. But many of the participants still have professional athletic careers to consider. “It's fun, but with these guys, it gets very competitive,” Wilson said with a laugh. “We've thought about changing it, because a lot of these guys are getting ready for (NFL) camps and things like that. “This kinda takes the scare out of it.” This year's “Ball for a Cause” game will be of the softball variety. Around 40 OU alumni from several different athletic programs will gather at Marita Hynes Field at 10:30 a.m. Saturday for a friendly game to raise money for Wilson's Find A Way Foundation, which he founded in 2015 to support people with spinal cord injuries. Tickets are $10, with children ages 12 and under receiving free admission. Wilson's life changed forever February 27, 2009, when his SUV collided with a pickup on I-35 and rolled off the highway, throwing him 45 feet and leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. At the time, he was a sophomore OU receiver. In the seven years since that accident, Wilson has graduated from OU and tried a few different careers. He was an assistant football coach at Dallas' Parish Episcopal last fall and plans to do that again next season, but lately, he's discovered passion in helping others who have experienced the same trauma he did, and working to raise awareness and money for spinal cord injuries. The first “Ball for a Cause” game in 2013 raised money for the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation and the Bob Stoops Champions Foundation, and the second in 2014 also raised funds for the Ryan Broyles Foundation. Last year's event was the first to support Wilson's own charity. He admits that it's been a work in progress, but just within the last week, the Find A Way Foundation won a $10,000 grant from KIND Snacks Causes. “After all the help that I had from Sooner fans and the program after my accident, it's been in my heart to do something like this,” Wilson said. The Find A Way Foundation is working with Neuro Resources Outreach Services, which is the Oklahoma chapter of the National Spinal Cord Injury Association. He's hoping that with the recent grant and the proceeds from Saturday's event, his group can help seven to 10 individuals with spinal cord injuries who can't afford wheelchairs. “Life is so much more than you, and what you're going through, and what you need,” Wilson said. “If you have a chance to be able to help somebody out the way that you've been helped, hopefully that can start a domino effect. That's what I've learned.” Saturday will represent the first time that the “Ball for a Cause” game will be officially affiliated with OU's Varsity O Club. Legendary OU running back Joe Washington is the Varsity O Club's executive director and will throw out the first pitch Saturday. “Softball is more conducive to having everybody involved,” Washington said. “Male, female, young, older. That's what it's all about.” So in addition to former football players like Aaron Colvin, Allen Patrick, Charles Tapper, Frank Alexander and Ryan Broyles, the game will also include others like OU softball great Lauren Chamberlain and former Sooner soccer player Whitney Palmer. And another special treat for those in attendance? A very familiar face behind home plate calling balls and strikes. “It'll be fun,” said the game's umpire, legendary OU football coach Barry Switzer. “It's always great to see the athletes come back. “In all the years I've been at Oklahoma, this weekend has always been special. I'm looking forward to it.”
Apr 4, 2016
NORMAN — Right after Oklahoma spring football practices ended last Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, junior walk-on Najee Bissoon showered, changed clothes and rushed out the door. There was legislation to be drafted, amended and debated. Bissoon was among OU’s participants in the Oklahoma Intercollegiate Legislature (OIL) at the Oklahoma State Capitol last week from Wednesday through Sunday. OIL...
Oklahoma football walk-on Najee Bissoon shines in a different arena at the State Capitol
Jason Kersey | Apr 4, 2016[img width="" height="" style="" render="w620"]4188905[/img] NORMAN — Right after Oklahoma spring football practices ended last Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, junior walk-on Najee Bissoon showered, changed clothes and rushed out the door. There was legislation to be drafted, amended and debated. Bissoon was among OU’s participants in the Oklahoma Intercollegiate Legislature (OIL) at the Oklahoma State Capitol last week from Wednesday through Sunday. OIL gives students at Oklahoma colleges and universities a chance to gain first-hand experience in the legislative process. There are representatives from virtually every college in the state. Bissoon played the role of a House member last week and was quite impressive, earning an award as the best first-year House delegate. Bissoon, who made the switch from safety to running back this offseason, is from Summer Creek High School in Humble, Texas. He originally walked on at Houston Baptist but transferred to OU after his freshman season. After Bissoon tweeted some photos from his time at the Oklahoma Capitol, he picked up his first endorsement from OU outside receivers coach Dennis Simmons. “I’m saying it now,” Simmons tweeted Monday, “I’ll vote for this kid one day.”
Apr 3, 2016
NORMAN — After Geno Lewis made the decision to leave Penn State and play his final college football season elsewhere, Oklahoma began emerging as his best option. So he placed a phone call to Justin Brown, another wide receiver who made that exact move less than four years ago. “He told me that Coach Stoops was really good to him,” Lewis said. “He said he's gonna give you all the...
OU football: Former Penn State receiver the latest addition to Sooners' impressive transfer list
By Jason Kersey, Staff Writer, email@example.com | Apr 3, 2016NORMAN — After Geno Lewis made the decision to leave Penn State and play his final college football season elsewhere, Oklahoma began emerging as his best option. So he placed a phone call to Justin Brown, another wide receiver who made that exact move less than four years ago. “He told me that Coach Stoops was really good to him,” Lewis said. “He said he's gonna give you all the opportunity in the world as long as you hold up your end of the deal, and that's all I can ask for.” Once Lewis arrived in Norman, he found two quarterbacks who will be throwing passes his way could also relate. Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray transferred to OU from Texas Tech and Texas A&M, respectively. All told, Oklahoma has added seven transfers from NCAA Division I programs since May 2012. Lewis and Murray are the latest to make that move, with Lewis — who graduated from Penn State in December — immediately eligible to play for the Sooners in 2016. And Lewis undoubtedly comes at a great time for Oklahoma, which is seeking to replace Sterling Shepard and Durron Neal off last year's Big 12 championship and College Football Playoff squad. “Geno's been invaluable to us both on and off the field with his maturity, the way he approaches practice and the way he approaches classes,” said outside receivers coach Dennis Simmons. “He's able to be here because he graduated early. That says a lot about his character. “He is a walking, living example of what any college coach would want their players to become.” Lewis was a four-star prospect out of Plymouth, Pa., when he signed with Penn State in 2012. He redshirted his first year on campus and ended up starting 18 games between 2013 and 2015. His best season, by far, came in 2014, when he started 11 of 13 games and caught 55 passes for 751 yards and two touchdowns. He was passed on the depth chart last season, and his numbers dipped to 18 catches and 234 yards. “I wanted more opportunities after last year and the amount of catches I had and how I was being used,” Lewis said. “I thought it was time for me to make a decision to get more opportunities.” Lewis' high school coach began researching and contacting potential transfer destinations, and Oklahoma was very interested. Once the Nittany Lions granted Lewis his release, Sooner coaches were able to have direct contact with him. After that, the process was pretty quick and straightforward. OU coaches have some experience in this department. “It manifested itself in about a 48-hour period from there,” Simmons said. Of the seven Division I transfers to Oklahoma in the last four years, four have been receivers — although Dorial Green-Beckham, who transferred from Missouri in the summer of 2014, never played a down for the Sooners. The first two of those receiver transfers came before the 2012 season. Brown transferred to OU in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky scandal and Jalen Saunders transferred from Fresno State the same season. Both had success during their time in Norman, giving Lewis plenty of reason for optimism. Brown recorded career highs in catches, yards and touchdowns during his one season at Oklahoma and became a sixth-round NFL Draft pick. In two seasons as a Sooner, Saunders caught 123 passes for 1,558 yards and 11 touchdowns. He was a fourth-round draft pick. And of course, Mayfield's transfer ended up being a remarkable success. He was a first-team All-American and finished fourth in Heisman Trophy voting last season. Lewis has immediately become a leader in a position group loaded with talent and lacking experience. His quick assimilation into the OU program is evidenced by the playful nicknames his new teammates have bestowed upon him. “They call me ‘Grandpa,' ‘Old man,' things like that,” Lewis said with a smile. “I like being the older guy, somebody to talk to, look up to and things like that and just trying for all of us to get better every day. “It's fine. I got a lot of miles on these legs.”
Apr 1, 2016
During a week in which the Final Four is front and center, the sports world is fawning over Buddy. His skill. His smile. His shot. Fans love all of that, but when we asked fans to tell us what they loved most, a NewsOK.com survey tilted heavily toward two characteristics.
Why fans love Sooners star Buddy Hield
By Jenni Carlson Columnist firstname.lastname@example.org | Apr 1, 2016HOUSTON — After splashing a deep three with the shot clock running down and the Oregon defense in his face, Buddy Hield let them have it. Not the Ducks but the Oklahoma fans. The Sooner superstar celebrated the moment last Saturday in Anaheim with the crimson faithful. No trash talking the green. No staring down a Duck. And in a living room halfway across the country in Houston, Kevin Gordon pointed at the television. The Oklahoma native and Sooner fan is always on the lookout for teachable moments for his teenage son, Blake. This is how you do things. This is how you should act. "We use Buddy Hield as an example of being great the right way," Gordon said. "You don't have to trash talk or play with rage to be a fierce competitor. You can point to Buddy and say, 'Do it like that.'" Why do fans love Buddy? Let us count the ways. During a week in which the Final Four is front and center, the sports world is fawning over Buddy. His skill. His smile. His shot. Fans love all of that, but when we asked fans to tell us what they loved most, a NewsOK.com survey tilted heavily toward two characteristics. More than a third of fans said his story. More than a quarter said his sunny disposition. But talk to fans and drill down a bit, and you'll find it's really the combination of those two traits that have captivated fans. Hield came from an impoverished family and a country with little hoops history, but through relentless work, he turned himself into the best shooter, nay, the best player in the country. And he did it with a smile. The bad. The good. The outrageous. All of it. He's a walking, talking example that you can be successful if you work hard enough — and that you can handle it with grace and joy. That comes across to those who've seen Hield from afar and those who've seen him up close. Daniel Turner lives in Vinita, and he's never ventured from the northeast corner of the state to Norman for a basketball game. But these past few years, he doesn't miss the Sooners when they're on TV. He'll even tape the games and watch them again. He does it largely because of Buddy. "Buddy is what's so great about sports, in that if you work really hard you will get better," Turner, 46, said. "Nobody has worked harder." Andrew Quinn witnessed it personally. During Buddy's sophomore season, Quinn was a manager and practice player for the women's basketball team. The women started practice an hour or so before the men, but Quinn would come to the arena and find Hield already there. "Almost every single day, I walked by those practice gyms Buddy was in there by himself just shooting," Quinn said. "And it looked like he had been in there a while." That endeared Hield to Quinn. But then one day in the training room, Quinn was getting a bum ankle taped when Hield ended up on the table next to him. The two had never spoken before, but Hield, already a budding star, struck up a conversation. The topic? Quinn's checkered blue socks. "He acted like he had known me forever," said Quinn, 23, who graduated from OU two years ago and now works with a sports agency in Dallas that trains professional basketball players. "I've been around a bunch of professional athletes now, and lots of them can act like they are better than you with their noses in the air." Not Buddy. "Literally one of the nicest and most genuine guys." Buddy is so lovable that even die-hard fans of other schools can't help but love him. Jayhawks. Longhorns. Even Cowboys. Kendria Cost bleeds as much orange as any Oklahoma State fan. She oversees OSU's Coaches vs. Cancer efforts. She goes to pretty much every football and basketball game on the calendar. But after Hield's performance at Kansas, Cost found herself standing in front of her TV giving him a standing ovation. "I love the game of basketball, and as a fan I appreciated the effort — regardless of the color he wears," she said. "My question is, if you follow basketball at all, how can you not like him? ... He is humble. He works hard. He has faith. He knows his role. He's a team player. He always wants to be better. He doesn't, for lack of a better term, showboat." Which brings us back to Kevin Gordon's living room in Houston. That's where he's watched a lot of OU games with his son, Blake. The younger Gordon plays football for his big-class high school, and his dad is always looking for examples of not only what can be accomplished with hard work but also how the resulting success can be handled. Hield has been a gold mine. "It is obvious he is a cold-blooded winner," Gordon said. "He is not afraid to win the game. He wants to take the shot, and his teammates want that as much as he does. That dynamic is earned through competition. "It is refreshing to watch a kid do that with a life-loving smile, character, demeanor and behavior you want your kids to demonstrate when they are competing." Those are life lessons. Those are teachable moments. But as much as anything, those are reasons for fans' Buddy love. Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125 or email@example.com. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.
It’s easy to overlook Ryan Spangler amid Oklahoma’s hail of three-point shots, but if you’ve ever banged bodies with the Sooners power forward under the basket, he probably left a mark. One that was black and blue.“He relishes being a tough guy,” Oklahoma assistant coach Steve Henson said of Spangler, a 6-foot-8, 234-pound senior who helped the Sooners win last week’s NCAA West Regional in...
Ryan Spangler gives Oklahoma an inside presence in run to Final Four
By Mike DiGiovanna, Associated Press | Apr 1, 2016It’s easy to overlook Ryan Spangler amid Oklahoma’s hail of three-point shots, but if you’ve ever banged bodies with the Sooners power forward under the basket, he probably left a mark. One that was black and blue. “He relishes being a tough guy,” Oklahoma assistant coach Steve Henson said of Spangler, a 6-foot-8, 234-pound senior who helped the Sooners win last week’s NCAA West Regional in Anaheim to advance to Saturday’s Final Four against Villanova. “We’re not the most physical team in the country. We’re not a big, bulky, strong, bang-’m-up team. We run-and-gun and shoot a lot of threes. But Ryan loves being the enforcer, lining up and battling guys in the paint.” Oklahoma (29-7) relies on the long-range shooting of guards Buddy Hield, who dropped 37 points on Oregon in the regional final and averages 25.4 points a game, Jordan Woodard (13.0) and Isaiah Cousins (12.8) for the bulk of its offense. Spangler, who averages 10.3 points and 9.2 rebounds, provides the much-needed muscle to tangle with opposing big men. “I do the dirty work, whatever I can to help the team win,” Spangler, 24, said. “I think every team that wants to be good has to have someone like me. I’m not the most athletic, the tallest or the longest, but I can guarantee you that no one is going to outwork me.” Spangler is relentless, attacking the rim on offense and the backboard on defense with ferocity and often frustrating opponents — and their fans — with his pesky, in-your-face play. “I enjoy being an antagonist,” said Spangler, who has already earned a degree in business. “A lot of people don’t like it. Our fans love it. I’m probably the most hated player for other teams, but I’m going to keep playing like I do.” Asked where his motor comes from, Spangler said, “I think from my mom.” LeAnn Spangler, 57, is a retired special education teacher who coached high school basketball for 15 years. “I don’t sit down very much; I’m a goer,” she said by phone from the family home in Tuttle, Okla. “I could never sit down when I had kids in the classroom, and it’s the same now. I don’t sleep much. I wake up and never turn on the TV. I always have something to do. I just don’t slow down.” Spangler’s father, Larry, is a drilling engineer for an oil and gas company, but he also coached high school football and basketball for 17 years. Ryan, born in October 1991, said most of his birthdays were celebrated in locker rooms. In fact, within 24 hours of birth, Ryan was at a game. “He was born on a Thursday at 3 a.m., and we had a Friday night game,” his mother said. “It was homecoming, and I just don’t miss games.” Spangler has two older brothers, Rob, 33, and Rustin, 31, who played football at Southeastern Oklahoma State. Ryan, who starred in football (as a quarterback) and baseball as well as basketball at Bridge Creek High, about 25 miles west of Norman, grew to be even bigger than his brothers. “They beat me up all the time when I was little,” Ryan said, “but they won’t touch me now.” Spangler wasn’t recruited by former Oklahoma Coach Jeff Capel out of high school. Asked why, Spangler said, “Stupidity, I guess.” Spangler signed with Gonzaga before Capel was fired in March 2011. He played his freshman season (2011-2012) in Spokane but grew homesick. Released from his scholarship, he transferred to Oklahoma, which had hired Lon Kruger as coach. After sitting out the 2012-2013 season, Spangler joined Hield, Woodard and Cousins in the lineup as a sophomore in 2013-2014. The quartet has started 104 consecutive games in three years, developing an on-court chemistry and off-court bond that helped fuel the school’s first Final Four run since 2002. “We’ve spent a lot of time together on and off the court, learned a lot about each other,” Spangler said. “They’ll be my friends forever. But I think the biggest thing is we know where each other’s going to be on the court. We know what each other is going to do. We can be accountable to each other, so it’s good.” Spangler teamed with forward Khadeem Lattin to outplay an Oregon front line that was bigger, quicker and more athletic last Saturday. The Sooners had more offensive rebounds (11) in the first half than the Ducks had total rebounds (10) and scored 15 second-chance points. Spangler has averaged 33 minutes a game this season and has not fouled out, important because the Sooners’ reserve forwards — Jamuni McNeace and Dante Buford — are freshmen. “One thing that gets overlooked is we lean on him to be our enforcer and tell him to do it without fouling,” Henson said. “Most teams we play flail away with no concern for fouls because they’re deep and have big benches. We need Ryan for 34-36 minutes a night. To know you have to fight like crazy without fouling is kind of unfair sometimes.” ——— ©2016 Los Angeles Times Visit the Los Angeles Times at www.latimes.com Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC. _____ Topics: t000003277,t000040506,t000003183,g000362661,g000065603,g000066164
Mar 31, 2016
The Final Four arrives in Houston this week for the third time. NRG Stadium, which you knew as Reliant Stadium when it opened in 2002, also hosted the 2011 Final Four, won by Connecticut. Houston’s first experience hosting the Final Four was in 1971, when UCLA beat Villanova for the championship. Reader Dave Fisher of Perry sent me a great story about those days. I thought it was worth...
1971 Final Four in Houston a memorable trip for the Perry basketball team
Berry Tramel | Mar 31, 2016[img width="" height="" style="" render="w620"]4180910[/img] The Final Four arrives in Houston this week for the third time. NRG Stadium, which you knew as Reliant Stadium when it opened in 2002, also hosted the 2011 Final Four, won by Connecticut. Houston’s first experience hosting the Final Four was in 1971, when UCLA beat Villanova for the championship. Reader Dave Fisher of Perry sent me a great story about those days. I thought it was worth sharing: “In 1971, my senior year at Perry High School, our new high school basketball coach ( a progressive who had us wear low cut Adidas while all the rest of Oklahoma was still wearing Chuck Taylor Converse high tops), decided that the boys basketball team needed to see first large football arena Final Four in Houston, at the Astrodome. “So all school year we raised funds. Now, raising funds in 1970-71 was a little different than today (lots of bake sales during high school wrestling matches (bigger crowds in Perry than for basketball games), donkey basketball exhibitions and the gals’ RedHeaded Traveling Basketball Team playing the high school varsity. “But in the end, we raised enough funds to go to Houston for the Final Four. Most of our team, including myself, had never in our 17-18 years been to Texas (how times change), but accompanied by the coaches and a couple of interested fathers we journeyed through Norman, Dallas and into Houston for an adventure of a lifetime listening to David Gates and Bread the entire trip! “We were lucky enough to stay at the Sheraton Hotel south and west on Kirby from the Astrodome (before Loop 610), where a couple of teams stayed (Kansas and UCLA). This was the Final Four of UCLA (Sidney Wicks and Curtis Rowe), Kansas (Dave Robisch), Western Kentucky (Jim McDaniels) and Villanova (Howard Porter). A great lineup for a small town basketball team which was never able to get respect in a wrestling town. But we were on Cloud 9. “It was a great trip except as ‘boys will be boys,’ a few of us went out in Houston one night, took a cab to a movie in 3D that let’s say would never play in Perry and was about airplane attendants). “On the way back to our rooms, we were just a little worked up as high school guys loose in a big town would be, and we got into the hotel elevator with two young ladies 12-14 years of age. “Well, one of the guys pushed all the floor buttons and scared the young ladies. They got anxious and began to cry. After a few floors of this, the doors opened and they ran into the arms of their father, a tall basketball coach. Ted Owens. “Well, needless to say we incurred some pretty severe wrath from the coach. It was a memory not to forget. Unsure if he got more upset with his players, but with this being a family issue, he might not have. “So, Berry, as you venture to Houston and look out from Reliant Stadium to the Astrodome and to Kirby and 610 just visualize some teen rubes from Perry, America, in total awe being at the Final Four in 1971. UCLA won the national championship that year as they always did during that time. They still played the third place game then also. “Enjoy the trip and Boomer Sooner! Looking forward to your travel grams in The Oklahoman. “P.S. The Perry basketball coach, Richard ‘Boo’ Little, left coaching after that season to come to OU and head up the University of Oklahoma OCCE program for over 30 years. He was originally an OU quarterback recruit in the late ‘60s who I believe at one time was ahead of Bobby Warmack on the depth chart until a knee injury ended his football career.” Now that’s a heck of a story. But I wanted some confirmation. Dave Fisher mentioned that one of his classmates and teammates was Ed Kelley, who went on to become managing editor of The Oklahoman, was a huge influence in my career and who now is dean of OU’s Gaylord College of Journalism. So I contacted Ed for his remembrance of that weekend in Houston. Here’s what Ed had to say: “David Fisher is right about the trip. I don’t remember the fund-raising piece but do recall driving there in coaches’ cars, watching the games from left field (with the court essentially over second base) and meeting up at one point with Wicks, Rowe and Henry Bibby, who were dressed to the nines in the African-American fashion of the times. “I wasn’t involved in the other story David tells, of coming in on the elevator and meeting Ted Owens. “I do remember sitting in left field, with a group of extremely well-dressed Villanova fans 3-4 rows in front of me and my best friend on the team. One of my clumsy teammates, sitting right behind these folks off Philadelphia’s Main Line, was trying to wedge his way back to his seat while juggling an enormous soft drink. You guessed it, he spilled the drink all over the head and shoulders of this couple — she in a dress and he in a navy blazer. I’m not sure I have laughed as hard since. “Boo Little was our coach, as David said. He left Perry after that season and came to OCCE, where he has been ever since. Boo came to Oklahoma to play football in the mid-1960s from (I think) Las Vegas and was a QB prospect. But the story I always heard was that injuries derailed his career. “Wrestling as you know was (and probably still is) king at Perry High School. We went 10-10 that year, our season ending in the first round of the playoffs. But we had a lot of fun, and the trip to Houston was something that none of us had ever experienced.” So there you have it. Forty-five years ago, a Final Four in Houston gave some boys from Perry the chance to meet Ted Owens, UCLA’s stylish stars and some unfortunate Villanova fans, who may or may not make their return to Houston for another Final Four this week.