NORMAN — Roy Williams wasn't supposed to jump.
His coach told him two or three times not to do it. His experience told him that disobeying those orders, especially in the Red River Rivalry, would get him a tongue lashing.
But how is Superman supposed to fly without jumping?
“When we walked on that field ... I already knew in my mind I was leaving my feet,” he said. “Forget what coach said.”
It's been 10 years since the Oklahoma safety defied orders, flying over the Texas line, smacking into Longhorn quarterback Chris Simms and leaping into Sooner lore.
In a series that annually produces a memorable moment — it'll happen this Saturday, just watch — no play has been more iconic than the one that transformed Williams into Superman. A hundred-plus years of OU-Texas has never produced anything else like it.
Williams remembers it well.
Then again, he's reminded of it almost daily.
Holding a precarious 7-3 lead in the 2001 edition of the rivalry, the Sooners were forced to punt with a little over two minutes left in the game. But when return man Nathan Vasher muffed the punt, it pinned the Longhorns at their own 2-yard line.
A media timeout brought the Sooner defense together on the sideline. Co-defensive coordinator Mike Stoops called for a blitz, a look the Sooners had used earlier in the game and a play that didn't end so well for Williams.
“I tried to, not Superman, but jump over the guy,” he said, “But the guy's helmet hit me in the groin. Tore me up.”
He laughed at the memory.
He wasn't laughing then.
Neither was Stoops. As the Sooners huddled, he pulled Williams aside.
“Do not jump,” he told him.
“OK,” Williams replied.
“Do not jump.”
It's a little like telling someone not to think about the color red, isn't it? As soon as you do, that's the only think they're thinking about.
Jumping was all that Williams could think about.
“I knew when we were running that play,” he said, “with our D line, that hole was going to open up.”
He also knew that Texas running back Brett Robin would try to take out his legs.
“He would never try to hit me high because I'll just run him over,” said Williams, who had more than 20 pounds on Robin. “So I knew he was going to go low.”
The Longhorns stepped to the line, and as Simms went through his calls, Teddy Lehman showed blitz, coming to the line. Williams joined him in the gap in front of the left guard for a moment, then backed off.
It was a bluff.
“I was comin',” Williams said. “I was blitzin'.”
That's not all he was doing. In that instant he backed off the line, he decided he was jumping, too.
“I'm going for it,” he thought. “I know he's going to get me low. I'm going to try to go over him.”
Everything happened exactly as Williams expected. The hole opened when Lehman and the nose guard pulled to their left. The blocker went low.
Williams launched himself toward Simms, nearly taking the ball right out of his hand.
“I knew when I was up there ... “ he said.
He stopped himself.
“Like I was really high.”
He laughed again, but he was a good five or six feet off the ground. He really was soaring through the air.
“When I jumped, seriously, I was literally thinking about what we need to do — secure the tackle, then go for the ball,” Williams said. “I wasn't trying to take the ball out of his hand.”
When Williams hit the ground, he rolled on his side a bit. He was just in time to see the ball fluttering into the hands of Lehman, who took two steps and was in the end zone.
Williams popped up and threw down the Hook ‘Em Horns hand signal.
“I don't know how many seats that end zone holds,” Williams said, “but everybody that comes up to me always says, ‘Man, I was in the end zone when that happened.'
“I'm like, ‘C'mon, now. Really?'”
That's the thing about iconic moments, though. Sooner fans have seen it so many times and talked about it so many times and relived it so many times that they feel like they were there.
OU-Texas, after all, is where players can make names for themselves and where stars can solidify their status as legends.
During the Stoops era, Josh Heupel and Rocky Calmus did it in 2000. Adrian Peterson did it in 2004.
But no one else has done it quite like Roy Williams did in 2001.
“There will be more Roy Williamses,” he said. “There will be more Adrian Petersons. There will be more Josh Heupels.”
He paused, a stern look on his face.
“I seriously don't think there's going to be another Superman play.”
He laughed, a break in his deadpan.
Williams, by the way, got a bear hug from Mike Stoops after the play that afternoon at the Cotton Bowl. But he got an earful from the coach, too.
“I told you not to jump.”
Superman had already taken flight.