Oklahoma Sooners: Barry Sanders

How OU has fared vs. Heisman winners 

December, 28, 2012
NORMAN, Okla. -- In just more than a week, Oklahoma will face Texas A&M and Heisman winner Johnny Manziel in the Cotton Bowl.

Facing the Heisman winner, however, has usually not been a positive for the Sooners. OU is 5-11 against Heisman winners in the season they captured the award.

In fact, since beating Florida State quarterback Chris Weinke in the Orange Bowl to take the 2000 national championship, the Sooners have lost three in a row to Heisman winners.

[+] EnlargeRonnell Lewis, Frank Alexander
Jerome Miron/US PresswireLed by Robert Griffin III in 2011, Baylor beat the Sooners for the first time ever.
SoonerNation breaks down OU’s history when pitted against the Heisman:

2011: QB Robert Griffin III, Baylor
The result: Baylor 45-35

Griffin Heisman’s moment actually came against the Sooners. Griffin torched OU for 479 passing yards and four touchdowns, including the game-winner with eight seconds to play.

2004: QB Matt Leinart, USC
The result: USC 55-19

The game featured the top four Heisman finalists, but Leinart rose to the top in the national title game rout. Leinart outplayed Adrian Peterson, and Jason White and threw for 332 yards and five touchdowns.

2001: QB Eric Crouch, Nebraska
The result: Nebraska 20-10

The Sooners corralled Crouch for much of the game. But in the fourth quarter, he hauled in a 63-yard touchdown off a double reverse pass to seal the Big Red victory and catapult Nebraska to the national title game.

2000: QB Chris Weinke, Florida State
The result: OU 13-2

During the coin toss, OU linebacker Torrance Marshall told Weinke that he stole his boy’s (QB Josh Heupel) trophy. Marshall and the Sooners then backed up their talk on the field. Against a tenacious OU defense, the 28-yard-old Weinke had the worst performance of his career, completing just 25 of 51 passes for 274 yards and three turnovers. Thanks to a defensive performance for the ages, the Sooners won their seventh national championship.

1998: RB Ricky Williams, Texas
The result: Texas 34-3

Against a hapless OU defense, Williams ran wild, scratching out 139 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries in a game that was over by the third quarter.

1994: RB Rashaan Salaam, Colorado
The result: Colorado 45-7

Against the 22nd-ranked Sooners, Salaam racked up 161 yards and four touchdowns on 25 carries. The Sooners spiraled after the crushing defeat and finished 6-6 in Gary Gibbs’ final season.

1988: RB Barry Sanders, Oklahoma State
The result: OU 31-28

In perhaps the most epic Bedlam game, Sanders dazzled with 215 yards and two touchdowns. But thanks to a little Sooner Magic, Brent Parker dropped the game-winning touchdown in the end zone and OU held on for the narrow victory in Stillwater.

1986: QB Vinny Testaverde, Miami
The result: Miami 28-16

In a showdown featuring the No. 1- and No. 2-ranked teams, Testaverde was awesome, throwing for 261 yards and four touchdowns. He also completed a school-record 14 straight completions. Thanks in part to his OU performance, Testaverde went on to capture 70 percent of the Heisman vote, though Miami would miss out on the national title after losing to Penn State in the Fiesta Bowl.

1983: RB Mike Rozier, Nebraska
The result: Nebraska 28-21

Spearheaded by Rozier's 205 rushing yards, the Huskers came from behind twice to pull out the win in Norman. Rozier would finish as the all-time leading rusher in Big Eight history and became the second player in FBS history to top 2,000 yards in a season.

1981: RB Marcus Allen, USC
The result: USC 28-24

Against second-ranked OU, Allen and the top-ranked Trojans rallied with a late fourth-quarter touchdown drive to stun the Sooners with two seconds remaining. Allen led USC with 208 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

1977: RB Earl Campbell, Texas

Wide receiver Sterling Shepard (Oklahoma City/Heritage Hall) took some time to reflect on what Wednesday meant to him but was already looking ahead to the future.

Shepard, who signed with Oklahoma, was one of four Heritage Hall football players to sign their letters of intent, easily the most in school history.

“These guys, they’ve been my boys for so long so this is a real special day,” Shepard said. “It’s time to close one chapter and start the next.”

Shepard was joined by four-star running back Barry J. Sanders (Stanford), three-star defensive end Quintaz Struble (Arkansas State) and two-star defensive tackle Markus Wakefield (Howard).

“It’s incredible that we’re all here after everything we’ve been through,” Sanders said. “It has been a great time. Now we’re all ready for what’s next.”

Shepard will be the fourth Shepard to play for the Sooners. His uncles, Darrell and Woodie, both played for OU as did his late father, Derrick.

Sterling Shepard admitted a day like Wednesday makes him think about his father.

“I’d like to think that if he was here right now, he would be proud,” Shepard said. “This has been my dream and getting to play at the same school as my dad and uncles means so much.”

Shepard is ranked No. 9 in the nation at wide receiver and is a part of the most highly-ranked group of receivers the Sooners have ever had.

And he has already made some friends.

“Yeah, me and Durron Neal are really tight,” Shepard said. “We talked last night and talked about how we just wanted to get this over with and get ready for the future.”

Neal and Shepard are going to be roommates. Neal had the honor of being the first OU signee to get his letter of intent get in as OU received his fax at 7:01 a.m. CT on Wednesday morning.
RecruitingNation airs at 3 p.m. ET today on ESPNU, and national analyst Craig Haubert and senior national analyst Tom Luginbill will discuss the new No. 1 team in the class rankings.

That team?

The Alabama Crimson Tide.

After landing five-star safety Landon Collins and four-star athlete Cyrus Jones at the Under Armour All-America Game last week, the Tide leaped ahead of Texas to become the nation’s No. 1 class.

Haubert and Luginbill will discuss other movers and shakers in the top 25 and reflect on recent commitments from players like Channing Ward, Barry Sanders Jr. and Jordan Jenkins. The analysts will also take a look at players whose stock increased after the recent national and regional all-star games.

RecruitingNation writers will contribute with a look at what's still on the board at Michigan and how USC is dealing with sanctions.

Trotter's Mailbag: A change in scheme?

December, 30, 2011
Jake Trotter answers readers' questions about Oklahoma football in his mailbag every Friday. Got a question for Jake? Submit it here.

Chris Wilkerson in Tahlequah, Okla., writes: Is Oklahoma changing their scheme any, offense wise? I heard maybe more option.

Jake Trotter: As long as Landry Jones is quarterback, OU will not be running the option. Even if/when Blake Bell takes over, it’s unlikely the Sooners run any option then either. Bell is a power-running quarterback like Kansas State’s Collin Klein or Tim Tebow. Not an option quarterback like Jamelle Holieway or Charles Thompson.

(Read full post)

It was one of the best performances Sterling Shepard (Oklahoma City, Okla./Heritage Hall) has had all season. It was so good that it earned him a spot in the Under Armour All-American Game.

Shepard finished with 153 rushing and receiving yards and four total touchdowns in a 55-10 win Friday night over Bethany, Okla., that was broadcast nationally on ESPNU Shepard caught five balls for 97 yards and three scores, and he also added a 40-yard rushing touchdown.

His efforts were rewarded immediately after the game with invitation to the Under Armour Game Jan. 5 in St. Petersburg, Fla. Shepard quickly and happily accepted the bid during a post-game interview.

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Q&A: OU WR commit Sterling Shepard 

October, 26, 2011
Expectations have not weighed down wide receiver Sterling Shepard (Oklahoma City/Heritage Hall).

Shepard, an Oklahoma verbal commit, is ranked No. 57 in the ESPNU 150 and is one of the most versatile players in the state.

He will become the fourth Shepard to play football at OU, joining his late father, Derrick, and his uncles, Woodie and Darrell.

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Heading into Thursday’s game between Oklahoma City Heritage Hall and Oklahoma City John Marshall, it didn’t figure to be much of a competitive battle on the field.

As Heritage Hall has shown time and time again the last two years, the Chargers took nothing for granted and took care of business in a 63-0 victory.

“You can’t overlook teams. You still have to execute and do what you know how to do,” wide receiver Sterling Shepard said.

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Visitors for Oklahoma-Florida State

September, 15, 2011
Here’s a list of recruits planning to attend Saturday's OU-Florida State game in Tallahassee.

Recruits with OU Offers:

Eddie Goldman (No. 1 DT on ESPN.com), Collegiate Academy (Washington, D.C.)
The Sooners are one of many teams to offer the 6-foot-4, 310-pound interior defender.

Jameis Winston (No. 1 QB)*, Hueytown (Ala.)
The Sooners offered Winston before his senior year -- and before he committed to the 'Noles.

Ty Darlington (No. 2 C)**, Apopka (Fla.)
Darlington spurned an offer from FSU to commit to the Sooners. He’ll be attending the game with his brothers to cheer on his future teammates.

Nelson Agholor (No. 7 ATH), Berkeley Prep (Tampa, Fla.)
One of the top uncommitted prospects in the nation, OU has offered Agholor but has some ground to make up to become a factor in his recruitment.

Marvin Bracy (No. 14 ATH)*, Boone (Orlando, Fla.)
The Sooners offered the speedy Bracy, but the 5-foot-9, 168-pound prospect has committed to FSU.

Laith Harlow (No. 24 TE)**, Godby (Tallahassee, Fla.)
Harlow plans to attend ESPN "College GameDay" festivities then return home to watch the game with family and friends.

Recruits without an offer from OU:

Barry J. Sanders (No. 6 RB), Heritage Hall (Oklahoma City, OK)
Chris Casher (No. 3 DE)*, Davidson (Mobile, Ala.)
Josh Harvey Clemons (No. 3 OLB), Lowndes (Valdosta, Ga.)
Kent Taylor (No. 4 TE), Land O’ Lakes (Fla.)
Mario Pender (No. 5 RB)*, Island Coast (Cape Coral, Fla.)
P.J. Williams (No. 6 S)* Vanguard, (Ocala, Fla.)
Dante Fowler (No. 9 DE)*, Lakewood (St. Petersburg, Fla.)
Justin Shanks (No. 10 DT)*, Prattville (Ala.)
Alphonse Taylor (No. 21 OT)*, Davidson (Mobile, Ala.)
Evan Goodman (No. 26 OT), Lakeland (Fla.)

* FSU Commits
** OU Commits

(Special thanks to ESPN recruiting guru Corey Long for compiling the list.)

Q&A: Heritage Hall RB Barry Sanders

September, 7, 2011
He’s an Oklahoma City native, but the dream for Heritage Hall running back Barry Sanders has never been to wear the crimson and cream of the Sooners.

The son of NFL Hall of Fame running back and Detroit Lions star Barry Sanders remains uncommitted, but the picture is beginning to become more clear.

Sanders has listed Florida State, Alabama, Stanford and Oklahoma State as his four favorites. He recently said he plans to announce his commitment the week of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio in January.

SoonerNation: You’ve named your four finalists and have stayed pretty firm with them. To the shock of nobody, OU wasn’t on that list. Were the Sooners ever a legit candidate?

Barry Sanders: I know I had talked to coach [Cale] Gundy at one point. At one point there could have been something there. Maybe not serious, but we were talking. When I went to an OU game, it was more kind of a test run than anything else. Seriously I couldn’t say they were in the running. I’d like to say I kept my options open as long as possible until I narrowed it down to these four.

SN: So if OU was never a serious player, was there a big reason as to why the Sooners never really had your interest?

Sanders: Just more of my background than anything else of being an OSU fan. I mean a lot of the guys that go to OU have been OU fans. Sterling [Shepard] with his dad being an OU guy... a lot of these schools, you know, the kids have been fans of that school for a long time. Go to Florida State, and they grew up Florida State fans. Go to Alabama, and it’s the same thing.

SN: OU offered Jenks running back Alex Ross almost immediately after signing day. Was that kind of a sign that the writing was on the wall?

Sanders: A little bit, but that wasn’t what decided it for me. I evaluated all of the possible schools. I couldn’t see OU being the place for me. I know it hurt a lot of people that I’m not going there. There were a lot of people wondering why. It just wasn’t the right fit.


Stoops, Players Want To Effect Change
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops sits down with Gene Wojciechowski to discuss his team's stand against racism.