Oklahoma Football Recruiting: Top 5 Overachievers of Bob Stoops Era
Oklahoma Sooner fans, like followers of other teams, are boning up on the incoming recruiting class and trying to keep their excitement about the upcoming season to a manageable level.
Looking at analyses of prospects can be very informative and interesting, but projections are called projections for a reason—nobody knows for sure if that 5-star recruit will pan out or if that 2-star prospect will somehow make it to the NFL.
Granted, scouting reports are a valuable tool, but they can't measure intangibles. They don't account for the players that transcend their perceived "limitations" and blossom as football players.
As OU fans bask in the glory of another promising class, here's a look at five Sooners from the Bob Stoops Era who should be praised for defying the odds and making the absolute best of what they had.
Scout labeled Carter a 2-star recruit in the class of 2005, mentioning his achievements as a dual-threat quarterback and basketball player for Cheyenne High School in North Las Vegas.
Carter made the absolute best of his five years in Norman, finishing his career with 221 tackles and eight interceptions in 29 total starts. He was also lauded for his community service efforts.
He parlayed his success into the NFL when the Broncos drafted him in the fourth round in 2011. In his young career, Carter can already brag about intercepting Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger. I doubt recruiting analysts were envisioning him doing that when they left him out of the prospect rankings in 2005.
The Tuttle, Okla., native earned a 2-star ranking from Scout in 1999. That didn't stop him from crafting one of the best success stories and a sensational career that earned him a Heisman Trophy, a Big 12 Championship and a monument immortalizing his accomplishments.
Despite tearing his ACL in both legs, White recovered from surgeries and threw for a then-record 40 touchdowns and 3,846 yards in 2003, locking up the Heisman and leading his team to the national championship.
In 2004, White threw for 3,205 yards and 35 touchdowns, winning the Maxwell Award, a Big 12 Championship and playing in a second consecutive BCS championship.
Unsurprisingly, he was a Heisman finalist as well.
Statistically, White has to be considered one of the best ever at OU; he is third all-time in touchdown passes and yards. But his legacy is elevated by an intangible quality: his sheer resiliency. For that, White will be forever remembered as one of the best to don the Crimson and Cream.
Clayton arrived in Norman in 2000 as an undersized and underwhelming prospect that had been unranked by Scout.
When Clayton left OU after the 2004 season, he had carved out his place among the all-time Sooner greats. A YAC master, he electrified fans and pulverized opponents en route to 221 catches, 3,241 yards and 31 touchdowns.
The 5'10," 190-pound escape artist was drafted 22nd overall by the Ravens, and he played for five seasons. Currently, he is with fellow OU alum Sam Bradford and the St. Louis Rams.
Clayton is a textbook example of someone who didn't let physical attributes impede his ability to be incredibly successful.
Bob Stoops can thank the lefty from Aberdeen, South Dakota for catapulting him into the pantheon of elite coaches and earning him his one and only national championship to date as a head coach.
Heupel made the phrase "Sooner Magic" relevant once again in 2000, when he led the Sooners on an improbable yet poetic run to the crystal ball in Miami.
Despite earning a ring and a trip to New York for the Heisman Trophy presentation, Heupel will never forget his humble roots.
After stints at Weber State University and Snow College in Utah, the gutsy southpaw transferred to Oklahoma in 1999, joining a young incoming defensive coordinator from Florida who had just accepted his first head coaching job.
In the end, the arrangement worked out pretty nicely for Heupel and Stoops.
"Q" made the most of his time in Norman, that's for sure. Listed by Scout at a generous 5'7", 195 pounds, Griffin is short, but not small.
An incredibly tough runner who dazzled fans by his ability to squeeze every last drop out of his runs, Griffin was a key contributor in his four seasons. He scored six touchdowns against Texas in 2000, a school record, and logged the only touchdown in OU's national championship victory over Florida State.
Griffin capped off his senior season with 2,148 yards from scrimmage and 18 touchdowns. Overall, he accumulated 4,973 yards from scrimmage and 49 touchdowns.
Q was drafted in the fourth round of the 2003 NFL draft by the Broncos. He appeared in 16 games for Denver, logging 656 yards.
He may not have been the most physically impressive player on the gridiron, but OU fans will always remember Q's incredible collegiate career.