A list of the top 10 most important Oklahoma Sooners for the 2012 college football season was recently put together. Those are the players that will be key to a successful season, as Oklahoma sets its eyes on a Big 12 title and BCS bowl game.
One of those key players is quarterback Landry Jones, who is returning for his senior season. Some may not have liked the decision, but this is still one of the best quarterbacks in the country and you could make a case as to why he is one of the greatest Sooners of all time, with a year left to play.
Could he possibly be in the top 20 already of all-time Oklahoma players?
Here are some of the greatest Sooners to ever play, including Jones and where he ranks among these legends.
Derrick Strait played all four seasons from 2000-2003 and started 53 games, which is a Sooners record. He played the cornerback position and finished his career with 14 interceptions. He also holds a Sooners record with five fumble recoveries in a single season. Strait was a two-time All-American and during his senior year won both the Bronko Nagurski Trophy and Jim Thorpe Award.
He helped this team win a national championship in 2000, along with the Rose Bowl in 2003.
Rocky Calmus was also a key member of that 2000 national championship team, as he was a three-time All-Big 12 member and a two-time consensus first-team All-American. He was the starting linebacker from 1998-2001 and won the Butkus Award his senior year, along with being named the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year twice.
Calmus led his team in tackles in his final three seasons and finished his career with 431.
Rod Shoate played linebacker in the early '70s for the Sooners and helped lead this team to a national championship in 1974. He is a four-time Big-8 player and was only the second Oklahoma player to be named an All-American three times. He finished his career with 420 tackles and led his team in that category the final three seasons of his career.
From 1972-1975, Joe Washington was arguably the best running back in college football. In 1974 he finished third in the Heisman voting and led the Sooners to back-to-back national titles. He is a two-time All-American and finished his career with 4,071 rushing yards, which was a school record at the time. His 40 career touchdowns was also a school record.
Washington is now a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and was the fourth overall pick in the 1976 NFL Draft.
Kurt Burris was an All-American center and linebacker during the 1950s and finished second in the Heisman voting in 1954. He was known for being a fantastic blocker on offense and playing with a nasty streak on the defensive side of the ball. His overall record at Oklahoma was 35-4-2, but due to the school being on probation, the Sooners were denied any possibility of being declared national champions.
Burris became a member of the College Football Hall of Fame in 2000.
Mark Clayton was a beast on the offensive side of the ball and on with special teams. He was a two-time All-American his junior and senior season. He also set every Oklahoma receiving record imaginable, including most receiving yards in a career (3,220), most receiving touchdowns in a career (23) and most receptions in a season (83). Clayton also holds the Sooners record of having 10 receptions of 40 yards or more.
Clayton was a big reason the Sooners reached two national championship games during his career.
Running back Billy Vessels helped lead the Sooners to a national championship in 1950. In 1952, he became the first Sooner to win the Heisman Trophy, as he rushed for more than 1,000 yards and 17 touchdowns. Vessels finished his career with 2,085 rushing yards and 35 touchdowns.
He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1974.
Jason White overcame injuries throughout his career and became the first Oklahoma quarterback to win the Heisman Trophy in 2003. He was a consensus All-American, won the Davey O'Brien Award and broke several Oklahoma records. He was a Heisman finalist in 2004 and finished his career with 7,922 passing yards and 81 touchdowns.
Landry Jones does not get the love he deserves throughout college football or Oklahoma. Sure, his 41 interceptions is a major turnoff, but we are talking about a guy that is rewriting the record books and has one year left to go.
He is already Oklahoma's all-time leading passer with 12,379 yards, and fifth all-time in the conference. He holds the single-game record with 505 passing yards. He also has the most passing touchdowns of any other quarterback in Sooners history with 93. Keep in mind folks, this is still with a year left to go.
We know the numbers are there without question, now it is time to win something. Jones is 3-0 in bowl games throughout his career, but he needs to put this Oklahoma team in position for a prestigious bowl and possibly a national championship. Regardless, Jones will continue to move up the board. But if he can snag another BCS bowl win and become a Heisman finalist, we could be talking about top five, instead of top 10.
Jammal Brown came to Oklahoma as a highly recruited defensive player but switched to the offensive line during his sophomore year. The move quickly paid off, as he won the Outland Trophy in 2004 and did not allow a signal sack that season. Brown was a key blocker in the Sooners rushing success and became an All-American his senior year.
Tony Casillas was a two-time All-American and is known as one of the best defensive linemen to ever play for the Sooners. He helped lead Oklahoma to a national championship in 1985 and became only the second Sooner to ever win the Lombardi Award that same year. He finished his career with 214 tackles and 18 sacks.
Casillas was only the second Hispanic player to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame and he later became a member of the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame in 2008.
Tommy McDonald did everything for Oklahoma back in the 1950s, as he led the Sooners in receiving, passing and rushing in 1955. He was a two-time All-American and became the first Sooner to score a touchdown in every game during a complete season.
What is probably the most amazing stat of all is that McDonald never lost a collegiate game, as the Sooners finished 31-0 from 1954-1956.
Sam Bradford is one of the most accomplished quarterbacks in college football history. He became only the second underclassman to win the Heisman Trophy in 2008 and led his team to a national championship that same season. He was a consensus All-American, first-team Big 12 and became the first Oklahoma player to top 8,000 passing yards in a career.
When Bradford left for the NFL Draft he had nearly every school passing record. If he didn't suffer a shoulder injury during his junior season and miss the majority of the 2009 season, his numbers could have been unreachable.
Steve Owens was the man during the late 1960s for the Sooners, as he became a consensus first-team All-American in 1969 and the second Oklahoma player to win the Heisman Trophy. His 23 rushing touchdowns in one season is still a school record and he graduated with 57 career touchdowns, which was a record as well.
Owens helped lead the Sooners to two conference championships and became a member of the College Football Hall of Fame in 1991.
Keith Jackson was a two-time All-American in 1986 and 1987. Despite being on a run-first team, Jackson still managed to average over 23 yards per reception throughout his career. The Sooners racked up a 42-5-1 record with Jackson on the team and won a national championship in 1985 over the Penn State Nittany Lions.
Jackson finished his career with 62 receptions for more than 1,400 yards and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2001.
Adrian Peterson was one of the most complete running backs the college game has ever had the privilege of watching. He set the NCAA freshman rushing record with 1,925 yards in 2004, finishing second in the Heisman voting and the highest ever finish for a freshman in college football history. Peterson was also a first-team consensus All-American and rushed for more than 1,000 yards in all three seasons despite missing a portion of his sophomore and junior years.
If Peterson manged to stay healthy throughout his career he would have become the leading rusher in Oklahoma history and had a case for the No. 1 player in Oklahoma history.
Besides this play that will forever make Roy Williams an Oklahoma legend, he had a very productive career. He played a big part in the 2000 national championship team and set school records with 12 tackles for loss by a defensive back and 22 passes defended.
Williams won the Jim Thorpe Award, Nagurski Trophy and was a unanimous All-American and first-team All-Big 12 in 2001. He was one of the hardest hitting safeties you will ever see in college football and should always be remembered as one of the best Sooners to ever play.
Brian Bosworth may have been one of the craziest players to suit up for Oklahoma, but he is without question the best linebacker to play in Norman. He is a two-time first-team All-American and the only college football player ever to win the Butkus Award twice. He also holds the school record of 22 tackles in one game.
Bosworth may have had his fair share of off the field issues, but he was one of the best defensive players the collegiate level has ever seen and should be remembered for what he did on the football field.
Billy Sims is still the Sooners all-time leading rusher with 4,118 career yards, despite playing in the late 1970s. In 1978 and 1979, Sims led the county in rushing yards and scoring as well. He didn't see much action during the 1975 national championship season but did his part by scoring two touchdowns on only 15 touches.
Sims was a two-time consensus All-American, won the Heisman Trophy in 1978 and became a member of the College Football Hall of Fame in 1995.
Lee Roy Selmon played on the defensive line during the 1970s and helped lead one of the most dominant defenses college football has ever seen. He was on the national championship teams in 1974 and 1975. During his career, Oklahoma finished 32-1-1 and Selmon racked up awards such as the Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award.
He finished his career with 325 tackles and 40 sacks, and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1988. Slemon is not just the greatest Sooner to ever play; he is widely considered one of the best college football players of all time.