Sooner Legends: Claude Reeds

J. Robert ByromCorrespondent IMarch 4, 2009

Born in Norman, Claude Reeds was both OU's original hometown hero and its first All-American in 1913. Reeds was big for the time at six feet, but only weighed 168 upon arrival at campus. He had three older brothers who had already played at OU. 

Though listed at fullback, he still holds the longest punt ever recorded at 102 yards against Texas in 1911.  He was an extremely accurate passer and defenses had to be just as ready for a up-field pass as a tuck and run. At a time when no one else in the South-West was passing, his arm made him invaluable to his teams. Despite being a fullback, a passer and a punter, he would also often line up as tight end in pure passing situations and was even more effective as a blocker than a receiver despite being undersized for the line and was considered the "best shoulder blocker I ever saw" by Bennie Owen. 

Reeds so scared other teams that in 1913, Missouri refused to play OU with Reeds on the team claiming he had used his eligibility for conference games despite not having enrolled on campus until 1910. Missouri told OU they would refuse their payout if OU did not play the game but said they would not play if Reeds was allowed to play.

Bennie Owen put it to a vote of the players and they voted to play the game. What Missouri did not know was his backup "Spot" Geyer was also a future All-American winning the award in 1915.  Missouri's tactic did work however edging the Sooners by three with OU driving deep in their own territory as time ran out. 

Having a fullback as a punter definitely has its advantages, especially when he is even more feared as a punter than a runner. Reeds most memorable play came on a fake punt in the last game of his OU career. The game was against Colorado and played at the OKC fairgrounds, though it was a clear day it had rained nonstop the two days prior leaving the field they played on more of a pig pen than a football field.  

In a game where neither team could move the ball due to the muddy field. Reeds 70-yard fake punt turned out to be the difference. Even in the mud, Reeds managed to avoid almost every buffalo on the field that play some more than once running back and forth across the field until he finally found a path to the end zone.

Claude Reeds legacy did not stop once he left OU, He always made it a point to be a gentleman when on the field and carried that mindset to Central Oklahoma where he was the head coach for ten years, during which he won eight conference championships.

Reeds was elected until the College Football Hall of Fame in 1961. Ten years after his coach, Bennie Owen, and 13 years before his own death in McClain, Oklahoma, on April 30, 1974.

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