Oklahoma Sooner Legend: Steve Owens

Tim BondCorrespondent IMay 31, 2009

Steve Owens was born December 9, 1947 in Gore, Oklahoma and was raised in Miami, Oklahoma.


His love of Oklahoma Sooner football began when he was just six years old. It was at that time when Oklahoma started their amazing 47 game winning streak. He was 10 when the streak ended.


He played halfback at Miami, OK High School. In his amazing high school career he averaged 7.2 yards per carry and gained over 4,000 yards.


In 1966 he arrived in Norman to play for the Oklahoma Sooners.


His freshman year, then assistant coach Barry Switzer could not decide where to play him. They almost decided to play him at Tight End before settling on Halfback.


Also in his freshman year, he skipped home games to be with his high school sweetheart. He stated that one weekend he went home to break up with her and ended up getting engaged instead. It seemed the married life agreed with Steve Owens.


In 1967, Owens Sophomore season, he help lead the Oklahoma Sooners to a 10-1 record. He rushed for 813 yards and scored 12 touchdowns. However, it was not until the following season when Steve started to gain some attention.


In 1968, Steve Owens gained over 1,500 net yards and 21 touchdowns. On four occasions, the UPI would name Owens to their National Backfield of the Week. He set Big 8 records for rushing yards in a season (1,536) and most net yards in two seasons (2,344).


Also in 1968, Steve Owens broke O.J. Simpson's record of most carries in one season (355) by carrying the ball 357 times. In which he received a phone call from Simpson predicting that Owens would win the Heisman in 1969. Simpson was the 1968 Heisman winner.


In 1969, Steve Owens kept racking up the records for the Oklahoma Sooners. He would go on to rush for at least 100 yards in a game 17 straight times, which still stands as the NCAA record. He would also go on to set since broken records of most career carries (905), most rushing yards (3867), touchdowns (57), and points (336).


Steven Owens would go on to win the 1969 Heisman Trophy, just like O.J. Simpson predicted.

Individual achievements were not that important to Steve Owens. In a game against Colorado in 1969, with Oklahoma winning 42-30 late into the game, Owens had not yet hit the 100 yard mark. He told his teammates, “Let's just fall on the ball and forget the 100 yard stuff. It's not that important”


That is when an offensive guard, Bill Effstrom fired back, “It might not be important to you, but it is sure important to us.” Owens would go on to finish the game with 112 yards and four touchdowns.


In 1970, Steve Owens was drafted 19th overall by the Detroit Lions, but separated a shoulder in a pre-season game. He only played six games that season rushing for 122 yards on 36 carries.


In 1971, Steve Owens became the first Lion to rush for over 1,000 yards. He finished the 1971 season with 1,035 yards on 246 carries. Being just the twenty-eighth player at the time to do so in the NFL.


In 1972, he had a 74 yard touchdown run and was also named to the All-Pro team.

His NFL career was shorten do to a plague of injuries starting in 1975 where he missed the entire season. He retired from the NFL in 1977.


Life after football has not been bad for Steve Owens, in some ways it may be better.


In 1991, Miami High School retired the number he wore (42). His brothers and a nephew also wore the same number while playing there.


He was also inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame and the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame in 1991.


In the mid 1990s, Steve Owens served as the Athletic Director of OU.


He currently owns a brokerage firm in Norman where he resides.


On September 2, 2007, Steve Owens had a statue dedicated to him in Heisman Park, east of Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, commemorating his Heisman Trophy career with the Oklahoma Sooners.


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