Moment for 'Sooner Dave' a long time coming

OU running back David Smith waited a long time for his moment, and he made it count.

With 9:08 remaining in the fourth quarter Saturday, his moment finally came. He had been waiting two seasons, seven games and 50:52 into the eighth one.

The moment, at that point, that some Oklahoma fans were convinced was probably just never going to happen. And maybe OU redshirt sophomore running back David Smith started to believe it as well.

When Smith got his opportunity, he wasn’t about to let it go. He rushed for 76 yards on 10 carries and scored his first touchdown in OU’s 59-14 thumping of Iowa State.

“It was good to get Sooner Dave in there, and the players were excited about him,” OU coach Bob Stoops said. “That’s his nickname, ‘Sooner Dave.’ Everybody loved it. He ran great. Tough, physical, took care of the ball.”

There’s no might to this statement, there isn’t a more popular teammate than the man known as Sooner Dave. Smith, a three-star recruit out of Midlothian (Ill.) Bremen, was ranked No. 39 at running back.

Two years before he signed to play for the Sooners, he had already put the thought into his head of playing for OU. Following his sophomore season, Smith emailed OU running backs coach Cale Gundy to take a look at his highlight tape.

Here is that email:

“I do remember that,” Smith said. “I’ve never talked to Coach Gundy about that since I’ve been here, but I definitely remember that.”

Smith got his wish when multiple OU running backs left the program in fall 2011, forcing Gundy to start looking for a late bloomer. Sooner Dave was the answer as he chose OU over West Virginia, among many other options just weeks before signing day.

Smith created a Twitter account around the time of signing day, choosing SoonerDave25 for no particular reason. Pretty soon, though, the name started to stick. At first, it was some of the veterans giving him a hard time for having that moniker. But over time, it stuck and there was no negative connotation to go with it.

A redshirt year was certainly expected in 2012 and came as a shock to nobody. His redshirt freshman season could have been a chance in 2013, but true freshman Keith Ford arrived on the scene and worked his way into the lineup.

This season could have been an opportunity, but nobody knew just how huge of a role true freshman Samaje Perine was going to play for the Sooners.

It’s not fair to say Smith cannot get the job done, and he’s not bitter about the way things have worked out so far. He just knew he had to keep biding his time. It would come.

“It was great to see him get in there and have really good runs,” Perine said. “It was a great feeling for all of us. What stands out about him is how friendly he is. He’s one of the friendliest people you’re ever going to meet. He’s so easy to get along with.”

The road hasn’t been easy for Smith even before he got to college. Smith grew up with a speech impediment as he stuttered a lot when he spoke.

“When I was young, I hated to be called on during class,” Smith said. “Getting older and getting more opportunities to talk in front of people, has helped just getting that comfort and confidence.”

In high school, he knew things would be different. Starting to produce the big-time numbers, he was going to have to face the media. It was a learning process for him.

“When I got to high school, my coach would stay after with me and go over things,” Smith said. “Going over things I should say or might be asked about – to take my time with what I said.”

Smith isn’t just popular with teammates, he has been a sort of go-to guy with recruits. Smith has hosted several recruits during his time in Norman and has been a vital part in helping the Sooners land top recruits.

How does he explain his popularity? Because he cares.

“Every guy on the team I’ve talked to them I some way other than being on the team or at practice,” Smith said. “I guess when you get to know everybody on a personal level that happens.”

His first carry was a 17-yard gain. On the drive, Smith had seven carries for 54 yards. It appeared he might have been taken out because of getting so many carries in a row. But when you’ve waited this long as Smith has, it simply wasn’t going to happen.

“When I first got out there, it was like I had to get that first touchdown,” Smith said. “Even though I was tired, kept thinking about all the times I didn’t have the chance to play.

“There’s guys that are just as good as you, and when you get your chance… it took long enough. Let me put it like that, it took long enough.”

Smith was mobbed by his teammates after the touchdown. Through it all as one teammate came up after another, Smith had a more serious facial expression than you might think. But it’s understandable if you’ve been in his position.

It was a great moment for him and put into perspective all the hard work he has done to get to this point.

Following the game, the search was on for SoonerDave25 as he had deactivated his account a long time ago. He said social media takes up too much time, and you get in a bad habit of worrying about that instead of focusing on class and football.

But SoonerDave25 is back. He said he received so many texts after the game asking where he was on Twitter that he decided to return. He said he won’t be as active on it as he was before.

Smith has become a mentor in some ways to some of the younger guys. It’s always adjustment going from being the top dog in high school to just being one of the guys in college.

Some players handle it better than others, and Smith said he’s always there to give words of advice and encouragement. Former OU running backs Brennan Clay, Roy Finch and Damien Williams remain great friends with Smith today, and Smith gave them credit for where he is at now.

And family, saying his mother and all of his coaches have helped.

“Thing that keeps me going is just knowing what I’ve been through in my past,” Smith said. “I have two sisters and six nieces and just keeping that in mind. It’s so easy to quit, but it’s just not for me. It keeps me going, playing with a purpose.”


Sooners Illustrated Top Stories

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@OU_Football: pic.twitter.com/bkkoJwaqUw” That's my roommate!! Sooner Dave

— Baker Mayfield (@BM_ShakeIT11) November 1, 2014
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See what Sooner fans are saying here

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With 9:08 remaining in the fourth quarter Saturday, his moment finally came. He had been waiting two seasons, seven games and 50:52 into the eighth one.

The moment, at that point, that some Oklahoma fans were convinced was probably just never going to happen. And maybe OU redshirt sophomore running back David Smith started to believe it as well.

When Smith got his opportunity, he wasn’t about to let it go. He rushed for 76 yards on 10 carries and scored his first touchdown in OU’s 59-14 thumping of Iowa State.

“It was good to get Sooner Dave in there, and the players were excited about him,” OU coach Bob Stoops said. “That’s his nickname, ‘Sooner Dave.’ Everybody loved it. He ran great. Tough, physical, took care of the ball.”

There’s no might to this statement, there isn’t a more popular teammate than the man known as Sooner Dave. Smith, a three-star recruit out of Midlothian (Ill.) Bremen, was ranked No. 39 at running back.

Two years before he signed to play for the Sooners, he had already put the thought into his head of playing for OU. Following his sophomore season, Smith emailed OU running backs coach Cale Gundy to take a look at his highlight tape.

Here is that email:

[MEDIA:1423178]

“I do remember that,” Smith said. “I’ve never talked to Coach Gundy about that since I’ve been here, but I definitely remember that.”

Smith got his wish when multiple OU running backs left the program in fall 2011, forcing Gundy to start looking for a late bloomer. Sooner Dave was the answer as he chose OU over West Virginia, among many other options just weeks before signing day.

Smith created a Twitter account around the time of signing day, choosing SoonerDave25 for no particular reason. Pretty soon, though, the name started to stick. At first, it was some of the veterans giving him a hard time for having that moniker. But over time, it stuck and there was no negative connotation to go with it.

A redshirt year was certainly expected in 2012 and came as a shock to nobody. His redshirt freshman season could have been a chance in 2013, but true freshman Keith Ford arrived on the scene and worked his way into the lineup.

This season could have been an opportunity, but nobody knew just how huge of a role true freshman Samaje Perine was going to play for the Sooners.

It’s not fair to say Smith cannot get the job done, and he’s not bitter about the way things have worked out so far. He just knew he had to keep biding his time. It would come.

“It was great to see him get in there and have really good runs,” Perine said. “It was a great feeling for all of us. What stands out about him is how friendly he is. He’s one of the friendliest people you’re ever going to meet. He’s so easy to get along with.”

The road hasn’t been easy for Smith even before he got to college. Smith grew up with a speech impediment as he stuttered a lot when he spoke.

“When I was young, I hated to be called on during class,” Smith said. “Getting older and getting more opportunities to talk in front of people, has helped just getting that comfort and confidence.”

In high school, he knew things would be different. Starting to produce the big-time numbers, he was going to have to face the media. It was a learning process for him.

“When I got to high school, my coach would stay after with me and go over things,” Smith said. “Going over things I should say or might be asked about – to take my time with what I said.”

Smith isn’t just popular with teammates, he has been a sort of go-to guy with recruits. Smith has hosted several recruits during his time in Norman and has been a vital part in helping the Sooners land top recruits.

How does he explain his popularity? Because he cares.

“Every guy on the team I’ve talked to them I some way other than being on the team or at practice,” Smith said. “I guess when you get to know everybody on a personal level that happens.”

[MEDIA:1421023]

His first carry was a 17-yard gain. On the drive, Smith had seven carries for 54 yards. It appeared he might have been taken out because of getting so many carries in a row. But when you’ve waited this long as Smith has, it simply wasn’t going to happen.

“When I first got out there, it was like I had to get that first touchdown,” Smith said. “Even though I was tired, kept thinking about all the times I didn’t have the chance to play.

“There’s guys that are just as good as you, and when you get your chance… it took long enough. Let me put it like that, it took long enough.”

Smith was mobbed by his teammates after the touchdown. Through it all as one teammate came up after another, Smith had a more serious facial expression than you might think. But it’s understandable if you’ve been in his position.

It was a great moment for him and put into perspective all the hard work he has done to get to this point.

Following the game, the search was on for SoonerDave25 as he had deactivated his account a long time ago. He said social media takes up too much time, and you get in a bad habit of worrying about that instead of focusing on class and football.

But SoonerDave25 is back. He said he received so many texts after the game asking where he was on Twitter that he decided to return. He said he won’t be as active on it as he was before.

Smith has become a mentor in some ways to some of the younger guys. It’s always adjustment going from being the top dog in high school to just being one of the guys in college.

Some players handle it better than others, and Smith said he’s always there to give words of advice and encouragement. Former OU running backs Brennan Clay, Roy Finch and Damien Williams remain great friends with Smith today, and Smith gave them credit for where he is at now.

And family, saying his mother and all of his coaches have helped.

“Thing that keeps me going is just knowing what I’ve been through in my past,” Smith said. “I have two sisters and six nieces and just keeping that in mind. It’s so easy to quit, but it’s just not for me. It keeps me going, playing with a purpose.”

SOONER DAVE!!!

— Brennan Clay (@BrennanClay24) November 1, 2014

@OU_Football: pic.twitter.com/bkkoJwaqUw” That's my roommate!! Sooner Dave

— Baker Mayfield (@BM_ShakeIT11) November 1, 2014

See what Sooner fans are saying here

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