Oklahoma Sooners fullback Dimitri Flowers has made big plays

Sophomore had to learn to block before he could make plays on offense

Dimitri Flowers didn’t block before he came to Oklahoma.

At Churchill High School in San Antonio, he was a wildcat quarterback, a running back and a receiver – with more than 1,000 yards receiving and 500 yards rushing. He wasn’t a fullback, and Boise State, where Flowers was committed for six months, didn’t recruit him to be one. The Broncos wanted to use him all over the field.

Oklahoma wanted him to be the next Trey Millard, who Flowers called one of the greatest fullbacks in program history.

He jumped at the chance, knowing exactly how the Sooners used Millard. But first he had to learn to block.

“It’s all blocking. I’ve grown tremendously as a blocker, even from the beginning of this year,” Flowers said. “That’s one of the things ( Lincoln Riley has) told me, too. He said in order for you to get on the field more, you’re gonna have to prove that you can be a blocker.”

Strangely enough, the biggest individual play of his career thus far came because he stopped blocking. Knowing that the edge was secure in the final minutes of the fourth quarter Saturday night against Baylor, Flowers leaked away from the line – heading for his spot in the scramble drill.

After that it was what he had done for years before, running routes and catching passes. He founded himself alone just over the goal line, and Baker Mayfield found him to for the game-sealing touchdown.

“He’s one of the unsung heroes,” Riley said. “He’s athletic enough where people have to account for him in the throw game. If not, he’s going to get some opportunities. He’s been tough for us all year. That’s a physical position. There’s a lot of different kind of blocks that you ask that guy to do. He’s been a trooper for us.”

Flowers made another big catch down to the two-yard line to set up a touchdown in the dying seconds of the first half against Baylor. Not many will forget the first play against Iowa State either: A double reverse flea flicker to Flowers, who was alone behind the defense for a 75-yard touchdown.

“He’s one of those reliable guys that if you give him a shot, he’s always going to show up for you,” Oklahoma receiver Sterling Shepard said. “. . . He’s gonna give you those key plays. To have that type of guy on your team, that’s so unselfish, he’s just ready to make big plays, it’s just great to have.”

When Riley was first hired to run the Oklahoma offense, Flowers checked the stat sheet. He looked up and down East Carolina’s books looking for a full back or a tight end. There weren’t any – at least not any who made significant contributions to the offense. 

He was recruited in a power running scheme, learning the beginning stages of blocking from current NFL fullback Aaron Ripkowski. The air raid isn’t exactly known for being fullback-friendly.

Flowers was never discouraged though. He never thought about leaving the program, even as fans tried to figure out how he would be used in an offense that seemed to have no place for him. But Riley told him that the best players were going to play. Flowers had to trust him.

“It just took its time,” said Flowers, who said that he played a season-low 15 plays against Baylor but still made two of the biggest plays of the victory. “I feel like everything’s falling into place now. We’re getting rolling as an offense. I feel we’re more confident. Coach Riley knows what everyone can do with all of their different skill sets.”

Flowers is slowly starting to look like the Oklahoma true fullbacks that came before him: J.D. Runnels, Aaron Ripkowski and Millard. They were all plodders; physical and grinding players who had to wait for their chance to get the ball in their hands.

Ripkowski didn’t touch the ball until his senior year, but Runnels and Millard were both sprinkled into the offense as a freshman. Flowers’ touches are right in line with Runnels and Millard. First, Flowers has improved his blocking technique and footwork having to make a lot of different blocks.

Just like those two, he’s had to carve his own niche in the Oklahoma’s offense. Thus far, he’s done it.

“As he got better as a blocker and really understood what we’re doing, his role grew,” Riley said. “He’s gotten more opportunities to touch the ball. He’s made a lot of plays for us. He’s the reason that the role has expanded.”

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