Jack Mildren was born to be a winner on the field and off.
His exciting high school football career at Abilene Cooper High culminated in a State Championship appearance against Austin Reagan High in 1967.
Mildren then went on to sign with the Oklahoma Sooners where he would earn the distinction of being the "Godfather of the Wishbone."
"He came to us at the perfect time," legendary Sooner coach Barry Switzer said. "We could not have accomplished the things we did without him. He helped create the greatest rushing machine in college football. What a complete player, a complete person. He was a runner, a passer and a great leader. We recruited a lot of superstars out of the state of Texas and Jack was the first one."
In his senior year at OU Mildren was able to lead the team to an 11-1 record while rushing for 1,140 yards. The Sooners fell just short of a National Championship when they were knocked off by Nebraska (35-31) in what was later tabbed as the "Game of the Century".
"I just remember what a classy guy Jack Mildren was," Nebraska All-American Larry Jacobson informed. "In the Game of the Century, both teams were as high as we could get, and it's unfortunate somebody had to lose. Even though he had to be disappointed, I remember him coming over and shaking every hand he could on our team. That says a lot about him, and, I think, explains why he went on to do so many good things in life."
Mildren, who earned All-American honors for his performance at OU, went on to finish his playing career by spending three years in the NFL with the Baltimore Colts and New England Patriots.
Mildren may have lost the two-year battle against cancer on Thursday, but he was still a winner in many eyes.
"Jack's conduct through his illness was one of the most courageous things I've ever witnessed," Barry Switzer explained. "The way he lived his last years was a testament to the kind of man Jack Mildren was."
"From the perspective of our football program, Jack was a role model for every young man who wears the Sooner uniform," OU Head Coach Bob Stoops added. "He was gifted both athletically and intellectually yet was defined by his toughness and fortitude. He found his personal stardom by placing the team first and viewed his academic responsibilities as another opportunity to excel. After graduation he achieved his goals, while remaining loyal to his family and serving others. I don't know how any man could aspire for much more. We will miss him tremendously."
In 1990, Mildren became the 22nd Lieutenant Governor of Oklahoma.
"Jack Mildren represented all of the best qualities that define what it means to be a "Sooner." As an athlete he played with great heart and as a public official he always acted out of a deep love for our state," OU President David Boren relayed.