Saturday night Oklahoma sophomore quarterback Sam Bradford walked away with The Heisman Memorial Trophy and into Oklahoma lore by joining a select group of former Sooners considered to be some of the all-time greats to ever wear the Crimson & Cream.
Bradford is the fifth player from OU to take home the award and his likeness will reside in the form of a bronze statue alongside past Sooner Heisman winners Billy Vessels (‘52), Steve Owens (‘69), Billy Sims ('78), and Jason White ('03) in Heisman Park at Memorial Stadium in Norman.
The Putnam City North High product is the second player to win the award in Bob Stoops' ten years coaching the university. Jason White was the first.
White threw for 40 touchdowns on his way to the Heisman in 2008, a mark that would be surpassed by Bradford in OU's 65-21 win over Texas Tech in a game that would catapult them towards the top of the BCS rankings.
Stoops admits that White would have been his pick for the greatest college quarterback that he has seen play, until Bradford changed his mind with his 48 touchdown performance in 2008.
"I love what Jason White did here," Stoops began as he tried to put Bradford's performance in to words. "It was incredible with his circumstances. And Josh Heupel did an amazing job in his short period of time. But what Sam has done for two straight years - I don't know how to explain it. It's uncanny at just how accurate he is. How consistent he is. Have you ever seen a bad ball? It's just amazing."
"His heart, his toughness and his competitiveness are second to none. The players love him because they see all that."
Bradford had a plethora of big plays out on the field this season, but his crowning moment may have come late in the third quarter of the Oklahoma State game.
With only a slim four-point lead over their bitter in-state rival, Bradford led a Sooner march down the field, and on third down he scrambled out of the pocket to his right and would dive for the end-zone. OSU defenders would meet him head on and spin him like a helicopter in mid air.
The play would fall just short of the goalline, but the John Elwayesque leap and sacrifice would spark his team and they would roll on to a 61-41 victory over the No. 12 Cowboys.
"I didn't want to go out of bounds," Bradford said. "I felt like we needed a spark. I wanted to get into the end zone."
Leading the most prolific offense in college football history, Bradford completed 302 of his 442 pass attempts for 4,464 yards with 48 touchdowns and six interceptions.
He led the nation in passing efficiency and also scored five rushing touchdowns and has the Sooners headed to the Fed Ex BCS National Championship Game in Miami, Fla., on January 8th.