Two Former OU Football Players Make ESPN’s ‘Squandered Potential’ List

Jan 9, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; Hall of Fame inductees Bill Snyder (left) and Brian Bosworth (right) speak prior to the press conference at Renaissance Dallas Hotel. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 9, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; Hall of Fame inductees Bill Snyder (left) and Brian Bosworth (right) speak prior to the press conference at Renaissance Dallas Hotel. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /
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There have been some truly great OU football players over the years, but admittedly even some of the most highly coveted prospects don’t always pan out.

Nov 21, 2015; Norman, OK, USA; Oklahoma Sooners former player Brian Bosworth before the game against the TCU Horned Frogs at Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 21, 2015; Norman, OK, USA; Oklahoma Sooners former player Brian Bosworth before the game against the TCU Horned Frogs at Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports /

All of that somehow gets balanced out, however, by the fact that some of the players who don’t have gold-plated resumes coming out of high school or at the beginnings of their college career become diamonds in the rough and develop into outstanding athletes and exceed everyone’s expectations.

Football recruiting and star-ratings are far from an exact science. They say numbers speak for themselves, but what they don’t measure are heart, attitude or how skill and effort will translate at the next competitive level.

ESPN.com has come out with a list of 25 notable college athletes (not exclusive to just football players) who were ceremoniously built up with mounds of hype but who, in reality and in the words of the ESPN.com writers, fell “spectacularly short of expectations.

Two former Oklahoma Sooners made the list – Brian Bosworth and Marcus Dupree – which is headlined: “The Could Have Beens.”

Dupree, who coach Barry Switzer once called the most talented player he ever recruited, was No. 3 in ESPN’s top-25 ranking of athletes who seriously underachieved what was expected of them in their sport. Bosworth, who liked to refer to himself as the “The Boz,” was a one man wrecking machine at the linebacker position for the Sooner teams of 1984-86. The Boz was ranked No. 11 among the ESPN “Could Have Beens.”

Dupree was one of the most highly recruited players out of high school in Mississippi. Although he did not start until the seventh game of his freshman season at Oklahoma, he rushed for more than 1,000 yards that season (1982) and was named Football News’ Freshman of the Year, second-team All-American and Big Eight Conference Newcomer of the Year.

For all the speed and talent he possessed, Dupree was not the most conditioned of athletes, and that caught up with him his sophomore season at OU, when injuries kept him off the field. He left the program and school midway through that season. Although he played again collegiately at Southern Mississippi and as a pro in the former USFL (United States Football League), he was never again the same player, which is why he near the top of the ESPN list of players with severely unfulfilled potential.

You can relive some of the highlights of Dupree’s brief-but-memorable career at OU in this video clip.

Bosworth was a two-time consensus All-American at Oklahoma and the only player to twice win the Butkus Award as college football’s top linebacker. The ESPN “Could Have Beens” article has this to say about the former Sooner star:

"“The flamboyant star helped Oklahoma win the 1985 national championship, but he was a lightning rod of controversy.”"

Bosworth was the No. 1 overall pick of the Seattle Seahawks in the 1987 NFL Supplemental Draft. The Seahawks signed the OU All-American to what at the time was the largest rookie contract in NFL history (10 years for $11 million). The Boz’s NFL career lasted just three seasons.

In case you are curious, the top two athletes on the list, just ahead of Dupree, are former college and NBA players Greg Oden and Sam Bowie.