Oklahoma football: Ranking the Sooners’ six Heisman winners

NORMAN, OK - NOVEMBER 25: Quarterback Baker Mayfield
NORMAN, OK - NOVEMBER 25: Quarterback Baker Mayfield /
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No. 2 – Billy Sims, 1978 Heisman Trophy winner, OU running back (1975-79)

Billy Sims crossed the Red River to play football for head coach Barry Switzer at Oklahoma. He was a highly recruited running back out of Hooks, Texas, who believed he was a perfect fit for the Sooners vaunted Wishbone offense.

A couple of seasons went by, however, before Sims was able to stay on the field regularly and unleash his abundant talent. He played only sparingly his true freshman season as the backup to two-time consensus All-American Joe Washington. Then, in his first appearance in his sophomore season, in 1976, he suffered a season-ending knee injury.

Sims was devastated by the injury. :He had been highly recruited out of high school, and he wasn’t playing much at Oklahoma. He was worried that the season-ending injury would set him further back. He actually made up his mind to quit the Sooner football team, but Switzer managed to talk him out of it.

Instead of walkinhttps://youtu.be/r-oK05fI_SQg away, Sims came back in the 1978 season hungrier and better than ever. He rushed for a program-record 1,896 yards, a record that stood for 26 years before Adrian Peterson broke it in 2004 as a freshman. Sims scored 22 rushing touchdowns in 1978 and averaged 7.4 yards per rush. His performance in 1978 earned him the Heisman Trophy, the third awarded to an OU player, and the title he still proudly holds as the greatest running back in Oklahoma football history.

Sims had an equally productive season the following year and ended up leading the Big Eight Conference in both rushing and scoring in his redshirt-junior and senior seasons. He finished his career at Oklahoma with a program-best 4,118 rushing yards, a mark that stood until last season, when Samaje Perine became the OU career rushing leader with 4,122 yards.

Sims was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1980 NFL Draft, going to the Detroit Lions.

The former Oklahoma running back and Heisman winner is a regular attendee at the annual Heisman ceremony in New York City and is highly conspicuous by his appearance. He is the man you always hear yelling “Boomer” in the background, especially when the is an Oklahoma player among the finalists or a former Sooner Heisman winner is introduced.