Sooner Superlatives: Players

I love big words. I love debating philosophy and ideology. Politics, history, and religion. But I also love this game called football, and I would be remiss if I didn’t have some fun, dumb it down, and talk some ball from time to time as I reminisce on my quickly fading college football career.

That being said, what follows is a jumble of bests and worsts of my career at Oklahoma (2012-2015).

Best Players I Played Against

*I only included players I actually PLAYED against. Players that I watched from the sideline in 2013 and parts of 2012 are not included. Neither are skinny DBs.

beasley

  1. Vic Beasley-DE/OLB- Clemson- As the rest of the NFL found out this year, Beasley is a DAWG. He possesses the unique combination of speed and power that makes him incredibly dangerous as a pass rusher. He is an absolute physical specimen that jumps off the film.
  2. Andrew Billings- NG- Baylor– At a level of football where nearly every interior lineman can bench 400 pounds, it is not often that you encounter a brute whose strength is truly amazing. When you lock on with Billings, you immediately feel that he is much stronger than anyone else you have ever blocked. He started as a raw talent, but got better each year. I hope he gets healthy so he can excel in the NFL.
  3. Grady Jarrett- DT- Clemson- He’s that stubby defensive lineman that just took down Tom Brady three times in the Super Bowl. At 6 feet tall, he doesn’t look like much, but he has phenomenal hand usage, and he reads blocks exceptionally. The exact opposite of Billings, he beats you with technique, which I respect.
  4. AJ Johnson- LB- Tennessee- The predator. The guy looks the part, and he flies around to the ball. He was not the most technically or schematically sound, and he took a lot of chances to make plays, but he made up for it with freakish athletic ability. Once a projected first-round pick, his career was derailed after allegations of sexual assault.
  5. Jalen Reeves-Maybin- LB- Tennessee– He is not nearly as freakishly talented as Johnson, but he more than made up for it. Within the system, he was probably a more reliable and productive player. With a relentless motor and physical playing style, he made plays all over the field. In 2015, he recorded nearly 20 tackles against us, several of which prevented what would have been huge plays. He missed much of this year due to injury and is now preparing for the draft.
  6. Derek Barnett- DE- Tennessee- Just a great all-around football player. He started against us as a freshman, and he steadily progressed each year. If I would have played him this year (his last and best), he would be higher on the list).
  7. Ryan Mueller- DE- Kansas St– The poor man’s JJ Watt. This guy played harder than any other player I have ever witnessed. I distinctly remember watching him on tape in a play against Oklahoma St. JW Walsh ran a zone read. Mueller squeezed causing JW to pull the ball and run for about 15 yards. Mueller spun 360 degrees and pursued Walsh all the way down the field causing him to step out of bounds. Even though he had no chance of even touching JW, much less tackling him, he dove through the air and landed flat on his face. He gave everything he had on every play.

Honorable mention (guys I didn’t actually play in the games against)- Haha Clinton-Dix (Bama), CJ Mosley (Bama), Arthur Brown (K-State), Jason Verrett (TCU), Stephone Anthony (Clemson- was suspended for most of our game)

Most Overrated Players

 

oakman
This picture is the reason Oakman got famous

 

  1. Shawn Oakman- DE- Baylor– I made this list with one man in mind. If it weren’t for Twitter memes, Oakman would’ve remained in relative obscurity where he belonged. He was very gifted, and the most physically imposing athlete that I have ever seen, but he was soft, incredibly lazy, and technically subpar. Even if he would not have gotten convicted, he would have never made it at the next level.
  2. Manti Te’o- LB- Notre Dame– Don’t get me wrong, Te’o was a very good player. But of all the players we played in my time in Norman, this is the one that was a Heisman finalist. He made a lot of tackles, but a lot of people didn’t realize that he made so many tackles because he was never blocked. Louie Nix, Stephon Tuitt, Sheldon Day, and Kapron Lewis-Moore were very good, and their occupation of double teams allowed Te’o to get recognition.
  3. Shaq Lawson- DE- Clemson– I remain adamant that Lawson was not nearly as impressive as he was made out to be. He might’ve been a better pass rusher, but Kevin Dodd (the other end) was a better all-around player. Lawson took a lot of plays off, and didn’t want to be physical unless he had to be.

4. Damontre Moore- DE- Texas A&M– When we played A&M in the Cotton Bowl, he was at the top of all the mock drafts. He had a lot of sacks, but statistics can be misleading. Most of his sacks came through protection errors, schematic mismatches, or sheer luck. His hips were incredibly tight, and we knew he wouldn’t live up to expectations as a pro.

The Best That Never Were

Sadly, there are a lot of teammates of mine that were insanely talented, yet they did not finish their careers as Sooners. They could have been household names. It’s crucial that the staff identifies potential at-risk athletes and invests in them early on to prevent these mistakes from being repeated year in and year out.

metoyer

  1. Trey Metoyer- WR– The guy was incredible. 5XL gloves. His hands were disproportionate to his body. In a backyard football game, he was everyone’s first pick. But in an organized offense, he had trouble with the playbook, and then eventually was removed from the team after some trouble with the law (I’ll just leave it at that).
  2. Gary Simon- Corner– This guy was the next big thing. He walked into the Huff first week of freshman year and windmill dunked off a standing vertical…. IN FLIP FLOPS. He played some as a freshman, and everyone was convinced he would become a lockdown corner opposite Aaron Colvin as a sophomore. Then he went home after the bowl game and never came back.
  3. John Michael McGee- OG– A raw but gifted Army All-American that quit abruptly three days into fall camp.
  4. Mike Onuoha- DE– Longest. Arms. Ever. The former basketball player was just starting to tap into his potential as a football player when he was removed from the team.
  5. Michiah Quick- Corner– Highly rated recruit that played early on at wideout, then moved to corner this past year. He was just starting to takeoff when he suffered a knee injury versus Texas. A month later, he was removed from the team.

I’ll be back soon with more bests and worsts, including: games, bowl experiences, teammates, and opposing gameplans. Be sure to check ’em out!

 

TD

 

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The Dereliction of Purpose

The late, great Jim Valvano asserted that there are three things that we should do as human beings: laugh, think, and cry.

I find myself spending more and more time doing the second of this triad: Thinking. I do not believe it is coincidental that my level of critical thought seems to be positively correlated to the amount of time I spend with my nose in a book.

Side note* My current reading selections are “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand, “Call an Audible” by Daron Roberts, and “Crazy Love” by Francis Chan. “Atlas Shrugged” might be the best piece of literature I’ve ever encountered. If you have book suggestions, please send them in!

A recent passage in a book brought the concept of Purpose to the center of my attention. From David to Aristotle to Einstein to Bieber, the preeminent philosophers of every age have weighed in on the purpose and meaning of life. But today, in a world oversaturated with information and overpopulated by things, we are at a crisis of purpose.

All too often, we derive our identity from the material objects we surround ourselves with. Cars. Clothes. Gadgets. Homes. But let’s take it a step farther. Job titles. Accolades. Reputations. Relationships. We are looking for meaning in all the wrong places.

The sources of our purpose have been contaminated. We have come to construct our identity using the material and immaterial creations of our own hands. I cannot help but feel that we have it all backwards. Man is meant to breathe purpose and meaning into the works of his hands and of his mind, not the other way around! Objects and ideas that are the fruit of Man’s considerable capacity for innovation and progress are meant to serve him, not to be served by him. These Things that seem to control our existence, would have no meaning were they not given it by their inventor. We impart purpose to things. We DO NOT derive purpose from things.

As my mind careened down this path of purpose, identity, and meaning, I stopped short. This line of thinking, with its celebration of the spirit of man, may be inspiring and stimulating and beautiful, but it’s so… Secular. Where is God in my rationale? Is this not a direct contradiction to my belief in an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God?

In the height my existential crisis, the answer hit me. Like finding the missing corner piece in an intricate puzzle, a sudden realization gave me unbelievable clarity. I had been thinking about it all wrong.

“Man and His Inventions”

Instead

“Creator and His Creations”

This paradigm shift made all the difference in my understanding. GOD, our Creator, endows Man with a distinct purpose, and then Man, in turn, creates for himself and bestows purpose upon his own creations. But purpose flows downward, from a sovereign God all the way to the inanimate byproducts of Man.

God ⇒ Man ⇒ Objects/Ideas/Words

In the above diagram, the arrows represent the purposes given by God and Man, which may not always be the same. The first arrow cannot be flipped, for we are incapable of forcing an omnipotent God to serve our purpose. But the second arrow can, and when we allow our own meaning and purpose as men to be taken from the things of this world, we will find ourselves consistently unhappy. We find ourselves at our most content when the arrows themselves are identical.

When we align ourselves with God’s purpose in our own lives, and then in turn manifest that same purpose in the material and immaterial things that we create, we will have found that we are in the center of His will.

TD

Off The Chain

“Stick to sports.”

 

“Stay in your lane.”

 

“That’s not for you to comment on.”

 

Throughout the career of many collegiate athletes, it is understood that there are some things you can talk about… and some that you can’t.

When articulating your viewpoint, whether it be from the podium or the Twitter keyboard, it is stressed that you represent your team and your university, and your commentary should reflect this fact. With that in mind, it is prudent for all athletes to creatively express their opinions within the confines of the official stance of the head coach and the university. If you don’t agree with the “official” statement, then you have two options: Deflect the question with a whirring waltz of words, or expertly employ the Fifth Amendment in your response.

And then there are the topics that are thought to be well-beyond your purview, deemed to be either too weighty or too whimsical to even be spoken of aloud by a witless, mindless brute of an athlete.

In a way, your degree of self-expression is chained by the status of your employment unsolicited amateur participation in college athletics (sorry for the typo).

While this restriction is self-imposed and necessary in my opinion, it can still be frustrating at times, particularly for those athletes that feel that they have more to offer the world in the expression of complex thought than they do in the demonstration of athletic ability.

For such athletes, their dreaded departure from the playing field doubles as their anticipated arrival in society.

For those athletes, the fear of marginalization in the “next stage of life” is quickly surpassed by an overwhelming sense of liberation when it is discovered that their minds and hearts can take them farther than their bodies ever could.

For them, to be removed from the playing field is not to be unvalued or undesirable, but to be unmuted, unleashed, and unchained.

A New Frontier

I know countless such athletes, but I write to you today because I am partnering with two of them that need no introduction: Lauren Chamberlain and Eric Striker.

Oklahoma v West Virginia

lauren

The three of us are working together to start a podcast that tackles all the topics we’ve been told to avoid for the duration of our careers. Of course, we will still talk sports a bit, but we will also talk faith, politics, pop culture, community service, social issues, health, and anything else that piques our interest.

What makes this partnership so special is that we are so different. Each of the three of us have profoundly different beliefs, backgrounds, and opinions. But we love each other, and we respect each other. Not in spite of our differences, but BECAUSE of them!

This is what I can promise you from our show:

  1. Uproarious Laughter

I am BY FAR the least outgoing of the group. These are three incredibly unique personalities, and whether we are talking about the most trivial of issues or the most consequential, I pledge that you will be entertained.

  1. Challenging Debate

We have been having fight-to-the-death, winner-take-all yelling matches for five plus years. Now, for the first time, you get to hear them. I promise that we will do our homework and articulately state our views. If nothing else, you will be forced to think.

Note to the listener* Remember… I am ALWAYS right

  1. Moving Commentary

We are intense, passionate individuals that see sports as a platform to make a positive impact on the world around us. We are dreamers that perceive no ambition to be beyond our reach. Our hope is that something we say can slightly alter your perspective and inspire you to be a force for change in your environment.

I hope that you will join us as we start out on this journey together. Follow us on social media for updates, and tune-in to our Facebook Live segments to interact with us weekly!

 

Without further ado, I am pleased to introduce the one to the other.

 

Front & Center, please meet Off The Chain!

offthechain

Follow!

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@OffTheChain_Pod

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Facebook

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Off The Chain

Let’s have some fun!

TD