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Saluting Sooner Seniors on Offense
November 12, 2013

Sweet 17, Other Key Stats 

Opponents at Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium have come away with a loss every time they’ve run onto the field in 2013. Saturday’s contest against Iowa State marks the final game to play. The Sooners have fed off OU fans’ energy all season long, including three Big 12 wins. With a win against the Cyclones, OU could check off its 11th perfect home record in 15 seasons under head coach Bob Stoops.

Seventeen seniors will be honored on Saturday, along with military personnel and OU champions. These Sooners have helped Oklahoma be the winningest Big 12 team over the past two years, no conference club owns more victories than the 17 accumulated by the Sooners, including seven so far in 2013. OU’s two losses have come to teams that have a combined 11-0 Big 12 record.

On top of it all, Stoops can tie Hall of Fame coach Barry Switzer for the most victories in OU history with 157. Altogether, it should be another outstanding day to enjoy the unique atmosphere that happens when Oklahoma gets together for Sooner Football #OneMoreTime.

Saluting Sooner Offensive Seniors

From the backfield to the wideouts to the men in the trenches, the Oklahoma offense has been carried by seniors who have made large impacts during the time in Norman, helping OU to two Big 12 championships and four bowl games.

Running back Brennan Clay is the Sooners’ leading rusher this season and has 1,513 rushing yards going into the weekend. Clay also spent his first three seasons as a kickoff returner, leading the Big 12 in kickoff return average in 2012. Clay thrilled Sooner Nation last season when he scored the game-winning touchdown in a 51-48 overtime victory over Oklahoma State. Oh, by the way, he also racked up 157 rushing yards last season against Iowa State.

“I think Brennan is a guy that’s been extremely consistent in who he was on and off the field,” said co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel. “He’s got a great energy, he’s been extremely positive for this program, he’s been a great leader in the way he prepares every week. I think those are just a few of the things that will be his lasting impression on the program.”

Clay’s fellow running back Damien Williams will also make his final home appearance this weekend. A transfer who began his OU career in 2012, Williams has a current total of 1,371 yards. The 2012 All-Big 12 player started his Sooner career with a bang last season, rushing for over 100 yards in his first two games, including a 156-yard, four-touchdown performance against Florida A&M.

Roy Finch rounds out the Sooner’s senior running back trio. Joining Clay and Williams in a group of 70 Sooners in program history with over 1,000 yards rushing, Finch has totaled 1,346 yards in 43 career games. Also one of the best kick returners in OU history, Finch had a 100-yard return vs. Kansas last season, good for a school record.

One of the most well-respected players in recent Sooner history, fullback Trey Millard is a three-time All-Big 12 honoree who has done it all for Oklahoma, excelling at running, catching, blocking and providing kick return coverage in his time at OU. A native of Columbia, Mo., Millard played in 48 career games in his career before suffering a season-ending ACL injury this season against Texas Tech. Millard finishes his career ranked third in OU history for receptions by a running back with 70 career catches. He owns 677 career receiving yards with seven touchdowns, as well as 98 carries for 538 yards and six touchdowns. In addition, Millard is also a three-time Academic All-District honoree.

Three Sooner wide receivers will also be honored Saturday. Despite suiting up for OU for the first time five games into the 2012 season, Jalen Saunders finished third on the team last season in receptions and receiving yards and leads the team this year. Saunders has five 100-yard games in his career, including a career high 181 yards last year against Notre Dame in a game in which he tied the OU single-game record with 15 receptions. The Elk Grove, Calif., native has also returned punts for OU, including an 81-yard return for a touchdown in OU’s overtime win against Oklahoma State last season.

Wide receivers Jaz Reynolds and Lacoltan Bester will also be honored Reynolds is one of 29 players in OU history with over 1,000 receiving yards, totaling 1,155 yards on 63 receptions with six touchdowns. Bester, who has played in 21 games in just under two seasons at OU, recently has showed off his versatility by throwing, catching and rushing for touchdowns this season, the first OU player to do so in the same year since 1970.

Along the offensive line, guard Bronson Irwin will play in his final home game. Irwin has 18 starts in 43 games played at OU, including every game this season. Fellow offensive lineman Gabe Ikard and Austin Woods (see articles below) will also be recognized.

In addition, this season’s Don Key Award honoree, will also be announced on Saturday. The Don Key Award, presented annually to a senior who exemplifies all-around excellence in the classroom and on the field, is one of the football program’s highest honors. Key was a three-year starter for the Sooners, an All-Big 8 guard and potential All-American until cancer surgery ended his football career in 1981. Barry Switzer established the Don Key Award in 1982.

Ikard Awards Recap

Senior center Gabe Ikard has had a week full of honors leading up to his final game at Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on Saturday, honoring him for his outstanding achievements as an all-around student-athlete.

A captain for a second consecutive year in 2013, Ikard has started in 46 of the 48 games he has played in his career at both center and guard as he leads an offensive line for a Sooner running game ranked second in the Big 12. The Oklahoma City native is also a two-time All-Big 12 honoree.

“As smart as they come as a football player and obviously in the classroom, as well,” Heupel said. “He’s a guy that cares deeply about this program. It meant something for him to come here and play, it means something for him every day, and that’s why you see him prepare and practice the way he does every single day. He’s played at an extremely high level for four years.

“He’s been versatile – been able to move from guard to center and back and forth,” the former OU quarterback continued. “He’s done a tremendous job this year and learned some of the things we’ve asked him to to control some of our protection and run game in a different way. He’s got a bright future ahead of him in the game of football but in the game of life, as well.”

After being named a midseason All-American by USA Today, Sports Illustrated and CBSSports.com, Ikard has been named a semifinalist for the Wuerffel Trophy and the Senior CLASS Award, each honoring individuals for their performances on and off the field. Fans are encouraged to vote for Ikard at seniorCLASSaward.com through Dec. 16.

Graduating from OU with special distinction in May 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in multidisciplinary studies – biological sciences and a 4.0 GPA, Ikard was named a 2013 National Football Foundation Scholar Athlete Award winner and will receive an $18,000 post-graduate scholarship in addition to being a finalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy awarded to the best scholar-athlete in the nation.

One of only 13 men named a 2013 Big Man on Campus at the University of Oklahoma and to the 2013 Letzeiser Honor Award list (the highest academic honor a graduating senior may receive from the University of Oklahoma), Ikard has also served extensively in the community and internationally, from aiding in helping families recover from the Moore tornado this past May to comforting orphaned children during a relief mission to Haiti in 2012.

He has been recognized on campus, in the Oklahoma area and nationally for his commitment to academic excellence, athletic excellence, community service, an unwavering faith and has exemplified the Sooner spirit.

Austin Woods Has Had an Awesome Time at OU

Another senior, one with less attention but an inspiring presence for the Sooners, will also play his game home game Saturday. Austin Woods, OU’s long snapper and a backup offensive lineman, was treated for Hodgkin’s lymphoma in the summer of 2012. Despite undergoing repeated chemotherapy treatments, Woods remained with the team throughout summer workouts and into the fall, finshing chemo on Oct. 1. One month later, he learned that the cancer was in remission. Woods’ positive outlook truly served as an inspiration to his teammates.

“Austin has been a great, great player here,” Stoops said. “A great teammate, has worked hard. Fighting through what he did to battle cancer while going through summer workouts and other than us making him sit out when he had to get his treatment – never missed a workout. Just an inspiration to our whole team, to us as coaches, and again the great person he is to go with all of that. The determination to overcome that and remain on the team when he could have easily taken the summer off. And then you know, to do all the long snapping this year. He’s been a big asset.”

Woods continues to be cancer-free this season and has played in 45 career games, including every game this season, and is a two-time Academic All-Big 12 honoree.

“You know you get goosebumps every time you run out of the tunnel in front of 85,000 fans screaming ‘Boomer, Sooner’ so it is just a great time getting to play in front of the home fans,” Woods said.

While Woods doesn’t know what the future may hold, he does know that he wants football to be part of it.

“Honestly, I have no idea. Maybe I could be deep-snapping in the NFL, maybe if that doesn’t work out, I really want to coach. That’s what I want to do... I want to coach college.”

When asked what he’ll miss most about playing at Oklahoma, Woods’ answer was just what you’d expect from a guy who’s beaten plenty of tough opponents, but none tougher than cancer.

“It is really special to come and live your dream and play the game you love.”

OU vs. Kansas State Set For 11 a.m. Kickoff

The Big 12 Conference announced that the football game between the University of Oklahoma and Kansas State is slated to kick off at 11 a.m. CT at Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium. The contest will be broadcast by FOX Sports 1. Please check the program guide for your cable or satellite provider for channel listings for FOX Sports 1 in your area. 

Oklahoma has registered four consecutive road wins against the Wildcats, holding a 35-10-1 edge in games played in Manhattan, Kan. The Sooners own a 71-18-4 all-time advantage against Kansas State.

Headington Hall Dedication

The University of Oklahoma’s Headington Hall will be dedicated in a public ceremony Saturday, Nov. 16, before the Oklahoma vs. Iowa State game.

The ceremony begins at 8:30 a.m. in the outside courtyard at the residence hall, 100 E. Lindsey Street. Speakers will include OU President David L. Boren, Director of Athletics Joe Castiglione, Chairman of the OU Board of Regents Richard Dunning and Tim Headington, for whom the hall is named.

Of the 380 students housed in Headington Hall, 180 are student-athletes. Located on the corner of Jenkins Avenue and Lindsey Street, southeast and across the street from Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, the 230,000-square-foot, six-story residence hall features apartment-style accommodations in two- and four-bedroom units. The building includes central dining, computer labs, study rooms, a theater and a faculty-in-residence unit. The $75 million facility replaces the former Sooner Housing Center comprised of Bud Wilkinson, Jefferson, and Jones Halls.

“Headington Hall is the finest residential facility of its kind in the country. We are very grateful to Tim Headington and other generous donors for making it possible,” said President Boren.

For more information about the dedication ceremony or for accommodations on the basis of disability, please call the Sooner Club at (405) 325-8000.

Ripkowski Named Burlsworth Trophy Nominee

Junior fullback Aaron Ripkowski was named one of 53 nominees for the 2013 Burlsworth Trophy on Tuesday.

The Burlsworth Trophy is given to the most outstanding collegiate football player who began his career as a walk-on. A walk-on is defined as a player who began his first season of participation with a Division I (FBS) football program without financial aid of any kind from his university’s athletic department.

Ripkowski has played in 29 games with four starts in his career, including nine games and three starts this season. The Dayton, Texas, native was honored with the Derrick Shepard as the club’s top walk-on in 2012.

The trophy is named in honor of Brandon Burlsworth, who walked on to the Arkansas Razorbacks in 1994, worked his way to being a three-year starter and was eventually named an All-American in 1998. Burlsworth was selected as the 63rd overall pick by the Indianapolis Colts in the 1999 NFL Draft but was killed in a car accident 11 days later. The Burlsworth Foundation was created in his memory and supports the physical and spiritual needs of children, in particular those children that have limited opportunities.

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