The Award-Winning Magazine Offering The Most Complete Coverage of Sooner Sports
More Recent Stories

Hall of Fame Bound

To The Point

Road Warrior

King's Corner

Road Warrior

Shane Beamer Q&A

King's Corner

Josh Norman Q&A

Queen's Corner: Keilani Ricketts

To The Point

King's Corner


Playoff Preview

Charleston Rambo Q&A

Red River Revival

Tyrese Robinson Q&A

King's Corner

Road Warrior

Top Gun

Catching On!

Versatile Playmaker

Hurts So Good

To The Point

To The Point

National Spotlight

Marquise Brown Q&A

Road Warrior

The Greatest Rivalry

Road Warrior

Hard Work

Road Warrior

To The Point

King's Corner

The Draft

To The Point

NFL Bound

Looking Back: Billy Vessels

Road Warrior

King's Corner

NFL Spotlight

Boomer Bio

Lincoln Riley Q&A

Keys To Success

End of an Era

Stepping Down

Dominating Force

2017 Recruiting

OU finished off a memorable 2016 season on high note

Road Warrior

Emmanuel Beal Q&A

Fast & Furious

Road Warrior

OU vs. Texas: By The Numbers

King's Corner

Steven Parker Q&A

Orlando Brown Q&A

Speed Burner

King's Corner

Next Step

Welcome Home

QB Questions?

Common Cause

Right on Target

Flying High at No. 1

Headed North

Playoff Bound

Dominique Alexander Q&A

California Connection

Red River Rejuvenation

To The Point

Ty Darlington Q&A

Aaron Ripkowski Q&A

Sooner Flashback: Jakie Sandefer

Next Generation

Hiring Time

Sooners hire new offensive coordinator

Samaje Perine Q&A

Aaron Ripkowski Q&A

Mike Stoops Q&A

Josh Heupel Q&A

All in the Family

Road Warrior

On Point

King's Corner

Sugar Bowl Review


OU to meet Alabama in Sugar Bowl

Josh Heupel Q&A

Josh Heupel Q&A

Boomer Bio

The Closer

Sooner Success

Mike Stoops Q&A

Bill Bedenbaugh Q&A

Spring Football Review

Spring Football Review

To The Point

Boomer Bio: Julian Wilson

Boomer Bio: Chuka Ndulue

Boomer Bio: Bronson Irwin

Jalen Saunders Q&A

Patience Rewarded

Boomer Bio: Sterling Shepard

Taylor-made for Oklahoma

Tony Jefferson Q&A

Attention Getter

A Change of Plans

A Change of Plans

Proud Heritage

Hot Commodity

Boomer Bio; James Winchester

Boomer Bio; James Winchester

Boomer Bio: Aaron Ripkowski




Strictly Striker

Javon Harris Q&A

Boomer Bio: Austin Haywood

Locked In & Loaded

Ben Habern Q&A

Landry Jones Q&A

The Classics

Top Ten Recruits

Bonus Prospects

Oklahoma Influences

Tight End Tough

Marquis On The Mark

Sooner Stars Set To Return

Jeremy Beal Q&A

Jamell Fleming Q&A

Boomer Bio: Trey Millard

Stacy McGee Q&A

Red River Tradition

Red River Tradition

James Patton Q&A

Boomer Bio: Eric Mensik

Quarterback Race

Quarterback Race

Boomer Bio: Kenny Stills

Boomer Bio: Marshall Musil

Getting His Kicks

Making The Right Moves In Recruiting

Bradford looks sharp in workout

No Doubt About It

Boomer Bio: Willie Martinez

Boomer Bio: Ronnell Lewis

Boomer Bio: Ronnell Lewis

Norman Bound

Showdown In The Sun

Jay Norvell Q&A

Jay Norvell Q&A

Boomer Bio: Dejuan Miller

Adrian Taylor doing just fine

Joseph Ibiloye Q&A

The Real Deal

Road Warrior

Meet Dusty Dvoracek This Saturday!

Casey Walker Q&A

Best of The Red River Rivalry

Bradford To Start Against Baylor

Facebook & Football

Tackling Machine

Keith Jackson Appearing this Friday in Norman

Josh Heupel Q&A

Boomer Bio: Stephen Good

Top Targets

Brent Venables Q&A

Boomer Bio: Cory Brandon

Tisdale and Griffin

Wayman Tisdale Dies

Sam Bradford Q&A

Auston English Q&A

Blake Griffin earns Naismith Award

Ryan Reynolds Q&A

The Wait Is Over

Outlook for 2009

Outlook for 2009

Staying Put

Bradford, Gresham, Williams Coming Back

Make Room For Sam

Lendy Holmes Q&A

Bradford Wins Heisman

Heisman Material

Boomer Bio: Frank Alexander

Sooners Headed To KC For Big 12 Title Game

Sudden Impact

Sudden Impact

Gerald McCoy Q&A

Gerald McCoy Q&A

Offensive linemen Roundtable

Boomer Bio: Mossis Madu

Boomer Bio: Mossis Madu

Travis Lewis Q&A

Travis Lewis Q&A

Auston English Q&A

Jackie Shipp Q&A

Bob Stoops Q&A

Boomer Bio

They’ve Got It Covered

Bradford Talks About Sooner Experience

Big Dreams

Plenty Of Things To Chew on this Offseason

Marcus Walker Q&A

Looking Ahead

Greater Expectations

Manny Being Manny

The Big Easy

Super Sidekick

English Lesson

Revved Up & Remodeled

Firmly Committed

A Cut Above

The Definition of Rivalry

On The Rise

Irresistible Force


Bradford Named Starting QB

Venables Verbatim

Sooner Spectator & Teaming Up

Final Chapter

Catching Up With Sumlin

Welcome Back Little Joe

Wilson’s Defensive Wisdom

Reggie Smith Q&A

Malcolm Over The Middle

Fantastic Five

Thompson & Alexander To Sign Autographs



OU’s Greatest

Boomer Bio: Brody Eldridge

Boomer Bio: Fred Strong

Dual Threat: Stephen Garcia

Thirty Reasons Why OU will beat Texas

Double Duty

Kody Cooke: A Conversation

Boomer Bio: Lendy Holmes

Welcome Back

Quick Five With Nic Harris

Road Warrior

The Opposition

Defensive Backing

Recruiting: Crimson Bloodline

Wilson Weighs In

Replacing Runnels?

Defensive Outlook

Top Shelf: Austin Box

Rufus Revelations

Reaction to Capel Hiring

A.D. Unscripted

OU will miss Sampson

OU Scrimmage Report

Joey Halzle Q&A

Gray, OU prep for The Dance

Moore is Better

Sooners eye stretch run

Haskell remains a lost treasure

Boomer Bio: Patty Gasso

Sherri Coale Conversation

Taylor Made

Future Considerations

McCoy becomes a Sooner

Michael Neal Q&A

Recruiting: Dominique Franks Q&A

Strong Willed

Football Recruiting Notes

Remembering Billy Ball

Enough Gloom & Doom

Back In Business

Endowed Scholarships Announced

USC or Texas: The Lesser of Two Evils?

Stoops is not leaving OU

Sooners down Ducks in Holiday Bowl

Biding His Time

Kelvin Sampson Q&A

Next Stop Division I

Boomer Bio: Allen Patrick

Chris Messner Q&A

Bob Stoops' take on Bedlam Victory

Terrance Anderson's Journey

OU vs. Tech: The Answers

OU vs. Tech Matchups

Road Warrior

Stoops talks about OU's 36-30 win

OU vs. A&M matchups

OU Coaches’ Roundtable

Recruiting: Derek Burton

Boomer Bio: Juaquin Iglesias

Carl Pendleton Q&A

Sooners topple Huskers in Lincoln

OU-Nebraska Matchups

Recruiting: Ugo Chinasa

Sooners top Baylor

OU vs. Baylor Matchups

Recruiting: Offensive Line

Recruiting: Adron Tennell

Sooners top Jayhawks

OU vs. Kansas Matchups

Boomer Bio

A Pleasant Conversation

Texas tops Oklahoma

Red River Rivarly Matchups

Dusty Dvoracek: In The Trenches

Sooners Roll Past K-State

OU vs. K-State Matchups

Recruiting: Replenishing The Backfield

Boomer Bio

Sooners give one away

Recruiting Demarco Murray

C.J. Ah You Q&A

The Answers: OU vs. Tulsa

Not Pretty, But Sooners Win

Spectator Sneak Preview

Bob Stoops' take on TCU loss

Texas Christian Sacks Sooners

Moses leads Sooner tight ends

Rufus Alexander Q&A

Thompson gets nod at QB

Birdine Lost For Season

Sampson to Visit Kuwait for Hoops with Troops

Walk-on making noise at WR

Travis Wilson Q&A

Clint Ingram Q&A

Sooners open fall practice

Brent Venables Q&A

Sooner single-game tickets go on sale Monday

Questions about Sooners' aura not surprising

Joseph talks about summer workouts

OU at Big 12 Media Days

Kim Named to U.S. Walker Cup Team

Sooners name Golloway

Stephenson decides to stay at Wichita State

Stephenson takes OU head baseball job

Soon to be Sooners

New Sooner Nic Harris excited about new digs

2005 Season Preview Issue Available Now!!

Letter from the Editor

Q and A

Ever Elusive

Sooner Selections

Ole Miss powers past Sooners

OU's Weekly Sports Report

OU inks JUCO point guard

OU's Kim wins Big 12 Golf Title

White and Vermeil talk about first day of rookie camp

White gets a chance with Kansas City

Red Rallies to Down White

Big crowd expected

Prelude To Greatness?

Breaking Down The Offense

Spring football eases pain

On Sale at Newsstands June 20!
Next Step
Shepard leads group of former OU standouts into the NFL

Sterling Shepard celebrated in a Giant way, and Charles Tapper’s smile was as big as Dallas. Nothing for Zack Sanchez was finer than being drafted by Carolina. And Devante Bond is money as a Buc.
But for the Oklahoma Sooners, the 2016 NFL Draft was almost as much about who didn’t get drafted as who did.

As usual, Eric Striker stole the show.
Like he did frequently on the football field, like he did in the Sugar Bowl, like he did during the SAE racism scandal — Eric Striker captured Sooner Nation’s hearts when he went undrafted and stood up in front of a room full of family and friends — and poured out his heart.

“This is what we’re here to celebrate,” Striker began as the three-day event wound down, his voice shaking and ESPN’s cameras rolling. “Now, I’m gonna get my shot — drafted or not. You know how I’ve been my whole life. I had to prove it at Armwood (High School), when (Jarriet) Buie got hurt. Did I let it go? Never let it go. … I went to college, Coach Mike (Stoops) didn’t believe (in) me and I proved myself.”

It was a very emotional moment for Striker and his supporters.

“I’m so happy. … Don’t get caught up in the NFL, because we know the sun will rise on it,” Striker continued as the tears welled. “There’s so much potential for me and I’m so happy for everyone to share this moment. I’m crying because I’m happy that all of y’all came to share this with me.”

Striker did get his shot, signing as a free agent with the Buffalo Bills. Rex Ryan, it seems, thinks a lot of undersized Sooners with a history of big plays and even bigger hearts (he brought smallish wideout Jalen Saunders to the New York Jets, remember).

“When people say ‘You can’t, you can’t, you can’t,’ and then you do, then it’s, ‘Why do those people say that?’ ” Striker said during his introductory press conference in Buffalo. “Maybe it’s something in them that makes them think that I can’t do it. But it’s all about heart. The biggest guy on the field has to have heart. It felt good in high school and good in college to be successful on the field.

“My heart drives me more than anything.”

Ryan said that trait stands out.

“When we saw him on tape,” noted Ryan, “that’s what we loved about him. He made plays. I don’t care what he was doing, that dude was making plays.”

Striker was one of six former Sooners who got free agent deals after the draft. Linebacker Dominique Alexander went to the Cleveland Browns, center Ty Darlington went to the Tennessee Titans, guard Nila Kasitati went to the Washington Redskins, and wide receiver Durron Neal and linebacker Frank Shannon both landed with the Denver Broncos.

That only four Sooners were drafted — Shepard was first, going 40th overall (ninth in the second round) to New York — seems on the low side.

But then the Oklahoma PR department dug up this gem: OU is one of only two programs to have at least four players taken in the NFL Draft every year since 2008. LSU is the other.

All four Sooners drafted seem to have landed in ideal spots.

In New York, Shepard can be a complementary slot receiver to Odell Beckham and Victor Cruz.

“Eli Manning, Odell Beckham and Victor Cruz are guys I’ve looked up to for a long time,” said Shepard. “I can’t wait to be a part of the organization and call myself a Giant. I know they have die-hard fans there, similar to Oklahoma. I just can’t wait to get out there and go to work.”

The Giants organization is excited, too.
“That’s one of the names that came up, a young Victor Cruz,” said Giants general manager Jerry Reese. “Very similar in some ways, body type. The one thing about this kid is he’s 5-10 and some change, but his strike zone is bigger than that. He’s got a 41-inch vertical jump, he’s got big hands. He’s a tenacious slot receiver, runs after the catch. Get the ball to him quick and he does some nice things after the catch, as well.”

Shepard's late father, former Sooner wideout Derrick Shepard, played five seasons in the NFL (1987-91) with the Redskins (he was on Washington’s Super Bowl champion in 1987), New Orleans Saints and Cowboys.

“The offense they run at Oklahoma, he runs all the routes,” said Giants VP of player evaluation Marc Ross. “Unlike some of the college systems now where they run up the field and just turn around, this guy runs an NFL route tree.”

In Dallas, Tapper has a chance to be an impact defensive end right away. He started 38 of his final 39 games at OU and was a two-time first-team All-Big 12 pick.
He was the 101st pick overall, No. 3 in the fourth round.

“I wasn’t really expecting to get drafted real early in the fourth round,” said Tapper. “I was just going to go with the flow and see how it played out. As the Cowboys were coming up, I was like, 'Man, I hope the Cowboys pick me. That would be a great place for me playing that 5 technique, and they say they need a lot of help.’

“I was sitting on the couch and the phone started ringing. I was like, ‘Uh oh.’ I saw the call was from Arlington, Texas, and when I answered it was Mr. Jerry Jones. Immediately, there was just so much relief.

Everything was just finally off my back. It was like the greatest feeling ever. I didn’t really have any idea that Dallas liked me that much. Indianapolis and Arizona had shown a lot of interest, so I thought I’d go to one of those teams. But when Dallas called I was just so happy. I feel like that’s just the best place for me.”

Dallas coach Jason Garrett believes Tapper can help improve the Cowboys’ pass rush.

“Athletically,” said Garrett, “we certainly feel like he is a defensive end candidate for us, and a right end candidate. Pass rush guy; he is an outstanding athlete. A lot of basketball in his background growing up, and we do think that the way that we play, the scheme that we run and the style of defense that we run, will feature some of the physical traits that he has. He plays the right way (and) he seems like an outstanding character guy.”

Sanchez, too, should be a good fit as an outside corner or nickel back in Carolina, where he was the 141st overall pick (No. 2 in the fifth round).

The Panthers were Super Bowl runner-up last year and are established, but clearly show they’re in the market for good young players. Sanchez is a fast corner with excellent coverage instincts and a nose for the football. He started all 37 career games at OU and ranks fourth in OU history with 15 career interceptions. He also was a two-time first-team All-Big 12 player.

“Carolina showed me the most interest throughout this whole process, so it wasn’t surprising to be picked by them,” said Sanchez. “To fall that late was kind of surprising, but everything happens for a reason.

“It’s exciting with them coming off a Super Bowl appearance and believing in me to be one of the guys to make plays in the back end. It’s just an exciting opportunity. The spot’s there. I just have a lot of work to do and I want to be a part of something special. It’s just been a really cool experience.”

Panthers GM Dave Gettleman clarified Sanchez’ likely role in a draft where he selected three cornerbacks in all.

“Of the three guys, Zack would be the one who might potentially work (inside),” said Gettleman. “He’ll work inside, I think that’s fair to say for sure. We’ve got to find out. The thing about Zack is, like I said, he’s really instinctive. He really knows the game.”

Bond was widely regarded as the Sooners’ most NFL-ready player last season, and he’ll get a chance to prove it in Tampa Bay, where he went No. 183 overall, the eighth pick of the sixth round. Bond, a junior college transfer in 2014, missed four games with an injury during his senior year.

“I’m just definitely blessed and happy to be in the Tampa Bay organization,” said Bond. “I talked to them at the Combine, and I just feel happy and feel blessed to be where I’m at. They were just one of the teams that showed a lot of interest in me during the process. I know I’m going to be an outside ‘backer there. I plan on going there and trying to contribute on special teams early and go from there."

Bucs GM Jason Licht said Bond will be a strong side linebacker and described him as “heavy-handed and athletic; (a) great kid.”

“He’s also smart, versatile and a great pass rusher,” said Bob Stoops. “He plays with great hands and sheds blockers well. He’s only going to continue to improve at the next level.”

(Editor's Note: This story appears in the June issue of Sooner Spectator. To read more or subscribe, call 405-364-4515).