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Heisman greatness foretold?

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Let’s rewind for a minute to the summer of 2003.

There was a quarterback battle brewing at an Oklahoma City high school. The football team had become known for producing good quarterbacks but for not starting them until they were seniors. At one point, they had the guy who set the state’s single-season record for passing yards, but he had played a different position the year before breaking that record.

The coach liked older, more mature quarterbacks, so when the battle boiled down to a senior and a sophomore, everyone suspected the senior would land the job.

Instead, it went to the sophomore.

The school: Putnam North.

The quarterback: Sam Bradford.

Five years later, the guy is the Heisman Trophy winner.

Did PC North coach Bob Wilson see such greatness in Bradford when he picked him back in 2003? Probably not. Wilson probably just wanted someone who would help him beat Westmoore and Edmond Santa Fe.

But the truth is, what happened that five years ago at PC North was the first indication to the sports world that Sam Bradford had special abilities. Wilson has long gone with senior quarterbacks. Matt Warren was the single-season record holder who didn’t start until his senior year. He almost led PC North to the state title.

That Wilson changed course so dramatically, that he went with a sophomore said something about Bradford. His ability was advanced. So was his mentality.

I saw it with my own eyes that fall. I went out to cover a PC North-Edmond Santa Fe game. Santa Fe won, and I ended up writing about Santa Fe quarterback Steve Day, who had been splitting time with Reggie Smith but who would ultimately lead the Wolves to the state title game. Thing is, I ended up talking about Bradford. After covering the game, I told everyone I could about this kid. He was lanky, but he wasn’t awkward. He threw well. Ran well. Played much older than his age.

Did I see a Heisman Trophy in his future?

No way. But you could tell that Bradford was special. He was different. He was elite. 

Bob Wilson knew it then. Everyone knows it now.

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Jenni Carlson

Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football... Read more ›