OU football: Why Drake Stoops has a chance to make his mark for Sooners
NORMAN — There’s no running from his last name for Drake Stoops, certainly not playing for the team that his dad coached for 18 years.
“I’m reminded every second of every day, trust me,” Stoops said this week on The No Huddle Podcast.
It’s easy to forget now after the way OU’s game ended last week, but before the meltdown began, the redshirt sophomore receiver from Norman was maybe the brightest spot.
“It was important for us,” Sooners coach Lincoln Riley said. “It was definitely a spark to get him back.”
Stoops missed the season-opener against Missouri State but made a big impact against Kansas State with three catches for 93 yards and his first career touchdown.
In his first two seasons, Stoops had 10 catches for 111 yards.
It was Stoops’ first catch against the Wildcats that made the biggest impression.
On the first play of the second quarter, Stoops moved across the field as Spencer Rattler rolled to his right.
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A little move just inside the 10 caused free safety Jahron McPherson to fall to the turf, giving Rattler just enough of a window to thread the throw in.
Stoops went up and got the ball, facing Rattler, just shy of the goalline.
What he did after the catch was the most impressive part, though, twisting through cornerback Justin Gardner’s tackle attempt and flinging himself into the end zone.
Even without Gaylord Family — Oklahoma Memorial Stadium packed, the “Stoooooops” chant still took over the stadium.
“No surprise, though,” Riley said of Stoops’ breakout performance. “It’s what he’s done on the practice field. He’s a tough player. Really good route-runner. Great hands. Competitor. Definitely fun to see him have some success and I’m sure it’s just the beginning.”
The Sooners certainly hope so.
While receiver has been a position of strength, a combination of injuries, COVID protocols and a notable suspension has thinned out the group.
Trejan Bridges was part of the trio of Sooners suspended before last season’s Peach Bowl, which will keep him sidelined until late October, Jadon Haselwood suffered a knee injury in the offseason that figures to keep him out at least until late this season and graduate transfer Obi Obialo has been sidelined for the first two games.
With those losses, Stoops’ emergence last week was important and he figures to continue to play a significant role, including in Saturday game at Iowa State (6:30 p.m., ABC).
He nearly got a second touchdown in the game, hauling in a 51-yard reception that set up the Sooners’ final touchdown on the next play.
“It’s definitely really cool, especially given my family history and having lived here for so long,” Stoops said on the podcast. “I don’t put too much emphasis on it (though).”
Despite the marquee last name, Stoops wasn’t a sure thing to play much for the Sooners.
He had offers from his father’s alma mater, Iowa, and a handful of non-Power 5 programs like Memphis and Ohio.
A year ago, he had eight catches for 95 yards and served as a backup punt returner.
Stoops wouldn’t be the first local walk-on receiver to go from relative obscurity — or at least as much obscurity as you can have with the last name Stoops in Norman — to become a key piece in the receiving corps.
Nick Basquine knows all about that, like Stoops starring at Norman North before spending time as a little-used walk-on before breaking out.
“I’ve done the similar road — people just thinking you can’t do it,” Basquine said last season of Stoops. “But he’s more than capable of being a player for our team. He has a bright future.”
That future could be now.