OU football: Drake Stoops ready for his Bedlam chance after looking up to Sooner 'superheroes'
NORMAN — More than anyone on the OU roster, Drake Stoops grew up immersed in Bedlam.
For years, he watched as his dad, Bob Stoops, coached the Sooners against the Cowboys.
The memories come back easily for Drake.
There’s the good for OU, like Blake Bell’s touchdown pass in the closing seconds in the 2013 game in Stillwater to lift the Sooners to victory after Oklahoma State had taken the lead with less than two minutes remaining.
“That was a great game,” Drake Stoops said.
He remembers the bad, too, like Tyreek Hill’s 92-yard punt return for a game-tying touchdown in the final minute the next year.
There wasn’t a ton of bad, though, during his time growing up. Bob Stoops went 14-4 against the Cowboys. That success has continued under Lincoln Riley with the Sooners winning all three Bedlam games with him as head coach.
“I remember them all,” Drake Stoops said, declining to talk further about his Bedlam memories.
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But this year will be different.
He played in Bedlam last year, a 34-16 Sooners win.
But then, Stoops was a little-used reserve receiver, mainly seeing action on special teams and late in games that were already decided.
This year’s Bedlam game, Nov. 21 in Norman, will be different for Stoops, though.
Stoops, a redshirt sophomore walk-on receiver, has become a key part of the Sooners’ offense.
He has nine catches for 152 yards and two touchdowns this season, including three catches for 93 yards and a touchdown against Kansas State and the game-winning touchdown in quadruple overtime against Texas.
Stoops came through big in one of OU’s two big rivalry games and he says he’ll be ready if he gets another chance against Oklahoma State.
“I’ll just continue to do whatever’s asked of me and fulfill whatever role I have the opportunity of playing in the game,” Stoops said. “This year, I’m having a little bit bigger role and so I’ll be ready to fulfill that to the best of my ability and prepare well, so I’ll be ready for the opportunity.”
Stoops’ emergence has been a bit of a surprise, but it shouldn’t be.
He grew up immersed in major-college football with a dad who was a little-recruited safety from Youngstown, Ohio, who became an All-Big 10 player by his senior year.
And Drake Stoops was far from an average walk-on, with a couple Division I offers, but none from a Power Five program, before he decided to stay home with the Sooners.
Add all of that up and when he arrived on campus, Stoops knew exactly what to expect.
He grew up looking up to the players who played for his father.
“I just thought they were superheroes,” Stoops said. “Instead of superheroes, I idolized football players. I always wanted to be like them and so, how do you be like someone?
“You watch them, you observe them and you try to emulate exactly what they’re doing. SO even as I’m younger, I’m not quite at that level yet, I’m gonna try to emulate that work ethic, the way they run routes, the way they focus, the way they sit in meetings — everything. That probably started like second, third grade.”
And now more than a decade after he started paying attention closely, Stoops is making his mark.
“He’s going to be where he’s supposed to be, he’s going to run the route the way it’s supposed to be run,” Riley said recently. “He’s going to make the tough catch in traffic.
“He’s really busted his tail here, had to work and earn everything that he’s got.”