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Greatest Sooner Running Backs, Number Four: Greg Pruitt

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Photo found at: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/498492252475013749/

To qualify this ranking of running backs at Oklahoma, I have included only players that I have personally seen in person at the stadium or live on television.  I began watching Sooner football in 1958 and my remembrances go back to 1961.  With that, I have not included any player before 1961. This is the first part of a series of greatest Sooner football players by position.  Please comment on my lists and argue your best Sooner players.  There are no right or wrong rankings.   The lists, started with Joe Don Looney (10th best running back), will include offensive and defensive positions.  Statistics, abilities, and overall significance to the OU football program are all included in picking the ten, but when all things are equal, my personal preference is the tie breaker. 

 

 

 

Greg Pruitt  (All-America 1971-1972)

 

Greg Pruitt didn’t win the Heisman trophy.  He didn’t need to.  Pruitt was as good a speed back OU has ever had, and his contribution to the program’s resurgence to the national scene in the 1971 season should never be overlooked.  His “hello” on the front of a tee-shirt to the “goodbye” on the back says it all.  A man that averaged almost a first down every time he carried the ball in 1971 (9.4 per rush), Greg Pruitt was a man of speed, moves, and more speed. The perfect halfback in the wishbone, Pruitt was deadly to the opponent, and not even Ed Marinaro (1971 Heisman winner) or Johnny Rodgers (1972 Heisman winner) were the better football player. That was born out in the NFL. Pruitt was the best in those two years, not only in Norman but across the country.  It was strange that Pruitt finshed third in the Heisman in his better year of 1971 than his 2nd place finish in the following year. The fact that he didn’t win the Heisman Trophy was a oversight, as Pruitt was the best back college football those two years.  (http://www.nfl.com/photoessays/0ap3000000441757)

 

My first game to see Pruitt is person was in 1971 when my Dad took me to the OU/USC game in Norman.  The Sooners were beginning their run for the National title and Pruitt’s performance in the 33-20 win was magnificent.  OU ran the ball 72 times for 516 yards on the Trojans that day.  They averaged 7.2 yards per rush.  OU tried a single pass that day and it fell incomplete.  Talk about a diverse offense. OU’s wishbone was unstoppable. Pruitt had 205 yards on 16 carries that day with three touchdowns. Just a beginning of the historic statistical marks that he made in 1971.

 

A nice article on Greg Pruitt can be found here:  http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/12/greg-pruitt-reliving-yesteryear/
From this writing by Greg Popelka:  Greg Pruitt was a very cool Greg. At 5-foot-7, 156 pounds in college, he was smaller than almost everyone else on the field. He was also the fastest. I couldn’t believe it when my Cleveland Browns selected him with the 30th-overall pick;  Switzer had tee-shirts made in Pruitt’s honor that said “Hello” on the front and “Goodbye” on the back. The shirt was publicized nationally, and Switzer warned him that one of those shirts would be hanging in the locker room of the opponent in their next big game, against USC. Pruitt gained over 200 yards in the Oklahoma win;  In 1971, with Pruitt as the featured runner, the Sooners set the all-time NCAA rushing average record of 472.4 yards per game, a record which still stands;

 

Pruitt held the single game rushing record at OU with 296 yards until it was broken in 2014 by Samaje  Perine, which is the  National record today.

 

The gold toothed great one had a successful career in the NFL and many believe he should be in the NFL Hall-0f-Fame.

 

 

Rushing

Season

Att

Yards

TD

Long

Y/A

100Y

200Y

1971 JR 196 1,760 18 9.0 7 3
1972 SR 173 1,024 13 5.9 5 0
Totals 369 2,784 31 0 7.5 12 3

 

About Fred Pahlke

Fred Pahlke, an Oklahoma native has viewed over 10,000 sporting events in his 64 years. A season ticket holder of the Oklahoma City Thunder, former season tickect holder for the Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma City University Chiefs/Stars, he is an expert in both professional and college basketball and football. A high school athlete at Classen High School in basketball and tennis, he played amateur tennis after high school in the Missouri Valley Tennis Association. A graduate of Oklahoma City University, he taught in the public schools for 6 years before becoming a building administrator in the Oklahoma City Public Schools for 31 years, 28 as the Principal of various schools in the district. Fredsportsextra has recorded 101, 410 article views in its first ten months, from August 2015 through May 2016.

2 Responses to “Greatest Sooner Running Backs, Number Four: Greg Pruitt”

  1. soonerwood64
    January 18, 2016 at 1:25 am

    wasnt oklahoma on tv probation in 71?,i may be a few yrs off and probably should have researched this before opening my mouth,but,im going by strictly what i think i remember,lol,before i was in the 6th grade (52 this month)i used to take a radio to a vacant apt.and listen to joe washington,lil joe,okay apon further addition and subtraction,i think it may have been 75-77 yrs,in there ou was on tv probation,but i bleed crimson,love my sooners,and probably should have cheated and researched but thats my memory,from around that time,i do remember pruit,and darrell strawberry

  2. January 21, 2016 at 4:03 pm

    No for 1971. The Nebraska OU game of the Century was on National TV, live from Norman. OU was on probation in 73 and 74, no bowl or TV. The wins in 72 were stripped. OU was on TV in 75. The Sooners were National Champs in 1974 and 1975.

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