Which OU athletes could have been on NCAA Football

Which OU athletes could have been on NCAA Football

EA Sports did what many thought was impossible by announcing they would bring back their college football video game series. After a hiatus that will have spanned at least ten years come July, the newest version of the beloved game series will return sometime in the summer of 2024.

The last one to drop before the series ended came out in July 2013. NCAA 14 is one of the most iconic sports video games of all time because of the attachment many have to it. Its resale value has never been higher.

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The reason for the original cancellation of the series? Name, image, and likeness. A hot-button topic that eventually led to NIL being accepted into collegiate sports after legislation passed.

EA Sports couldn’t figure out how to compensate players because, at the time, it wasn’t legal in that era of collegiate athletics. That hurdle has been cleared and is something we discussed here.

With NIL no longer an issue, we can worry about the game. One question we are wondering? Who gets the distinction of being the game’s cover athlete? It’s always a fun and exciting debate when new sports games come out. Former Michigan QB Denard Robinson graced NCAA 14’s cover. In the time since the last game,  college football has had some iconic athletes come and go across the college football scene that would’ve been perfect fits to be cover athletes for subsequent games.

Our friends at College Wire went through and named which players they thought would have been great fits as cover athletes for the years we didn’t have a game. We decided to do the same but only with Oklahoma players for those years. Take a look below.

Oct 11, 2014; Dallas, TX, USA; Oklahoma Sooners linebacker Eric Striker (19) celebrates with the fans in the stands after the game against the Texas Longhorns during the Red River showdown at the Cotton Bowl. Oklahoma beat Texas 31-26. Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

No player had a more impactful season for Oklahoma in the 2014 season than outside linebacker Eric Striker. Striker, named a captain for the Sooners before the season, started all 13 games for Oklahoma in 2014. He led Oklahoma in sacks with nine, had two fumble recoveries, five pass breakups, and 17 tackles for loss. He was the heart and soul of Oklahoma’s defense and ended up a third-team AP All-American for his efforts.

Also Considered: Samaje Perine, RB

Sep 2, 2017; Norman, OK, USA; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) warms up prior to action against the UTEP Miners at Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Baker Mayfield may find himself on this list three times in a row. His career is one of college football’s most memorable and also one of the most impressive. During his first year at Oklahoma, he came up big in monumental moments that helped propel Oklahoma to their first College Football Playoff berth, a loss to the Clemson Tigers.

Mayfield was instrumental in a significant win on the road in Knoxville against the Tennessee Volunteers and showed up big time against the Baylor Bears on the road in a primetime Saturday night showdown.

Little did we know he was just getting started

Also Considered: Samaje Perine, RB

Oct 15, 2016; Norman, OK, USA; Oklahoma Sooners wide receiver Dede Westbrook (11) runs for a touchdown after a reception against Kansas State Wildcats defensive back DJ Reed (2) and Kansas State Wildcats defensive back Dante Barnett (22) during the third quarter at Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The 2016 season for Oklahoma was marred by its early season nonconference losses to Ohio State and Houston. It took the sails out of a team that entered the season ranked third in the 2016 preseason AP and Coaches polls. The Sooners would bounce back and reel off a perfect conference record of 9-0 to win their second consecutive conference championship.

Baker Mayfield took a natural step forward at quarterback, and his top option, Dede Westbrook, turned in a magnificent season that earned him a Heisman trip and Biletnikoff award. Westbrook went nuclear as the number one option in Lincoln Riley’s offense posting totals of 80 catches for 1,524 yards and 17 touchdowns, averaging 19 yards per catch.

As electric as he was, Westbrook certainly would deserve to be on a video game cover after putting up video game numbers.

Also Considered: Baker Mayfield, QB

Oct 7, 2017; Norman, OK, USA; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) scores a touchdown in front of Iowa State Cyclones linebacker Joel Lanning (7) during the second quarter at Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The first two years of Baker’s career in Norman were just an appetizer for what would be his Heisman-winning 2017 season.

And for that reason, he definitely would be the cover athlete for the 2018 edition of NCAA football. His final season in college saw him complete 70.5 percent of his passes for 4,627 yards and 43 touchdowns with just 6 interceptions. He also had five rushing touchdowns, breaking his own NCAA FBS record for passing efficiency rating of 198.9.

No player was more instrumental to their team, and Oklahoma ran through their schedule en route to another College Football Playoff berth.

Also Considered: Rodney Anderson, RB

NORMAN, OK – SEPTEMBER 02: Quarterback Kyler Murray #1 of the Oklahoma Sooners looks to throw against the UTEP Miners at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on September 2, 2017 in Norman, Oklahoma. Oklahoma defeated UTEP 56-7. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)

It’s hard to talk about video game cover athletes and not mention Kyler Murray. Kyler Murray’s lone season as the starter in Norman was indeed something one would imagine a create-a-player would accomplish.

The numbers go like this: 4,361 passing yards,  1,478 rushing yards, and 54 combined touchdowns. All in one season. Murray could throw a bomb one drive and rip off a 75-yard run the next. On top of being the best player, he was also the most exciting—a tailor-made combination for a video game.

Also Considered: Marquise Brown, WR

Nov 23, 2019; Norman, OK, USA; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) runs past TCU Horned Frogs cornerback Kee’yon Stewart (2) during the second half at Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

For the third consecutive year, we went with a quarterback. Jalen Hurts transferred from Alabama and landed with the Sooners, where he put together a dynamic 2019 season. The combination of his arms and legs allowed Oklahoma to win another Big 12 title, and in the process, Hurts set numerous Oklahoma records with his running ability. He earned a trip to New York as a finalist for the Heisman trophy.

Also Considered: CeeDee Lamb, WR

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Oklahoma entered the season with a fresh face at quarterback in five-star Spencer Rattler. Oklahoma also had to replace arguably the school’s best receiver in CeeDee Lamb.

An explosive true freshman from Frisco was up to the task and led the Sooners as a freshman in receiving. Our pick, Marvin Mims, would be the cover athlete for the 2021 edition, thanks to his penchant for adding a big-play ability to the Oklahoma offense that year.

Also Considered: Nik Bonitto, EDGE

Oct 9, 2021; Dallas, Texas, USA; Oklahoma Sooners running back Kennedy Brooks (26) runs with the ball against the Texas Longhorns during the second quarter at the Cotton Bowl. Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Oklahoma’s 2021 season was draining because the Sooners never failed to live up to the lofty preseason hype placed on them. Once considered national championship contenders, the Sooners didn’t even make it to the College Football Playoff and lost their head coach hours after the season. One constant remained steady despite the in-season QB battle.

Kennedy Brooks had the best season of his career as the lead back for an often anemic Oklahoma offense in 2021. He rushed for his third consecutive 1,000-yard season, posting 1,253. He also added 13 touchdowns, including his legendary game-winning score in an all-time Red River Rivalry where he ran for over 200 yards.

Also Considered: Nik Bonitto, EDGE

NORMAN, OK – OCTOBER 15: Quarterback Dillon Gabriel #8 of the Oklahoma Sooners celebrates a touchdown by running back Eric Gray #0 against the Kansas Jayhawks late in the second quarter at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on October 15, 2022 in Norman, Oklahoma. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

After a soft reset on the program and undergoing the process of finding a new coach, Oklahoma brought in a familiar face in Brent Venables. His first year was imperfect, but Oklahoma looks to stabilize from the shock of Lincoln Riley’s exit. This team had considerably less hype than others on the list, and to be fair, they also had less talent.

However, the athlete we chose is Dillon Gabriel. His QB play was much better than Oklahoma’s 6-7 record indicated, but the team and the coaching staff struggled to find the synergy to win more games. Gabriel was a bright spot after he decided to transfer in to follow offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby who he had known since their days at UCF together.

Also Considered: C.J. Coldon, CB

Contact/Follow us @SoonersWire on Twitter, and like our page on Facebook to follow ongoing coverage of Oklahoma news, notes, and opinions. You can also follow Bryant on Twitter @thatmanbryant.

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