NORMAN, Okla. — There’s a wall in the northeast corner of Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mounted plaques of all of Oklahoma’s national award winners rest there.
National Honors Plaza doesn’t get the attention of Heisman Park, which is just across the street to the east. Few pose for pictures here.
But it illustrates the point to anyone associated with the program: standout at Oklahoma and it is recognized throughout the country. Plaques honor the achievements of 23 former players. It’s a big group, but three spots remain before a new row begins. All three could be claimed by the end of Thursday night.
Tight end Mark Andrews is the first this season to guarantee a spot on the wall. He won the Mackey Award on Wednesday. The junior is the first Oklahoma player to claim the prize as college football’s top tight end.
“To be the first to have that award, it’s extremely humbling,” Andrews said. “All those guys are incredible players and I’m incredibly honored to be able to receive this award and bring this award to the University of Oklahoma.”
Andrews is in Atlanta for the Home Depot College Football Awards Show. Quarterback Baker Mayfield will likely pick up a lot of bronze this week. The Associated Press named him the 2018 College Football Player of the Year on Thursday. The Oklahoma quarterback could also pick up the Maxwell and Davey O’Brien Awards on Thursday night.
Offensive tackle Orlando Brown is a finalist for Outland Trophy, awarded to college football’s best interior lineman. A Sooners player has claimed the award five times since 1946.
Mayfield’s week ends Saturday in New York. He’s the favorite to claim the program’s sixth Heisman Trophy.
More recruiting ammunition for Lincoln Riley
There’s no head coach who banks on national awards as selling points. The voting is beyond his control. But here’s a sign the Sooners are ready to compete for national championships after a slight lull.
During the early years of former coach Bob Stoops’ tenure, from 2000-04, 11 different players reached consensus or unanimous All-America status. During that run, the Sooners won the 2000 national championship, grabbed three Big 12 titles in five seasons, and played in college football National Championship Game in 2003 and ’04.
After a 12-year drought, a Sooners player earned unanimous All-America honors in 2016, wide receiver Dede Westbrook.
Mayfield, Brown and Andrews will all likely achieve that status in the coming weeks.
“It does help push the brand that you can come here and accomplish anything that you think is possible,” Riley said.
Individual awards underline Oklahoma’s team success
Championships won determine a team’s place in Oklahoma history. The ultimate gauge of No. 2 Oklahoma’s season current comes in the College Football Playoff.
Mayfield drummed that point in every conversation about the Heisman Trophy or any other award.
“It’s about the national title,” Mayfield said.
Teams in the national championship hunt get that kind of recognition. On that plaza wall are names such as Tommy McDonald , Jerry Tubbs, Lee Roy Selmon, Rocky Calmus, Josh Heupel, Roy Williams, Brian Bosworth and Tony Casillas. They won individual awards, but also played on national championship teams.
That’s the group Mayfield, Andrews and Brown ultimately want to join.
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