OR spring game helps define new Sooner era

OR spring game helps define new Sooner era

Brent Venables called out Oklahoma football fans to make the 2022 Spring Game a great atmosphere, and they did just that.

A hyped-up crowd of 75,360 strong showed up and out at the Palace not for a regular season game, but a spring game. It was the largest spring game attendance in the country, and easily the largest ever to attend an OU spring game.

The Palace on the Prairie, as they call it, was electric for the new Venables era and, of course, the Heisman statue reveal for former Sooner star Baker Mayfield.

Before kickoff, the highly energetic Venables stole the show by hyping up the Sooner crowd and bringing all the OU football alumni to midfield.

“You built this program.” Venables said, talking about the former players.

It was heartwarming to see all the former Oklahoma players gathering around Head Coach Brent Venables. A handful of those former players played under Venables, during his time as a defensive coordinator at OU, — names such as Adrian Peterson, Tony Jefferson, Gerald McCoy, and many more Sooners.

NORMAN, OK – APRIL 23: Head coach Brent Venables of the Oklahoma Sooners poses with former Oklahoma Sooners football players including Adrian Peterson and Brian Bosworth before their spring game at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on April 23, 2022 in Norman, Oklahoma. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

The Baker Mayfield Heisman statue reveal was everything Sooner fans could’ve asked for. One of the most iconic college football players of all time had everybody on their feet, as he was walking out to the song “In the Air Tonight” by Phil Colins over the stadium public address system.

The video board showed a Baker Mayfield tribute that included game historic flashbacks from his Sooner career brought back a lot of great memories.

Heisman Trophy winner and former OU quarterback Baker Mayfield is introduced to the crowd before a statue of him was unveiled during a ceremony at halftime of the University of Oklahoma’s annual spring football game at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., Saturday, April 23, 2022.
Or Sooners Spring Football Game

The 4th-down keeper at Tennessee, the Houdini scramble TD to Dimitri Flowers vs Baylor, the long ball to Westbrook vs Texas, and the MANY plays at Oklahoma State in 2017.

Mayfield had the microphone at midfield and spoke from his heart about his time at Oklahoma. He told Sooner fans that they’re in good hands with Brent Venables.

“This place is headed in the right direction,” Mayfield told the crowd. “I got to talk to [Venables] yesterday in his office for 30 minutes and I was ready to run through a wall.

“We’re back. We’ve never left, but we’re back. It’s pretty special to have this place packed like this for a moment like this.”

For the game, it was big distributions from the newcomers on the Sooners’ roster. Freshman running back Jovantae Barnes introduced himself to Sooner Nation on Saturday by running with a vicious attitude and showing why he was one of the top running backs in the 2022 class.

It wasn’t just Barnes, though, who was getting the attention at running back. Juco transfer Tawee Walker had impressive runs and showed his impact in the passing game.

Although it was a shaky start for quarterback Dillon-Gabriel, the highly talented lefty showed his elite arm strength and ability to make plays on the run. Gabriel completed 19 of 28 passes for 250 yards and one touchdown, including an interception early in the first quarter.

Freshmen receiver Jayden Gibson showed his dominance in the passing game, and displayed his speed at 6-feet, 5 inches. The four-star prospect caught a pass from Micah Bowens and took it 95 yards for a touchdown, while showing off his long strides.

The defensive performances for both the Red and White squads were outstanding to say the least. Right away, Senior linebacker Deshaun White made a huge hit, which resulted in the 75,000 fans oohing in there seats. Sophomore Safety Billy Bowman saw a lot of action at safety Saturday and made great plays on the ball. Bowman also got experience in catching punts later in the game.

Overall, it was a great spring game for Oklahoma, one that will long be remembered. The atmosphere was top notch, Baker’s Heisman statue reveal was a tear jerker, and Venables is leading the Sooners in the right direction.

Good luck topping, or even equaling, all of this next spring. Somehow, I think Venables and Company will find a way.

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