In the coming weeks, OUFans.com will contiue to make nominations for the top Oklahoma football players since the 1990 season. However, it will be the readers who will make the ultimate decision as to who stands as the greatest of the recent Sooners.
Each Monday a group of nominees will be listed for a new position, with the fans being able to cast their votes on the OUFans.com poll, that can be found on right border of the front page. The following Sunday, the poll will be closed and a recap of the winner's career will be written. The next day, the next position will start the cycle all over again.
This weeks position is the defensive ends, and with the school's single season and career sack holder and another player hoping to break both records this season and it's easy to see how this could become a two horse race. The four finalists are, Reggie Barnes, Cedric Jones, Jimmy Wilkerson, and Dan Cody.
Reggie Barnes: Barnes may force some Sooner fans to go back deep into their memory banks. However, as an all-conference selection in 1991, he's deserving of nomination on the list.
Barnes made his name during the Gary Gibbs era, and did so by using his speed against bigger more physical offensive tackles.
Despite his talents, Barnes bounced around the NFL for a little while, but never seemed to find his niche.
•217 tackles, 30 tackles for 136 yards lost, and 18 sacks
• 15 tackles for 66 yards lost, nine sacks
Cedric Jones: A rose in a bed of weeds, is a pretty solid way to describe Jones' career as a Sooner. He shattered career records for tackles for loss and sacks, as well as sacks for a season (14, in 1994). However, Jones never received the recognition he deserved for his four year duty at both defensive tackle and defensive end.
When Jones finally left Norman after his illustrious career, he was made the No. 5 overall draft pick by the New York Giants. Jones had a solid career in the Big Apple but could never fully overcome some knee problems, and understandably materialized into the destructive force he had been while at Oklahoma.
He now is a part owner in "The Daiquiri Zone" a popular sports bar in downtown Oklahoma City.
•232 tackles, 48.5 tackles for 261 yards lost, 31.5 sacks
• 21 tackles for 100 yards lost, 14 sacks
Jimmy Wilkerson: Wilkerson's career may always be a story of "what might have been". After an amazing sophomore season, many expected Wilkerson to register double digits in sacks and emerge as one of the country's elite defensive ends. However, his junior year, fell short of his sophomore numbers. After his junior campaign Wilkerson moved on to the NFL, somewhat questionably.
Wilkerson began his career as a middle linebacker, and received the highest of praise from the Sooner coaching staff during his freshman year. However, during the national title game against Florida State, it was decided that Wilkerson's tremendous speed could put extra pressure on Seminoles quarterback Chris Weinke.
After a strong performance on the biggest of stages, Wilkerson was permanently moved to defensive end and went on to have a monster year, including three sacks against Texas in the Red River Shootout.
Wilkerson was selected by the Kansas City Chiefs in the sixth round of the NFL draft, and was recently named one of the two Chiefs top rookie defenders.
• 37 tackles for 155 yards lost, 14 sacks
• 20 tackles for 85 yards lost, 7 sacks
Dan Cody: It's hard to find a player on the Oklahoma squad that is easier to pull for. The reason for Cody's devoted fan following is that it's not often a tremendous athlete shows he has weaknesses to the world. Especially weaknesses that are hurting no one but themself.
The crowing moment of the endearing wild man had to be his monster sack of Oklahoma State quarterback Josh Fields causing a fumble that seemed to get the ball rolling for the Sooners.
Cody has recovered tremendously from his bout with depression to become one of the nation's premier defensive ends heading into his senior year. His amazing junior year, if followed by another strong season has lined him up to be Oklahoma's first top round draft choice at defensive end since Bob Stoops' arrival. Some even speculate the Ada native could be a top 10 selection.
• 75 tackles, 24 tackles for 126 yards lost, 17 sacks, and two forced fumbles
• 43 tackles, 17 tackles for 93 yards lost, 10 sacks, and two forced fumbles