By Nick Gholson
Thursday, June 7, 2012
Sheldon Wilson admits he cried during his first day of football practice. He was only 6 years old.
Ever since then, he has left the opposition crying in their Gatorade.
Oklahoma’s Offensive Player of the Year set a state record with 7,774 yards rushing in his four years at Anadarko High.
Last season, when he led the Warriors to a 15-0 record and the Class 3A state championship, he set another record — 57 touchdowns in a single season.
No telling what kind of numbers this kid would have put up if he hadn’t spent so much of his senior season on the bench.
“He didn’t play the fourth quarter until the quarterfinals. And then he didn’t play very long,” Anadarko coach Kent Jackson said. “In our first 12 games, he played about a half.”
But in the state quarterfinals, semifinals and finals, Wilson ran for 390 yards against 12-0 Metro Christian, 390 again against 13-1 Berryhill and 229 against 14-0 Cascia Hall.
That’s 1,009 yards and 12 touchdowns.
A pretty nice season for some running backs.
But for Wilson, it was three games against teams with a combined 39-1 record.
If that doesn’t make you want to buy an Oil Bowl ticket, nothing will.
“I have speed, vision and moves,” Wilson said. “And they keep giving me the ball.”
Oklahoma coaches brought plenty of talented runners, like Tulsa-bound James Flanders of Midwest City and Casey Curtis of Putnam City, so Wilson said he doesn’t expect to get more than eight or 10 carries on Saturday night.
But that might add up to 125 yards. This guy averaged 12.8 yards per carry his senior year.
And after football, he led his team to the state championship game in basketball and then took gold at the state track and field meet in his first year competing in the long jump.
He also has a gold medal personality and a magnetic smile.
He credits his dad for introducing him to football and his mom and coach for getting him straightened out in the classroom.
Wilson has the talent to be going to Oklahoma State or Oklahoma his freshman year. But a low, but not all that low, ACT score will detour him to junior college at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M.
“My freshman and sophomore years held me back. I did just enough to get by and play football,” he admits. “I started getting college offers when I was just a sophomore. It started with Texas Tech and then week after week, they kept coming.”
But it wasn’t until his junior year that he started cracking the books. He proudly said he made all B’s his junior and senior years.
“We have an academy at our school that meets from 4 to 8 p.m. each evening. It is mostly for pregnant mothers and the bad, bad kids. But Sheldon took some classes at the academy just to up his D’s into B’s,” Jackson said. “His grades were fine, but he struggled some with the ACT test. He came up a little short but wasn’t far off.”
Barry Sanders Jr., the son of the Heisman Trophy winner at OSU, rushed for 1,136 yards and 16 touchdowns at Heritage Hall High School last season, but he got a scholarship to Stanford.
“Coaches tell me there is no comparison between the two,” Jackson said. “I am not sure Heritage Hall used Sanders like they needed to. We asked Sheldon to carry the load for us. I don’t think Barry Sanders could have carried it 20 to 25 times a game.”
Right now Wilson hopes to be the running back at Oklahoma State in a couple of years.
“He does some unbelievable things on the football field,” said Jackson, the nephew of Wichitan Jan Pipkin. “The only knock on him is his size (5-foot-11, 185 pounds). But he has never been in a weight room all year either.”
“I am going to get up to 200 pounds and put on more muscle. I want to be a running back,” Wilson said.
That’s where most college teams want him. But Texas Tech thinks he might make a good receiver.
So if the Oil Bowl coaches want to line this kid up a few times and throw him the ball, it’s a good bet he will catch it and find his favorite place.
The end zone.
Before the jerseys were passed out on Tuesday, Wilson asked the coaches to give him No. 1. And they did.
No. 1 to this kid is more than a number — it’s an attitude.
Sports Editor Nick Gholson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 940-720-3447.