|Height: 6-4 | Weight: 236 | College: Oklahoma|
After capturing the Heisman Trophy, Sammy Baugh Trophy, Chic Harley Award and the Davey O'Brien Award after the 2008 season, many expected Bradford to ply his wares in the National Football League in 2009. With an overflowing mantelpiece, the Sooners' quarterback opted to stay at OU hoping to bring home the school's eighth national championship, and first since the 2000 campaign.
Even before the season began, All-American tight end Jermaine Gresham suffered a right knee injury that required surgery and missed the entire campaign. Preseason All-American Trent Williams shifted to left tackle from the right side, but the Sooners' offensive line struggled in the season opener vs. Brigham Young. With costly mistakes and penalties already creating concern, protecting Bradford from the Cougar's defensive onslaught was nearly impossible.
"Twelve offensive penalties," OU head coach Bob Stoops lamented at his weekly media luncheon, including the flags that were declined by BYU. "It was a lack of execution, poise and discipline."
That would be the least of Oklahoma's problems. Bradford suffered a right shoulder AC joint separation in that game, a 14-13 loss, when he took a direct hit from a blitzing linebacker. With their title hopes dashed, the quarterback would soon find himself on the shelf for the rest of the year, after trying to return to the field three weeks later.
The original prognosis was a third-degree sprain that would take two-to-four weeks to heal. The quarterback sought out advice from several NFL quarterbacks who had suffered the same injury, and he decided to bypass surgery for a rehabilitation program. He returned to the gridiron vs. Baylor, throwing for 389 yards in a 33-7 victory.
"Sam has had a great week of practice and was ready to play," Stoops said after meeting with Bradford prior to the Baylor clash. "We're obviously excited to have him back."
The joy soon turned to despair after Bradford re-injured his shoulder the following week against Texas. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner was jerked down by Longhorns cornerback Aaron Williams while running backward trying to get away from the defender on Oklahoma's second drive. Williams got Bradford by the waist, but the quarterback landed on his shoulder and began writhing in pain right away. "The MRI showed no different damage than what was already there," Stoops said.
To better prepare to make a decision whether to have shoulder surgery, Bradford placed a call to another quarterback who has been there, done that.
"We've been trading phone calls," Alex Smith of the San Francisco 49ers stated. "He called, twice. When you've torn ligaments in your shoulder, it takes time to heal. It's different than other positions. When you take hits like that, it impairs your ability to throw the ball."
Smith knows all about that. He first injured his throwing shoulder in 2007 and was limited to seven games. He hurt the shoulder in training camp the next year and spent all of 2008 on injured reserve. For that reason and more, Bradford sought the right person for counsel.
With his teammates standing behind him and the media before him, Bradford held a late October press conference and discussed his future and the disappointment of a junior season that ended virtually before it began.
"To make this decision and realize I've probably played my last game" at OU, Bradford said before hesitating, "It's really tough."
Bradford announced that he would have season-ending surgery on his injured right (throwing) shoulder. He discussed that decision with the media on campus. The quarterback said teammates have supported him while he's tried to return from an injury, and several -- including All-America tight end Jermaine Gresham -- stood behind him at the podium. Two days later, noted surgeon Dr. James Andrews performed surgery on Bradford's shoulder, ending his collegiate career.
The junior also announced that he would not return to the team for the 2010 season and became the first underclassman to declare for the 2010 NFL Draft.
In just two-plus seasons as the Sooners' starting quarterback, Bradford became the first player in school history to throw for over 8,000 yards. He finished as Oklahoma's all-time leader with 8,403 aerial yards and a 67.64 pass completion percentage. His 88 touchdown passes also established a team career-record, as he finished third with 604 completions on 893 pass attempts.
Bradford's 36 touchdown passes in 2007 were the most by a freshman in the history of major college football. His 86 scoring strikes (50 in 2008) combined are the most by a quarterback during his first two seasons (freshman/sophomore).
In 2008, Bradford threw for 4,720 yards, joining running backs Chris Brown (1,220 yards) and DeMarco Murray (1,002) in producing the first FBS team to feature a 4,000-yard passer and two 1,000-yard rushers in the same season. Only nine other teams have ever had a 4,000-yard passer and one 1,000-yard runner during the same campaign in NCAA annals.
Bradford is an official citizen of the Cherokee Nation, and is also listed on the tribe's rolls. He is one-sixteenth Cherokee through his paternal great-great-grandmother, Susie Walkingstick, who was a full-blooded Cherokee. He is the first person of Cherokee descent to start at quarterback for a Division I university since Sonny Sixkiller, a full-blooded Cherokee, who played for the University of Washington during the 1970-72 seasons.
Greg Maddox, a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, started for James Madison from 1996-98 and is the last Native American to hold the distinction before Bradford. The Sooner quarterback Bradford also holds the distinction of being the first Native American to win the Heisman Trophy. He was also an honor student in finance.
At Putnam City North High School, Bradford was named to the Oklahoma Coaches Association All-State team as a senior. He was also a second-team All-State pick by The Oklahoman after throwing for 2,422 yards and 19 touchdowns that year. He was rated the 17th-best prep quarterback in the nation by both College Football News and Scout.com and the 12th-best pro-style passer by Rivals.com. That recruiting service also rated him the sixth-best overall prospect in the state of Oklahoma.
The Super Prep All-American choice added All-City gridiron honors as a junior. He starred in basketball and golf. As a senior, he averaged 10.5 rebounds and 18.4 points per game for the Panthers.
While most major colleges were pursuing the quarterbacks rated ahead of Bradford, including the likes of Pat Devlin, Juice Williams, Josh Freeman, Mitch Mustain, Matthew Stafford and Tim Tebow, Bradford was perfectly content with "staying home" and accepting a scholarship offer from Oklahoma.
After redshirting in 2006, he took the reins in 2007, earning Freshman All-American honors. He was selected the National Freshman of the Year by The Sporting News and was a finalist for the coveted Manning Award, given to the nation's top quarterback. In addition to setting the NCAA freshman record with 36 touchdown tosses, he led the nation with a 176.53 passing efficiency rating. He would go on to complete 237-of-341 attempts (school season-record 69.5 percent) for 3,121 yards and only eight interceptions.
As a sophomore, Bradford's 67.91 pass completion percentage was good for second place on the school annual record list. He set the Sooner and Big Twelve Conference record with 50 touchdown strikes, as his 328 completions of 483 attempts both rank second on the Sooners' annual record chart. His 180.84 passing efficiency rating broke the team record that he set the previous season. He also rushed for five touchdowns, finishing with 4,767 yards in total offense, the fifth-best season total in OU annals.
After such a stellar start to his career, many experts thought that Bradford would leave the Sooners for the National Football League after the 2008 season. But his desire to bring a national title to the program saw him return to the team in 2009. The shoulder injury would limit him to one full game and see action in parts of two others before surgery ended that campaign. He finished with 36-of-69 passes (56.17 percent) for 562 yards and two touchdowns.
Accuracy: One of the more deadly accurate passers in recent memory whether throwing short, intermediate or deep. Places throws in tight spaces when facing zones or splitting two defenders down the seam. Puts the ball on his man's numbers so he can make a play after the catch, whether the receiver is standing still or on the move. Anticipates receivers' routes very well, and doesn't have to wait until they make their break or get open. Accurate on fades into the end zone or behind defenses, although a bit inconsistent in trajectory on those throws.
Arm Strength: Tall, lanky player who doesn't own a cannon but has more than enough arm strength to be successful in the NFL. Able to fit the ball into tight quarters, especially in the middle of the field. Uses anticipation and accuracy to connect on deep outs; NFL corners may jump those throws. Will stretch the field vertically when needed.
Setup/Release: Decisive and quick with his release. Tight spiral on most every throw. Generally quiet feet, patient and poised, but may have gotten more gun-shy with an inexperienced offensive line if not injured in 2009. Willing to stand in and deliver against pressure before the injury. Throws from three-quarter slot at times, which negates his height advantage. Works out of the shotgun often but is solid with his footwork and balanced in drops. Good ball fake when in play-action, causes peeking corners to bite using a strong pump fake.
Reading Defenses: Able to go through progressions or looks off safety when in the pocket, but often hit the primary read or quick screen in Oklahoma's spread offense. Understands hot reads and where defense is vulnerable, but his lack of feel for backside pressure and missing late blitzers cost him dearly last season. Trusts his arm and receivers too much in tight spaces, and at times won't recognize dropping linebackers and late-moving safeties. Comfortable leading his team in tight situations and has adequate clock awareness, but should improve with more snaps. Coaches called plays for Bradford.
On the Move: Maintains square shoulders and places the ball on target whether throwing left or right. Keeps his wits about him (and eyes down the field) if pressure takes away his rollout, resets and delivers on time. Nimble feet in the pocket; able to create room for himself to deliver the ball. Drifts toward the line of scrimmage when rolling out to his left, allowing defenders to reach him more easily. Not a scrambler or very elusive as a runner in space, but is mobile enough to pick up first downs on rollouts if defense lays off.
Intangibles: Intelligent, high-character, well-respected player on and off the field. Quiet leader by example who doesn't panic but needs to vocally hold teammates more accountable. Lack of bulk and durability are major questions after missing of last season with a shoulder injury.
NFL Comparison: Eli Manning, Giants
Bradford started all 31 games in which he appeared at Oklahoma, setting school records by completing 67.64 percent of his passes (604-of-893) for 8,403 yards and 88 touchdowns, topping the previous marks of 63.8 percent by Josh Heupel (1999-2000) and 81 scoring strikes and 7,922 yards by Jason White (1999-2004) His 16 interceptions gave him an interception percentage of 1.79 percent, the third-lowest career mark by any Big Twelve Conference passer behind Stephen McGee of Texas A&M (1.6 percent, 2005-08) and Graham Harrell of Texas Tech (1.7 percent, 2005-08) In 2008, Bradford threw for 4,720 yards, joining running backs Chris Brown (1,220 yards) and DeMarco Murray (1,002) in producing the first FBS team to feature a 4,000-yard passer and two 1,000-yard rushers in the same season His 36 touchdown passes in 2007 broke the NCAA freshman single-season record of 29 that was set by David Neill of Nevada in 1998 His 86 touchdown tosses combined are the most by a quarterback in his freshman and sophomore seasons combined, topping the previous mark of 55 by Rex Grossman of Florida (21 in 2000 and 34 in 2001) His 88 scoring strikes during his first three seasons topped the previous NCAA record by a quarterback at the conclusion of a junior season, breaking the old mark of 86 by Ty Detmer of Brigham Young (13 in 1988, 32 in 1989, 41 in 1990) His passing efficiency rating of 175.16 surpassed the NCAA career record (minimum 500 attempts) of 168.9 by Ryan Dinwiddie of Boise State (2000-03) He led the nation in passing efficiency in both 2007 (175.53) and 2008 (180.84), joining Jim McMahon of Brigham Young (176.9 in 1980 and 155.0 in 1981) and Elvis Grbac of Michigan (169.0 in 1991 and 154.2 in 1992) to win that title twice in a career (also are the only players to ever accomplish that feat in back-to-back seasons) In the Big Twelve Conference career record books, his 8,403 yards passing rank seventh in league annals His average of 9.41 yards per pass attempt broke the old Big Twelve all-time record of 9.2 yards by Michael Bishop of Kansas State (1997-98) and his average of 13.91 yards per pass completion set the school career-record and rank tenth in conference annals Bradford's pass completion percentage of 67.64 percent set the school career-record and placed him third in Big Twelve history behind Colt McCoy of Texas (70.33 percent, 2006-09) and Graham Harrell of Texas Tech (69.77 percent, 2005-08) His 88 touchdown passes are the fifth-best career total by a Big Twelve player behind Harrell (134), McCoy (112), Chase Daniel of Missouri (101, 2005-08) and Kliff Kingsbury of Texas Tech (95, 1999-2002) Bradford's 604 pass completions rank behind Josh Heupel (654, 1999-2000) and Jason White (627, 1999-2004) in school history He threw for over 300 yards in a game fourteen times, tying the Sooner all-time record that was first set by Heupel Bradford's 4,767 yards in total offense for 2008 set the school season-record and rank 13th in NCAA annals. (also placed fifth in Big Twelve history) He is just the sixth player in NCAA history to produce a passing efficiency rating over 180.0 in a season (180.84 in 2008), which was topped by just Colt Brennan of Hawaii (186.0 in 2006), Shaun King of Tulane (183.3 in 1998) and Stefan LeFors of Louisville (181.7 in 2004) His school record 4,720 yards passing in 2008 rank 12th in major college history and sixth in Big Twelve annals Bradford became only the fourth player in major college history to throw for 50 touchdowns in a season (2008), joining Colt Brennan of Hawaii (58 in 2006), David Klingler of Houston (54 in 1990) and B.J. Symons of Texas Tech (52 in 2003) His 4,720 aerial yards in 2008 rank sixth on the Big Twelve annual record books His 483 pass attempts in 2008 rank behind Josh Heupel (553 in 1999) on the school season-record list and his 328 pass completions that year also placed second on that list behind Heupel's 199 total of 349 His 4,767 yards in total offense in 2008 set the school season-record and rank fifth on the Big Twelve annual record chart He twice threw for over 400 yards in 2008, tying Heupel's record set in 1999 and his 11 300-yard passing performances in 2008 topped Heupel's previous school mark of eight in 1999 Threw for at least five touchdowns in a game five times, a school record His averages of 16.0 yards per pass attempt and 21.7 yards per pass completion vs. Texas Tech in 2008 set Big Twelve game records.
The unanimous All-American first-team preseason selection in just one full game (vs. Baylor) and parts of two others (vs. Brigham Young and Texas) before undergoing right shoulder AC joint surgery on Oct. 28 that would sideline him for the rest of the year Added ESPN/CoSIDA Academic All-District honors At the time of his departure, he was leading the nation with a 187.33 passing efficiency rating The junior went on to complete 39-of-69 passes (56.52 percent) for 562 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions Also carried four times for losses totaling 18 yards, as he gained 544 yards in total offense, an average of 181.33 yards per game.
The consensus All-American first-team selection was the recipient of the Heisman Trophy, Davey O'Brien Award, Sammy Baugh Trophy and Chic Harley Award winner Bradford added All-Big Twelve Conference first-team accolades and was named the league's Offensive Player of the Year by the coaches association Chosen Academic All-Big Twelve and was a member of the ESPN/CoSIDA Academic All-American second-team Became the first OU quarterback to lead his team to two conference titles, as he also was just the third player in major college history to lead the nation in passing efficiency (180.84) twice in a career Bradford threw for 4,720 yards, joining running backs Chris Brown (1,220 yards) and DeMarco Murray (1,002) in producing the first FBS team to feature a 4,000-yard passer and two 1,000-yard rushers in the same season His school record 4,720 yards passing in 2008 rank 12th in major college history and sixth in Big Twelve annals Became only the fourth player in major college history to throw for 50 touchdowns in a season (2008), joining Colt Brennan of Hawaii (58 in 2006), David Klingler of Houston (54 in 1990) and B.J. Symons of Texas Tech (52 in 2003) His 483 pass attempts in 2008 rank behind Josh Heupel (553 in 1999) on the school season-record list and his 328 pass completions that year also placed second on that list behind Heupel's 199 total of 349 He twice threw for over 400 yards in 2008, tying Heupel's record set in 1999 and his eleven 300-yard passing performances in 2008 topped Heupel's previous school mark of eight in 1999 His 86 touchdown tosses combined are the most by a quarterback in his freshman and sophomore seasons combined, topping the previous mark of 55 by Rex Grossman of Florida (21 in 2000 and 34 in 2001) Generated 4,767 yards in total offense, a school season-record (fifth-best total in league annals) Just the sixth player in NCAA history to produce a passing efficiency rating over 180.0 in a season (180.84 in 2008), which was topped by Colt Brennan of Hawaii (186.0 in 2006), Shaun King of Tulane (183.3 in 1998) and Stefan LeFors of Louisville (181.7 in 2004) Had at least five touchdown passes in four games (vs. Cincinnati, Washington, Texas and Nebraska) Rushed for 47 yards and five touchdowns on 42 carries (1.12 yards per carry), as he was sacked just nine times while helping the Sooners lead the nation in scoring (51.14 points per game) and finish third in both passing yardage (349.36 ypg) and total offense (547.86 ypg).
Bradford earned Freshman All-American honors from The Sporting News and College Football News, as TSN named him the National Freshman of the Year and CFN selected him as the Big Twelve Conference's Player of the Year Added Academic All-Big Twelve accolades Was a finalist for the Manning Award as the nation's top quarterback Set the NCAA freshman record for touchdown passes in a season with 36, as he also led the major college ranks with a passing efficiency rating of 176.53, ahead of second-place Tim Tebow, the Heisman Trophy winner Connected on 237-of-341 passes (school season-record 69.5 percent) for 3,121 yards and eight interceptions His 36 touchdown tosses rank third on OU's annual record chart His average of 223.43 yards per game in total offense placed him 55th in the nation, as he accounted for 15.43 points per game (ranked 17th nationally) Completed 22-straight passes (last 18 vs. North Texas and first four vs. Miami), setting an OU record and falling just two shy of the NCAA mark Had another string of 21 Twice tied the school single-game record, throwing five touchdowns in each of the Miami and Texas A&M clashes Had multiple touchdown passes in eleven games, starting all 14 contests.
Redshirted as a freshman.
2009: Bradford left the season opener vs. Brigham Young (Sept. 5) just before halftime with a right shoulder AC joint sprain that would sideline him for the next three contests (vs. Idaho State, Tulsa and Miami) Returned to action vs. Baylor (10/10), but re-injured his shoulder on the second series of the Texas clash (10/17), undergoing surgery on Oct. 28 that forced him to miss the rest of the season.
Campus: 4.72 in the 40-yard dash 1.65 10-yard dash 2.72 20-yard dash 4.43 20-yard shuttle 7.14 three-cone drill 32-inch vertical jump 9'3" broad jump 32-inch arm length 9 3/8-inch hands.
Attended Putnam City (Okla.) North High School, playing football for head coach Bob Wilson Named to the Oklahoma Coaches Association All-State team as a senior Also a second-team All-State pick by The Oklahoman after throwing for 2,422 yards and 19 touchdowns that year Rated the 17th-best prep quarterback in the nation by both College Football News and Scout.com, and the 12th-best pro-style passer by Rivals.com That recruiting service also rated him the sixth-best overall prospect in the state of Oklahoma The Super Prep All-American choice added All-City gridiron honors as a junior Also starred in basketball and golf As a senior, he averaged 10.5 rebounds and 18.4 points per game on the hardwood court for the Panthers.
Finance major, earning Academic All-Big Twelve Conference and All-District honors
Rang the opening bell at the NY Stock Exchange three days after winning the Heisman (Dow rose 100 points that day) Bradford is an official citizen of the Cherokee Nation, and is also listed on the tribe's rolls. He is one-sixteenth Cherokee through his paternal great-great-grandmother, Susie Walkingstick, who was a full-blooded Cherokee. He is the first person of Cherokee descent to start at quarterback for a Division I university since Sonny Sixkiller, a full-blooded Cherokee, who played for the University of Washington during the 1970-72 seasons. Greg Maddox, a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, started for James Madison from 1996-98 and is the last Native American to hold the distinction before Bradford. The Sooner quarterback Bradford also holds the distinction of being the first Native American to win the Heisman Trophy Son of Martha and Kent Bradford Father was an Oklahoma University offensive lineman (1977-78) Member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at OU, as he has been since high school Reads the story of David and Goliath before every game, and was featured on the cover of STV (a Christian athletic magazine) In 2009, Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett declared January 13th as "Sam Bradford Day" in Oklahoma City Born 11/08/87 Resides in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.