Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford: AP Player of the Year

Published 1:44 pm Monday, December 22, 2008

NORMAN, Okla. — Sam Bradford of Oklahoma was voted The Associated Press college football player of the year Monday. He beat out the same two quarterbacks he did in capturing the Heisman Trophy — Colt McCoy of Texas and Tim Tebow of Florida.

Bradford received 27 votes from the AP media panel that votes in the weekly poll. The sophomore quarterback was followed by McCoy with 17 votes. Tebow won the award last year and had 16 votes this time. Texas Tech receiver Michael Crabtree had two votes.

Bradford is the third Oklahoma player to win the AP award, which began in 1998. The others were Josh Heupel in 2000 and Jason White in 2003.

Bradford, McCoy and Tebow finished in the same order in the Heisman balloting. Bradford will lead No. 2 Oklahoma against Tebow and No. 1 Florida in the BCS title game Jan. 8 in Miami.

Oklahoma’s offense this season has been among the most prolific, scoring 702 points and breaking the major-college record of 656 set by Hawaii in 2006. The Sooners are the first major-college team in 89 years to score at least 60 points in five straight games, a streak they’ll take into the showdown with Florida.

Bradford, 6-foot-4 and 218 pounds, has passed for 4,464 yards and 48 touchdowns this season, breaking the school record White set in 2003. He also leads the nation in passing efficiency and has thrown only six interceptions.

Bradford tore ligaments in the thumb on his left (nonthrowing) hand during a win over Oklahoma State on Nov. 29. He played despite the injury as the Sooners routed Missouri in the Big 12 title game Dec. 6 and underwent surgery the next day. Coaches said at the time Bradford most likely will return to practice within 10 days.

Bradford came to Oklahoma in 2006 regarded by many as merely an insurance policy should something happen to Rhett Bomar.

Something did happen. Bomar broke NCAA rules by receiving extra pay for work he did not do at a Norman car dealership, and Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops kicked him off the team that August.

Bradford redshirted in 2006, waiting behind Paul Thompson — who stepped in and guided the Sooners to a Big 12 title — then emerged from a three-way competition for the starting job last season.

He passed for 7,585 yards and a school-record 84 touchdowns in his two seasons as the starter. Bradford needs 338 passing yards against Florida to overtake White for the school record.

Bradford plays in the state that produced the great Jim Thorpe, an American Indian. Bradford is a member of the Cherokee Nation and has become a symbol of sorts in the native American community. He has said he has embraced that heritage more since he became the Sooners’ quarterback than he did while growing up in Oklahoma City.