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5 Oklahoma Anyone trying to grab the Sooners' national crown will have to go through Rocky

For a blond linebacker at Oklahoma with a tough-sounding moniker
and an even tougher disposition on the football field, Rocky
Calmus has surprisingly little in common with Brian Bosworth.
Unlike the Boz, the self-aggrandizing Sooner who won the Butkus
Award in 1985 and '86, Calmus is quiet and humble, an avid
reader of the Bible who enjoys deflecting praise to his
teammates. On those rare occasions when he has overtly attempted
to mimic the Boz, he has come up short: When he was a kid in
Jenks, Okla., his mom refused to let him get one of the Boz's
patented mullet cuts, and last year in the voting for the Butkus
Award, he finished second (to Dan Morgan of Miami).

While he doesn't have the hairdo or the hardware to match
Bosworth, Calmus is at least more dependable. Bosworth missed one
of the biggest games of his career, the 1987 Orange Bowl, after
testing positive for steroids. Calmus played the biggest game of
his career, the 2001 Orange Bowl, with a broken thumb. (That was
nothing new for Calmus. He had nine tackles against Oklahoma
State in 1999 while playing with a broken bone in his right leg,
and as a seventh-grader he played in a baseball game with a
broken ankle.) In the Orange Bowl he forced Florida State
quarterback Chris Weinke to fumble deep in his own territory in
the fourth quarter, setting up the game's only touchdown. The
Calmus-led Sooners D kept the Seminoles' offense, which came into
the game averaging 39.9 points, off the board, and Oklahoma won
its seventh national title--but first since 1985.

"Rocky has a knack for finding his way to the football, even
though most offensive schemes are designed to keep him from doing
that," says coach Bob Stoops. Calmus, who has added 35 pounds to
his frame since arriving at Oklahoma, has used that nose for the
ball to offset the fact that he is not the most physically gifted
linebacker on the team. "I don't stray too far," says Calmus of
his freestyling. "I better make the play, or I'll hear about it."

Calmus hasn't heard about it much in his three years in Norman,
during which he has surpassed Bosworth's record for tackles for
loss by a linebacker, with 42. Shortly after the Orange Bowl he
had surgery to repair the thumb--a bone from his hip was grafted
into his hand--allowing him to enjoy a rare spell of fitness.
"This is the first summer I was able to lift without a cast," he

The prospect of a stronger Calmus leading a defense that has six
starters back should make Stoops fret a little less about having
to replace quarterback Josh Heupel, last year's Heisman
runner-up. The two leading candidates are junior Nate Hybl and
sophomore Jason White, a pair Stoops considered to be on equal
footing heading into two-a-days. Before coming to Norman 2 1/2
years ago, Stoops spent three years as an assistant to Steve
Spurrier at Florida and saw firsthand the effectiveness of a
dual-quarterback system. So don't be surprised to see both Hybl
and White playing. "They pretty much bring the same things to the
table," says Stoops. "They're big, strong guys who can run and
have strong arms. The only difference is that Nate is a better
golfer and Jason is a better basketball player."

Whoever is under center will have the benefit of being surrounded
by a bevy of talented skill players. The top eight receivers (who
accounted for 3,512 yards and 21 touchdowns) and top two rushers
(Quentin Griffin and Renaldo Works, who combined for 1,216 yards
and 22 scores) are back, and sophomore running back Jerad Estus
was impressive in spring drills.

Last year Stoops got used to having people, as he says, "put
bull's-eyes" on his team, waiting for the seemingly overachieving
Sooners to lose. This season, again, the defending national
champs are sure to be marked. Waiting for them to get toppled,
though, may not be a good idea. Says Stoops, "We know how to put
bull's-eyes on other guys too."

--Mark Bechtel

COLOR PHOTO: JOHN BIEVER Calmus is, by choice, no Boz, except that he's a big, blond, bruising linebacker who always gets to the ball.


2000 record: 13-0 (8-0, 1st Big 12 South)
Final ranking: No. 1 AP, No. 1 coaches' poll


Rushing TDs by Quentin Griffin, the most by a Sooners halfback
since Billy Sims's 22 in 1979.


RB Quentin Griffin [Jr.]
1,189 all-purpose yards (406 receiving)

LB Rocky Calmus [Sr.]
Of his 125 tackles, 17 were for a loss

DB Derrick Strait [So.]
Big 12 defensive freshman of the year

WR Antwone Savage [Jr.]
598 receiving yards, team's most since '92

P Jeff Ferguson [Sr.]
Led conference with 43.9 net average

An opposing team's coach sizes up the Sooners

"There's dissension on the staff about who the quarterback
should be. People don't realize that the Sooners didn't play
good offense in their last four games. Josh Heupel put them in a
lot of checks at the line. They have to incorporate a better
running game. Nate Hybl and Jason White are much better runners
than Heupel. I bet you'll see Oklahoma use more option and
quarterback running.... The offensive line is more of a question
mark than the quarterback. Tackle Frank Romero is a good player,
and guard Howard Duncan is pretty good, but the Sooners are
starting two new linemen, including redshirt freshman Wes Sims
at right tackle.... Roy Williams has to be the best safety in
the country. Antonio Perkins might be better than either of the
corners who played last year. [Co-defensive coordinator] Mike
Stoops thinks the kid has it all.... The biggest loss on defense
will be up front. [Tackle] Bary Holleyman is O.K., but he isn't
a dominator."

Strength: 51st of 117

Sept. 1 at Air Force
Oct. 6 vs. Texas*
13 at Kansas
27 at Nebraska
Nov. 10 TEXAS A&M
17 at Texas Tech

*At Dallas