2020-02-02

The Path Of The Trio Of Sooners To The Super Bowl

Tom Pennington/Getty Images
An unlikely trio of Sooners will make their Super Bowl debut on Sunday in Miami.

Damien Williams, James Winchester and Blake Bell will be on the biggest stage in American sports.

Of the three – only Bell was selected in NFL Draft. Selected 117th overall by San Francisco 49ers in 2015 draft as a tight end after former Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops named freshman Trevor Knight the starting quarterback at the beginning of 2013 season.

Bell, four-star prospect by Rivals, arrived at Oklahoma in 2011 as one of the top quarterback prospects in the nation from Bishop Carroll HS (Wichita, KS).

He has embodied the spirit of a team player, instead of transferring, he moved to tight end.

“A lot of players couldn’t have dealt with (getting benched) mentally,” Alan Schuckman, Bell's coach at Bishop Carroll told Wichita Eagle.

“But Blake is built different. He seems to get stronger and stronger every time an opportunity didn’t go the way everybody else thought it whould go. He just looked at it as a new challenge to get better.”

Bell, as a senior, had 16 catches, 214 yards, 4 touchdowns in his new role.

An offensive teammate of Bell at Oklahoma was running back Damien Williams, a junior college transfer from Western Arizona College. Williams, in two seasons at Oklahoma, accounted for 1,499 rushing yards before being dismissed by Stoops after failed drug tests.

Williams signed with Miami Dolphins as an undrafted free agent. Throughout the years he has continued to show his resilience – only starting four games while at Oklahoma or Miami.

Williams suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in 2017 season, his relationship with Dolphins head coach Adam Gase had grown cold. While recovering from an offseason surgery, the organization refused to return his calls and he was admittedly hurt.

“That really hurt,” Williams said. “I was there four years and gave Miami my all. I still have not spoken to him to this day. That hurt me because me and Gase were cool.”

He knew his time in Miami was likely coming to an end. In 2018 offseason, Williams would become an eventual free agent signing with a two-year, $8.1M contract with Kansas City.

However, Williams doesn’t regret his time with Gase -- crediting him for his growth as a player.

“I feel like he’s kind of the reason I’m here as far as opening me up as a football player, being able to catch the ball out of the backfield. My year with him, I scored my most touchdowns any year being with the Dolphins. I had a great experience,” Williams said, via Newsday.

Ahead of 2019 season, head coach Andy Reid gave Williams the opportunity to become the featured back for the most explosive offense since the greatest show on turf.

Williams, bothered by a hamstring injury this season, enters the Super Bowl with 498 rushing yards, five touchdowns, while accounting for 213 yards, four touchdowns out of the backfield in the air.

If the Chiefs offense can’t deliver first downs, long-snapper Winchester will ensure delivery of the ball to punter Dustin Colquitt.

Winchester, a walk-on at Oklahoma from Washington, Okla., joined the league as an undrafted free agent signing with Philadelphia Eagles in 2013.

Many fans learned of Winchester when his father, Michael Winchester, 52, a Southwest Airlines employee was tragically killed in Will Rogers Airport shooting in November 2016. A special teams specialist has been a constant of the Chiefs, not missing a game since being signed in 2015.

Winchester knows his fellow Sooners, the forty-nine teammates will have to play at their highest levels to bring home the Lombardy Trophy to Kansas City.

“A coach in college would always say, ‘You’re only as good as your next play.’ That’s true. You can let that one define you, or you can move forward with it, ” Winchester told Kansas City Star in November.

“There were some valuable lessons there and it pushed me to get better and continue to perfect my craft, and I’m still doing that today to try to get better.”

Super Bowl LIV kickoffs off at 5:30 on FOX.

Share this PostTwitter sharePin ThisShare on TumblrShare on Google PlusEmail This