Sam Bradford's high school coach stared at the TV, chewing his nails and waiting for the announcement.
OKLAHOMA CITY — Sam Bradford's high school coach stared at the TV, chewing his nails and waiting for the announcement.
When he and about a dozen others heard the name "Sam," they roared so loudly no one could hear the last name. It didn't matter.
It was a night to celebrate for Bob Wilson, Bradford's high school coach at Putnam City North, where he worked with the Oklahoma quarterback who is now a Heisman Trophy winner.
"It felt like right before a state championship game," Wilson said.
Within seconds of Bradford's big win, Wilson received a text from a coaching friend: "He's a stud," the coach wrote about Bradford, who played for Wilson's Panthers from 2003-05.
Yep, they're proud of Bradford at his alma mater.
"You just fight back the emotions and the tears," Wilson said. "You think that maybe you had a small part somewhere" in his success. "This kid was so far along when we got him, he had such a great background with his folks and such a great family, he was pretty well grounded.
"It makes you feel good that sometimes good guys win. To see that everything you talk about as a coach — be disciplined, do things right on and off the field, stay away from people who aren't going to help you to be successful, care about people and have lifelong friends, do all those things, and a kid does that and he wins the Heisman? It doesn't get any better."
Bradford, a sophomore, has posted gaudy statistics for No. 2 Oklahoma (12-1), passing for 4,464 yards and 48 touchdowns this season. Oklahoma has scored 702 points, breaking the major college record of 656 set by Hawaii in 2006. The Sooners, who will face top-ranked Florida in the national championship game, are the first major college team in 89 years to score at least 60 points in five straight games.
Bradford's high school numbers weren't quite as flashy, but they were impressive.
He was a rare three-year starter for North, which plays in Class 6A, the highest level of competition in Oklahoma. Bradford received All-State honors after passing for 2,422 yards and 19 touchdowns as a senior. The season before, he threw for 1,980 yards and 16 touchdowns and led the Panthers to the 6A semifinals.
"What we really tried to push hard after his junior year was that he could play on the high Division I level," Wilson said. "A lot of college coaches came through. I told them, 'If you're asking my opinion, it's this, he's either going to be playing for you, or you're going to be playing against him. ... I think that's a decision you've got to make.' That's the way we felt."
Bradford didn't only excel in football. He starred in basketball and golf at North and graduated in the upper 10 percent of his class, with a 4.2 grade point average and a 27 on his ACT test.
"It's wonderful to have that guy on your football team, but you miss him in your school as much as you miss him on the field, because he's just a great kid," said John Murphy, an assistant principal at North.
Murphy oversees a class called "Service Learning," in which students help tutor children at nearby elementary schools. Bradford participated, and in an essay he submitted to Murphy, he said it had been his favorite class at North.
"I felt like that said so much about Sam," Murphy said, "because some people might have thought his favorite thing to do was be a great football star or a basketball star. But he said his favorite class was 'Service Learning' ... because that's the kind of guy he is. He's a servant.
"You can take away all his athletic ability, and he's just a great guy. You'd want your daughter to marry him."
Murphy, clutching his Sooner-themed cell phone, might have been the most nervous person in the room before the Heisman was handed out. When Bradford's season stats were discussed on the telecast, he blurted out, "So how is this a contest?" And when he heard Bradford's father, Kent, say that his son had "already won it in my mind," Murphy responded, "There you go."
Of course, it wasn't quite so simple. Bradford received 1,726 points, edging Texas quarterback Colt McCoy, who was second with 1,604, and last year's winner, Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, who was third with 1,575 votes.
Tebow received the most first-place votes — 309, nine more than Bradford. Bradford joined two others in winning the Heisman without receiving the most first-place votes — Paul Hornung of Notre Dame (1956) and Billy Sims of Oklahoma (1978).
Sims and the Sooners' two other living Heisman winners — Steve Owens (1969) and Jason White (2003) — were on the stage in New York when Bradford received the award. Sims shouted, "Sooner legends will get you!" after Bradford's name was announced.
Now, Bradford is one of those legends. Soon he will join Owens, White, Sims and the late Billy Vessels, the 1952 Heisman winner, in having a statue of himself placed in Oklahoma's Heisman Park, across the street from Owen Field in Norman.
"I don't think I can even describe it," Bradford said. "It's a great feeling. It's hard to consider myself the same as Jason White, someone I grew up watching, idolizing.
"That we're in an elite group together, it's hard for me to understand."