Former Oklahoma star running back Mike Gaddis had a thing for Oklahoma State. He liked to beat them, and beat them bad.
“Being from Oklahoma, you know what that game’s about and a lot of those kids you play against in high school, so there’s a lot of trash talking throughout the year and lot of trash talking for me with the coaches,” Gaddis said of his in-state rival. “It was personal. Because I remember how hard they recruited me and then when I ruled them out, they said I couldn’t play. So I took it personal. I always got up for that game.”
In three seasons against the Pokes Gaddis churned out 213, 274, and 203 yards. In his 213 yard game (1988) he matched eventual Heisman Trophy winner Barry Sanders stride for stride. Sanders ended the game with 215 yards but Gaddis walked off the field on the winning side of a 31-28 decision.
“That was a special game because, number one, I was in a car wreck that week and I didn’t know if I was going to be able to play. So driving up there on the team bus, they still hadn’t really cleared me to play,” said Gaddis.. “We get there and I’m feeling pretty good and the juices are flowing, so there’s no way I’m not playing. And the option game was just incredible that day.”
On Monday former Oklahoma head coach Barry Switzer announced, through Dean Blevins, that Gaddis had passed away at the age of 50.
For those of us who were around when Gaddis played he’ll be remembered for many things. He’s a prime example of a fighter. A health issue plagued him before he even started a game at Oklahoma, and an ACL tear, against Texas, not only ended his Heisman dreams nearly his career. Yet each time he battled back.
Gaddis finished his Oklahoma Football career with 2,622 yards and 27 touchdowns on 423 carries but his story was so much more than than that. The local kid from Carl Albert High School was an inspiration to many athletes from the Midwest City area that would follow him, including former OU fullback J.D. Runnels.
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