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Here's the story of how Spangler, who began his post-high school career 1,700 miles away in Spokane, Wash., made it back to Oklahoma for his final three years of collegiate basketball in Norman. A standout prep football and basketball player at Bridge Creek High School in nearby Blanchard, Okla.
Disappointing not only because he was a Sooner fan but also because he felt like he was good enough. With no option of becoming a Sooner, in the fall of 2010 Spangler did what he thought was the next best thing: sign with Gonzaga. As a freshman during the 2011-12 season, Spangler played behind veteran big men Elias Harris and Robert Sacre, both now with the Los Angeles Lakers. Even though Spangler said he truly enjoyed his time at Gonzaga, he decided soon after the season to transfer. With a new OU coaching staff in place (Lon Kruger was named the Sooners' head coach on April 1, 2011), Spangler quickly got an answer. If, on the day of his birth, Spangler had any notions of sports not playing a big role in his life, they were put to rest later that evening.
Regardless of the family's mailing address, when Spangler had free time growing up he could usually be found in one of two places: his dad's football practices or his mom's basketball practices.
James Fraschilla, an OU junior guard and one of Spangler's roommates, said Spangler's rural background has likely contributed to the way he approaches basketball. By all accounts, Spangler has always showcased a blue-collar mentality both on and off the playing surface. At least in comparison to his basketball exploits, relatively few people are aware of his dominance on the high school football field. After finally making it to OU following the 3,500-mile round-trip detour through Spokane, Wash., Spangler had more waiting to do before he could wear the Sooner uniform. Although more than occasionally frustrating for him -- Spangler said he felt helpless on the bench while watching the Sooners compete on game days -- he used the year to his advantage. It didn't take long for OU players and coaches to figure out Spangler was going to be a key performer for the Sooners in 2013-14 and beyond. OU senior forward Tyler Neal, who like Spangler is an Oklahoma native, expounded on Bennett's assessment.
Spangler did get a small taste of what the upcoming season could be like when he joined the Sooners for their five-game exhibition tour in Belgium and France in August. Spangler agreed that it was good to get on the court against outside competition, and the trip showed him how much he's improved in a year's time. A Visit from Mike Mayock Veteran NBC and NFL Network football analyst Mike Mayock visited Norman in preparation for Saturday’s broadcast. Mayock, a former safety at Boston College and with the New York Giants, has earned a well-deserved reputation as a draft guru for NFL Network. Mayock also offered his opinion on the biggest change OU fans will notice in this year’s vintage of the Fighting Irish compared to the 2012 model that claimed a victory in Norman. Asked about his hectic fall schedule, this football junkie offered this closing tidbit: “Are you kidding me? Moving the Chains After going four of 14 on third downs against Notre Dame last season, the OU coaching staff has placed emphasis on the moving the sticks on third down offensively and getting off the field defensively on third down.
On the season, the Sooners are currently 24 of 50 (.480) on third-down conversions, ranking 38th in the country in conversion percentage. Scouting Notre Dame Notre Dame has seen its share of great players come through its program and this season is no different. Irish quarterback Tommy Rees has thrown for over 300 yards in three of four games this season and is most recently coming off a win against Temple in which he went 16 of 23 for 346 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.
On the defensive side, OU senior center Gabe Ikard listed Irish DE Louis Nix as a focal point of the Notre Dame front. Ikard's coach on the offensive line, Bill Bedenbaugh, also stressed the need to shut down the senior.
In weather recorded as "clear and zippy" at 65 degrees on the official play-by-play, OU won the toss and elected to receive. The drive would be indicative of the entire game, coupled with a Sooner defense that silenced Hornung, the eventual Heisman Trophy winner that same season. Bud Wilkinson's Sooners would continue to roll on both sides of the ball heading into the second quarter.
Harris added another score on a 1-yard sneak in the third and Thomas scored his second touchdown of the game in the fourth, this time on defense on a 36-yard pick six. In all, OU held Hornung to 10 of 17 passing for 85 yards and forced the senior to commit four of Notre Dame's six turnovers on the day. Harris finished with five rushes for 23 yards, completing three passes for 39 yards and a touchdown, along with making three of four PATs.
In a well-rounded day, McDonald, who would finish third in the Heisman Trophy voting and was named The Sporting News Player of the Year, rushed 12 times for 52 yards, threw a 49-yard pass, had a 17-yard punt return and picked off two passes, one for the 55-yard touchdown. Thomas also filled up the stat sheet, rushing 10 times for 69 yards and a touchdown, scoring another six on an interception return, and making his mark on special teams with a 41-yard punt and a 17-yard kickoff return. A Coaching Legend's Influence He won't be walking the storied sidelines of Notre Dame Stadium when the Sooners and Fighting Irish kick off this Saturday. Hayden Fry, most notably the head coach at Iowa from 1979-98 who led the Hawkeyes to three Big Ten championships and 14 bowl games, is a legend for those he has impacted in the college football world. Sooner Sports Properties, LLC, is the multimedia rights holder for athletics at the University of Oklahoma.
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And how the influence of his close-knit family and country upbringing helped shape the player -- and person -- he has become. But just like most others who have ever held childhood aspirations of one day suiting up for the Sooners, it looked like Spangler would never get the chance. Under the direction of head coach Mark Few, the Bulldogs at the time had won at least 23 games in 11 straight seasons and made the NCAA Tournament each of those years.
His father, Larry, was a longtime high school head football coach, while his mother, LeAnn, was a special education teacher who also coached high school basketball.
With his dad coaching the Healdton High School football team, his mom drove Ryan to the game in support of Larry mere hours after Ryan was born in nearby Ardmore.
In addition to Healdton, the family lived in the small Oklahoma towns of Crooked Oak, Warner, Marlow and Tuttle, and also spent time in Houston and Denison, Texas.

The constant exposure to those two sports had a big impact on him, as did the strong work ethic his parents exhibited. The quarterback finished his high school career with 6,951 passing yards and 71 touchdowns (against 20 interceptions) while completing 60 percent of his passes.
NCAA regulations stipulate that Division I basketball transfers must sit out a year after going from one school to another. His bulldog approach on the scout team in practice last year routinely caused headaches for those doing battle against him. Bennett, another 6-8 forward who redshirted with OU last year, said Spangler's list of on-court attributes are long. He's got the respect of his teammates, he works so hard and he's very genuine in his interest of doing whatever he can to help the team. They lost 68 percent of their scoring and 62 percent of their rebounding from last year's 20-12 team that qualified for OU's first NCAA Tournament since 2009. Contact the Athletics Ticket Office at 800-456-4668 or the Sooner Club at 405-325-8000 for more information. On Tuesday, he spent time with two NFL hopefuls, center Gabe Ikard and linebacker Corey Nelson, along with head coach Bob Stoops.
In talking with OU coaches and players this week, two names in particular have surfaced that will need to be neutralized for the Sooners to have a good chance of coming out of South Bend with a victory. 10, 1956, Oklahoma played in front of what was then the largest crowd in Notre Dame Stadium history and the largest away crowd the Sooners had ever played in front of - a total of 60,128 fans.
The Sooners, led by senior quarterback Jim Harris, marched 69 yards down the field almost unhindered, scoring the game's first points on a 14-yard pass from Harris to Bell. On Notre Dame's first offensive drive after the touchdown, the Irish reached the Sooner 18-yard line before failing to convert on fourth down. Junior Clendon Thomas ran untouched from 11 yards out to give the Sooners a 19-0 lead before senior Tommy McDonald returned an interception 55 yards for another score to give OU a 26-0 halftime lead. Harris finished his career at OU with a 25-0 record as the starting quarterback from 1954-56, helping Oklahoma to two national titles. McDonald, who was a two-time All-American at OU, was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1985. Yet one Hall of Fame coach will still have a large influence over a number of those who will be.
Contact Athletics Ticket Office at 800-456-4668 or the Sooner Club at 405-325-8000 for more information. The Arkansas and Texas Tech football programs hosted the quarterback on unofficial visits his sophomore year.
His oldest brother Rob played basketball, baseball and football, and Russ, another older brother, concentrated on baseball and football. Spangler said it seemed they moved roughly every three years.My dad always had me cutting down trees or mowing the yard or things like that.
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As a junior, he led Bridge Creek to a 78-34 second-round state playoffs win over Atoka by completing 20-of-27 pass attempts for 315 yards and five touchdowns. Spangler could practice with his new OU teammates during the 2012-13 season, but he couldn't play in games. Bennett has become quite familiar with Spangler's game, as the two frequently defend each other in practice and pick-up games.
That's the date the Sooners open the regular season against Alabama inside the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. Kruger thinks Spangler, despite being just a sophomore athletically, is a candidate to provide great assistance in that department this year and beyond. The record crowd came to South Bend, Ind., not only to watch their "Golden Boy" Paul Hornung, but also flocked to see the visiting Sooners, the defending national champions who were currently on a 34-game winning streak. After running one play, OU actually kicked the ball back to Notre Dame, pinning the Irish back in their own territory. Steve Jennings, a sophomore end for the Sooners, burst through the line and blocked the kick, resulting in OU taking over at the Irish 3-yard line. A Consensus All-American in 1957, Thomas joined the College Football Hall of Fame as a 2011 inductee.
After he decided to focus on basketball midway through his high school career, he received scholarship offers to play on the hardwood by several Division I schools, including Colorado, Creighton, Gonzaga, TCU and Tulsa. Spangler's hard work translated to success on the high school basketball court -- he led Bridge Creek to the Class 4A state title game his senior year -- but also on the gridiron. Spangler estimates he threw for more than 400 yards at least 10 times in his high school career. By that time it will have been more than a year and a half since he played in a college basketball game. Two plays later, senior Jay O'Neal rushed in for a one-yard touchdown, giving Oklahoma a 13-0 lead. Along the way, he missed five games due to a hand injury that required the insertion of pins to heal broken bones in his pinky finger and knuckle. I think it’s important that they play well in this game prior to re-starting their Big 12 schedule again.
The Sooner football program has undergone a number of changes in the offseason on both offense and defense, with the goal of improving performance on both sides of the ball.
You know, when you look at Notre Dame, they made it to the national championship and I really thought that the Oklahoma game was a catalyst a year ago.
New offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley is going to have the Sooners throwing the ball much more this season in an up-tempo Air Raid attack mode similar to the offensive style at Texas Tech. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports One week into August training camp, the Sooners have not named a starting quarterback for the coming season. That position, of course, will be key for Oklahoma to be successful in executing Riley’s new pass-heavy offense. The OU receivers are going to have to be able to catch the ball, which they didn’t do all that good a job of last season.
1-rated receiver coming out of the junior-college ranks last season, should greatly help alleviate the Sooners’ bumbling-hands problem securing passes in 2014, especially late in the year.
Sophomores Michiah Quick, Jordan Smallwood and Jeffrey Mead all have strong upsides and looked good this spring.
It’s safe to say there are going to be fewer catches by a wider array of receivers, and that will be a plus. With greater offensive balance and plenty of playmakers on that side of the ball, the Sooners should show improvement on offense in the coming season and not have big issues moving the ball and putting points on the board.

As different and better the offense is expected to be in 2015, however, the bigger advancement for Sooner football, year over year, just may be on defense. The Sooners are probably going to play a lot more four-man defensive fronts this season, but the real strength of the defense will be at the second level, where Eric Striker, Dominique Alexander and Frank Shannon will man the linebacker posts. If Shannon is able to come back after a year off from a suspension and play up to the same capability he showed in 2013, this group arguably is the best linebacker corps in the Big 12, and possibly in the entire country. The defensive secondary was a major problem for the Sooners a year ago, yielding far too many passing yards and getting burned time and time again on deep routes. Outside of cornerback Zack Sanchez, an All-Big 12 first-teamer, the OU secondary was extremely lean on experience and suffered from bouts of untimely miscommunication. Safety Steven Parker should be much improved after a lot of in-game learning his 2014 freshman season.
Sophomore Jordan Thomas will likely start opposite Sanchez at the other cornerback position. That assignment now belongs to Kerry Cooks, who has joined the Sooner coaching staff after spending the past five seasons in the same capacity at Notre Dame. In addition, Mike Stoops will move to the press box next season to call defensive plays instead of operating from the sidelines. In both its national championship year in 2000 and again in 2006, OU was at or right at the top of the Big 12 in scoring defense and total defense. They had five more giveaways a year ago than takeaways, which is uncharacteristic of the better OU defensive efforts in the Stoops era. All things considered, the marginal improvement should be better on the defensive side of the ball this coming season, if for no other reason than that the opportunity for defensive improvement is much greater than on offense, and this is an area of very high personal interest and expertise to the Stoops brothers. The Sooners lost the only game they played in their inaugural season, 34-0 to the Oklahoma City town team. Out of 1,227 games in OU football history, the Sooners have come out on top 70 percent of the time (856 total wins), the fifth best winning percentage all-time in college football. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports This was the game that ended the longest winning streak in college football (even to this day) at 47 games. The Sooners had beaten the Fighting Irish 40-0 in South Bend just the year before and were the heavy favorites at home to make Notre Dame their 48th straight football victim. The game remained scoreless entering the fourth quarter, and by that time the OU fans were beginning to get a little nervous about how things were going to turn out. Notre Dame ground out a 20-play, 80-yard drive that ended with Dick Lynch taking a pitch from quarterback Bob Williams and taking it the final few yards for a touchdown . That turned out to be the lone score in the game as the Fighting Irish stunned the Sooner Nation by shutting out their beloved Crimson and Cream and ruining what would have been a fourth straight undefeated season. The Sooners drew first blood early in the opening quarter on a two-yard touchdown run by tailback Ron Shotts, giving OU a quick 7-0 lead.
The Longhorns cut the Sooner lead in half with a 35-yard field goal by Bob Layne in the third quarter. Late in the third, Texas mounted a 10-play, 84-yard scoring drive, capped off by a 7-yard touchdown run by quarterback Bill Bradley in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter. The Longhorns held on to beat the Sooners 9-7, giving Texas its ninth victory in the previous 10 games against Oklahoma. Although it was not that apparent at the time, this loss would be the only one the Sooners would incur in the 1967 season.
Otherwise Oklahoma might have been in contention for its fourth national title and finished the season undefeated. November 8, 1975 – Kansas 23, Oklahoma 3 The 1975 Oklahoma Sooners won a second straight national championship with an 11-1 record. That one loss was to a Kansas team quarterbacked by Nolan Cromwell, who ran a Sooner-like option attack that Oklahoma was unable to curtail when the two teams squared off that afternoon at OU. Barry Switzer’s team turned the ball over eight times in the game, and the Jayhawks made the Sooners pay dearly for those miscues. 2-ranked Sooners 16-0 in the second half for a 23-3 victory and seemingly curtailing OU’s national championship hopes. 1 in the preseason polls and the Sooners remained in the top spot after reeling  off 12 consecutive regular-season wins.
Now they were set to take on the champions of the Big 12’s North Division, the Kansas State Wildcats, in the Big 12 Championship game.
The Sooners had beaten Bill Snyder’s K-State team twice in the 2000 season to capture its first Big 12 championship. Kansas State came into the conference championship game with a 10-3 overall record (6-2 in the conference) and ranked 13th in the country. The Wildcats were a high-scoring team led by the nation’s rushing leader, Darren Sproles. Even then, Oklahoma, led by Heisman Trophy-winner Jason White at quarterback were a big favorite to take the conference crown that season and play for the BCS national championship as the wire-to-wire top-ranked team. There was even talk that season that this could be the greatest Oklahoma football team ever. To the surprise of everyone at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City that chilly December evening and those viewing the proceedings on national TV, that would be OU’s only points of the night.
Kansas State took complete control of the game from there, reeling off 35 unanswered points behind a sensational performance by Sproles, who burned the Sooner defense for 235 yards rushing and 88 more on three pass receptions.
Despite the stunning blowout loss, Oklahoma fell just one spot in the final BCS rankings, from No. 2, and, amid much controversy, still played for the 2003 national championship, losing to LSU. For the Sooners, it was a total embarrassment and painful to watch; one of the biggest you-know-what kickings in the long history of Oklahoma football and the worst under Bob Stoops. The Sooners struck first, marching 92 yards on their opening possession to take a 7-0 lead.
If it weren’t for nine meaningless points tacked on very late in the game, the result would have been much worse than the 55-19 final score.
Oklahoma has only made it back to the national title game once since then – in the 2008 season, paired up against Florida and Tim Tebow.

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