By Michael Kinney
In 2007 few outside of the Oklahoma football team knew of Sam Bradford. Even when he beat out six other candidates and was named the starting quarterback as a redshirt freshman, all that was known about him was that he was a local kid who could also play basketball.
However, three years later, on the same day Bradford publicly announced he was ending his career with the Sooners, his fans were sad to see him go.
"I was shocked," OU senior Peter Foley said. "I was really upset because I was looking forward to him coming back. He is a good kid. I have a couple of classes with him. He could have gone in the first round last year. I was disappointed to see that happen to him.
"When you saw Bradford play last year, he was amazing. He was awesome."
Bradford will undergo season-ending shoulder surgery Wednesday. The procedure will be done by Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala. Afterward, if all goes well, Bradford plans to enter the NFL draft. It's a decision some of his fans think is log overdue.
"I think it's sad for OU, but the kid has to do what he has to do," Alex Henderson said. "I think he would be stupid not to have the surgery and go pro. He needs to go to the next level, secure himself financially. Take care of himself, his family. I am totally behind his decision 100 percent."
Yet, there is one decison Bradford has made that does not garner a consensus. And that was whether he made the right choice in coming back this year.
After winning the 2008 Heisman Trophy and leading the Sooners to the BCS championship game, many thought it was a forgone conclusion that Bradford would leave campus life for the millions of dollars he was set to make as the top-pick in the 2009 NFL draft.
But Bradford decided to come back to Oklahoma and the opportunity to win the national championship that had eluded him. The rest is history as he sprained the AC joint in his right shoulder against BYU in the first game of the season, then again versus Texas. Not only were the Sooners titles hopes dashed, but so was the rest of his college career.
"I really wanted him to comeback," Andrew Bewees said. "I thought we would have a good chance at getting a title like he wanted to. It's just unfortunate how he landed on his shoulder. Just one of those football plays. I was glad that he came back."
While Sooner fans are not complaining that Bradford was back at the helm of Oklahoma offensive attack, they realize he may have given up a lot.
"I think it was an honorable thing to do," Foley said., "But if you are just looking at it from the NFL point of view, or making money in the future point of view, it probably hurt his stock value a little bit by coming back. But I don't ever think it can be a bad idea to come back for senior year."
Even after only playing a game and a half this year, Bradford will end his career at Oklahoma with a 24-7 record, 8,403 passing yards and 88 touchdown passes.
"I think he is outstanding," Henderson said. "Lately we have had several great quarterbacks. Josh will always be looked at highly. But Sam has to be one of the top two or three quarterbacks of this era."