Bradford has remained humble, focused

Published: Monday, January 5, 2009 at 9:01 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 5, 2009 at 9:01 p.m.

FORT LAUDERDALE It would have been easy to ask for the front seat.

Yet here was Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford, all 6-foot-4, 218 pounds of him, surrounded by luggage while crunched up in the hatchback of a Toyota Sequoia. Apparently, a Heisman Trophy doesn't get you dibs for extra leg room, even during a 30-minute drive from Miami Beach to Fort Lauderdale for a media obligation.

The story, told by Oklahoma offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson, reinforces that Bradford hasn't bought into any Heisman hype. In the weeks since Bradford has won the coveted award for the nation's best college player, he's kept a stealth-bomber profile while remaining humble.

"Sam has been the same since he left and since he's come back," Oklahoma receiver Manuel Johnson said. "No different. Same relaxed, boring, laid-back Sam."

In an era where Heisman Trophy winners immediately hit the rubber-chicken banquet circuit, Bradford has kept public appearances to a minimum.

"Once I got back to campus, got back to Norman (Okla.), it was back to normal," Bradford said. "I only had to do one media day but everyone else had to do one media day as well. They kept me away from everything."

Bradford said he gets stopped for autographs more frequently. Otherwise, things have remained the same for the quarterback who threw 48 touchdowns while leading Oklahoma to more than 60 points in each of its last five games.

"New York it was kind of like a whirlwind going place to place, but as soon as I got home from New York, got back to Norman, got back to my normal life nothing's really changed," Bradford said.

That life includes Saturday nights spent either studying or watching TV instead of going to parties. That's not to say Bradford doesn't have his quirks. He's worn the same socks for all of Oklahoma's previous 13 games.

"If you saw them they are not really socks anymore, they are kind of like thread everywhere," Bradford said.

Bradford also said he reads the Bible before every game, often turning the pages to the story of David vs. Goliath for inspiration.

"I can understand what he's going through because I went through the same thing when we won our first national championship (in 2000)," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. "You sit there thinking hey I'm the same guy, nothing has changed and it takes a while to get used to it.

"I think more than anything Sam's a really spiritual guy and he realizes, hey I've been blessed with this. He's going to use it the right way as opposed to looking at it as something that's a burden."

The award has been cumbersome to players in the recent past. Former Oklahoma quarterback Jason White, who won the award in 2003, was among several recent Heisman winners who struggled in their ensuing bowl games. Even Florida quarterback Tim Tebow wasn't sharp in the Capital One Bowl following his 2007 Heisman win, failing to lead Florida to a fourth-quarter go-ahead scoring drive in a 41-35 loss to Michigan.

Bradford said he's not dwelling on a potential Heisman jinx.

"I don't think you give that any thought because I think if you do give that thought, give time to that, than you kind of bring yourself down and you don't need to think about negative things," Bradford said. "I think I'm just going to prepare like a normal game."

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