NORMAN — Oklahoma’s autograph-hungry fans made it easy to identify the most sought-after table at Friday’s Meet the Sooners Day.
No Sooners were seated to sign autographs and take photos until 1 p.m. Hundreds of children, ages 14 and under, and their parents arrived hours early, however, to grab a spot in line to meet OU’s quarterbacks and running backs.
The autograph table inside OU’s home stadium was set up near Section 33, which overlooks Owen Field’s south 10-yard line.
The line extended around one corner of the stadium to Section 22 near the north end zone.
The line never seemed short on young OU fans waiting to meet Kyler Murray’s aspiring successors and running backs.
Many brought replica OU helmets, jerseys and footballs for autograph purposes. Others turned to hats, shirts and posters.
Jalen Hurts can relate.
The OU graduate transfer, whose presence sparked the line’s traffic, was in the same boat as a young football fan.
“I remember going to the University of Houston, getting a poster signed by those guys up there,” said Hurts, who grew up in Channelview, Texas. “I actually just saw that poster and it kind of made me think how I’m in their shoes now.”
Hurts, who departed Alabama this offseason, is competing with Tanner Mordecai and Spencer Rattler for the right to start for OU against Houston on Sept. 1.
He still relishes his new position as a role model and has grown used to the popularity that comes with playing quarterback at a high-profile program.
“It’s definitely something I cherish, thinking about how when I was a kid having guys that were college figures, it’s an experience that kids love,” Hurts said before Friday’s autograph session. “So, I’m looking forward to it and making it a memory for whoever is there.”
Another OU player also remembers building his autograph collection when he was younger.
Junior receiver CeeDee Lamb didn’t have any must-have autographs in mind. He just wanted as many as he could get as a future Sooner raised in Richmond, Texas.
“I've been one of those kids before,” Lamb said, “and just trying to get a guy that I look up to, try to get his autograph and get anything signed that I possibly could; my shirt, my hat, anything.”
Hurts and Lamb, as well as the rest of OU’s football team, weathered the August heat to make the same reality for countless children Friday.
It’s all worth it for them as they’ve risen to stardom for one of college football’s top programs.
“For me to switch roles and be the older guy now that the kids go to is a blessing,” Lamb said. “Honestly, I try to take it all in and do as much as I can to help and try to be there as much as I possibly can.”