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Billy Vessels


William Dale Vessels

Inducted 1974

Date of Birth



Cleveland, OK


University of Oklahoma (1950-1952)


Sophomore Billy Vessels was a new-found force in Oklahoma's backfield as OU was set to play Texas. On this day he scored two touchdowns, the last with four minutes to play, to lead Oklahoma to a 14-13 victory. Six weeks later, he rushed for 208 yards and three touchdowns as the Sooners outlasted Nebraska, 49-35, a game that clinched the National Championship for Oklahoma. The victory over Texas proved to be equally important, for it was the only game Texas lost. Oklahoma finished first and Texas second in the final UP poll. It was the start of Vessels' brilliant career. He would receive consensus All-America laurels in 1952, and became Oklahoma's first Heisman Trophy winner following his senior year. His career marks included 35 touchdowns and 210 points and 2085 yards rushing. He had 1,072 yards rushing in 1952. The Sooners posted an 8-1-1 record that year, the only loss a 27-21 decision to powerful Notre Dame when Vessels scored all three of his club's touchdowns. Following graduation, Billy played a year of Canadian pro ball and another season with the Baltimore Colts. Injuries cut short his playing career. He moved to Florida, was involved in thoroughbred racing, and served on the Florida State Racing Commission. In 1984, he was elected president of the National Association of Racing Commissioners.


Height 6'0

Weight 185

Career Highlights

  • 1952 All-Conference
  • 1952 Consensus All-America
  • 1952 Heisman Trophy Winner
  • 1952 Led nation in all-purpose yards
  • 1950 All-Conference
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