Hanna, The Unlikely Hero

OU tight end James Hanna

Three weeks prior, head coach Bob Stoops dialed up a fake field goal pass that holder and third team quarterback John Nimmo lofted perfectly to tight end James Hanna, who dropped it in full stride near the end zone.

That drop would have given the Sooners a 24-19 lead early in the fourth quarter, and OU had all the momentum at the time, so it likely would have sealed the victory.

Not the case.

"I mean, you know, that was rough," Hanna said. "That was hard."

So, in a 40-38 thriller and less than three minutes remaining in Bedlam, who did the Sooners come back to?

That's right.

Instead of running the ball and forcing Oklahoma State to burn its final timeout, offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson called for play action, and Hanna did not disappoint this time when the ball came his way.

Quarterback Landry Jones tossed a perfect strike to the sprinting Hanna, who took it down the sideline 76 yards for the game clinching score.

"Well, Coach Wilson set it up pretty good with the play before," Hanna said. "And like the situation of the game, like you would assume we're probably going to run the ball. And the safeties came down low. Landry threw a great ball, and I just, you know, ran hard."

And he displayed some of his speed in the open field, something Stoops pointed out, along with also praising Wilson for the play call.

"You know, he catches the ball well and you saw what great speed he has to get behind everybody," Stoops said. "And I thought Kevin did a great job there expecting us to run trying to eat up clock, and, you know, we're in our power formation, and instead of blocking down and running it, those guys pop out, and James has got great speed to get past people."

Indeed, everyone saw he does, in fact, have that breakaway burst.

"I mean, I know I'm pretty fast but, you know, it was nice to be able to show some people," Hanna said.

Hanna, who admitted he was "hoping it was coming my way," had one thing in his mind when the ball was in the air.

"On that one, when I saw the ball I was like, ‘I'm about to score a touchdown,'" Hanna said.

So, given the landscape of his season, from the low of dropping the potential game-winner at Texas A&M to the high of putting Bedlam on ice with this huge touchdown reception, many would say he had it in his mind to redeem himself.

But Hanna said it wasn't necessarily about that.

"I don't know about redemption," Hanna said. "I mean, it is a redemption, but I don't really look at it like that."

Rather, Hanna said he views it as boosting his team in a key situation.

"It's exciting," Hanna said. "You know, I haven't really contributed that much my first two years, so it's nice to help the team out...Yeah, I mean, it's not about other people thinking I'm a good player, though. You know, I want to help my teammates. I want to help our team and do the best we can, and I'm going to play as hard as I can, so that's really what it's about."

And just as any team player would do, he credited others for helping to create the big play.

"Yeah, you know, I'm just like it takes a lot of guys to make a big play like that happen," Hanna said. "And, I mean, it's exciting that we--especially when it really counted--that we were able to do that."

So, though he dropped a crucial pass earlier in the season, Hanna caught one that was perhaps more important on his second big chance, satisfying both himself and Sooner Nation.

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