Nine former Sooners will play in NFL title games Sunday


Photo by Brianna Brown, Gaylord News.

PHILADELPHIA – The University of Oklahoma will have more former players than any other NCAA program in the NFL’s Conference Championship games on Sunday.

The National Football Conference (NFC) and American Football Conference (AFC) Championship Games will have nine Sooner alumni on the gridiron.

The NFC championship game is scheduled for a 2 p.m. kickoff and is headlined by former Oklahoma Heisman finalist Jalen Hurts as he leads the No. 1 seed Philadelphia Eagles versus the No. 2 seed San Francisco 49ers. The now-MVP-finalist found out during his Wednesday press conference that he was named a finalist for the Most Valuable Player award.

“I didn’t know. I put the work in, it’s a cool honor. I don’t have much to say about it, I’m at a loss of words to be honest,” Hurts said.

He isn’t the only Sooner playing in the NFC title game. San Francisco tackle Trent Williams and Philadelphia tackle Lane Johnson were teammates at OU during the 2009 season. Both former Sooners were selected fourth overall in their respective  NFL drafts and also named to the 2022-2023 NFL All-Pro Team.

Hurts and San Francisco’s rookie quarterback Brock Purdy and are not unfamiliar with what the other can do. In 2019, Hurts and the No.7 Sooners beat the Purdy-led Iowa State Cyclones 42-41. Hurts and Purdy combined for over 675 total yards along with 11 total touchdowns.

“You know obviously two different teams, two different times,” Hurts said. “I remember getting out early and then had like five touchdowns in the first half. I think it was like 35-14 at halftime or something like that and then they ended up coming back.”

“It was a good game, I’m glad we won,” Hurts said.

In the AFC title game, the No. 1 seed Kansas City Chiefs go up against the No. 3 seed, Cincinnati Bengals, on GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium.

Former Oklahoma running backs Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine make up Cincinnati’s running back room. At Oklahoma, Perine set the NCAA record for most rushing yards in a single-game at 427 in November 2014 versus Kansas.  Mixon and Perine were both chosen in the 2017 NFL draft and eventually became teammates again in Cincinnati in 2019.

Kansas City has four former Sooners: offensive linemen Creed Humphrey and Orlando “Zeus” Brown, long snapper James Winchester and tight end Blake Bell.

Bengals Head Coach Zac Taylor and San Francisco tight end George Kittle have ties to Norman as they both graduated from Norman High School.

Oklahoma’s ties run deep in Sunday’s conference championship games, but it’s not the only state with bragging rights.

The University of Michigan has the second-most players competing this weekend with seven. Among the seven is former Wolverine and now Super Bowl champion Brandon Graham. Graham made a huge impact on Super Bowl LII, where the Eagles beat the Patriots. Graham had a drive-killing sack on Tom Brady that resulted in a turnover-on-downs with just over two minutes left.

The Philadelphia and San Francisco game kicks off at 2 p.m. and the Kansas City and Cincinnati game follows right after, with the winners meeting in Super Bowl LVII in Arizona.


Gaylord News is a reporting project of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication. For additional stories by Gaylord News go to