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Former Sooners coach Barry Switzer remembers RB Mike Gaddis: 'He carried himself with pride'  1 Week ago

Source:   USA Today  

Former Oklahoma Sooners running back Mike Gaddis died Monday at the age of 50, Barry Switzer confirmed to USA TODAY Sports.

Switzer, the former Sooners head coach,  said he heard the news from Gaddis’ father-in-law. Switzer said he had run into Gaddis on occasion in Oklahoma City, where Gaddis had a business as an insurance agent with Farmers Insurance.

“First of all, he was a good man,” Switzer told USA TODAY Sports. “He was a good person. He was raised by good parents. When you go into the home, you know what you get when you come out of there. And when you’re a parent and you have a son who carried himself the way Mike did, you’re very fortunate to have someone be a part of your team like that. I remember his smile and his Jheri curl hair.”

Switzer called Gaddis, who played at Carl Albert High School in Midwest City, “the best running back I ever recruited out of the state of Oklahoma.”

In three seasons with the Sooners from 1988-91, Gaddis ran the ball 423 times for 2,622 yards and 27 touchdowns. He suffered a devastating knee injury against Texas in 1989 that cost him the entire 1990 season.

“I saw him make the cut in the open field against the grain to fake out a defensive back, and all of a sudden, he collapses,” Switzer said. “That was his career, right there, on that knee. That was so tragic for him. Not only did he lose the fact that he was probably going to lead the nation in rushing, he probably would’ve won the Heisman, too.”

Switzer, though, remembers Gaddis’ breakout performance most. It was in a 1988 game between the No. 8 Sooners and the No. 12 Oklahoma State Cowboys in Stillwater, Oklahoma, when Gaddis was a redshirt freshman.

“I laugh about this,” Switzer said. “We played Barry Sanders up there in ’88 in Oklahoma State. We won it 31-28, and everybody talks about what a great game Barry had. And he did have a great game. He rushed for 215 yards and two touchdowns, but everyone forgot that I had a freshman named Mike Gaddis who had 10 less carries and ran for (213) yards, had two scores himself, and scored the first time he touched it in the game.”

On Monday evening, Oklahoma Sooners football coach Lincoln Riley posted a tribute to Gaddis on his verified Twitter account.

According to the Norman Transcript, Gaddis had battled kidney issues for several years and had received a transplant from his brother, Brent, in 2005.

“People always say football builds character,” Switzer said. “I look at them and I say, ‘You’re full of (expletive). It don’t build character.’ There are a lot of great intangibles that come from playing the game. You learn mental toughness, physical toughness, discipline, you prepare to win, you sacrifice. You learn these intangibles that help you the rest of your life, but character is built by mothers or fathers, or a grandparent, or someone who teaches you core values in your formative years, a system of what is right and what is wrong.

“When you have a person like Mike Gaddis, who had that great core value system, that he was going to do the right thing whether anybody was watching or not, that doesn’t happen by happenstance. He carried himself with pride. You loved to be around Mike.”

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