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February 11, 2006

Billy Pricer

One of the best football players turned out by the skill and wisdom of the late Coach Harold (Hump) Daniels at Perry High School was a young man named Billy Pricer. Unfortunately, for me, he came along at a time when I was not covering sports for this newspaper, although I did see many wrestling matches, basketball and football games during that time.

We were winning in all of them, by the way, and that made it easier to get good stories about them from fans, parents and other devotees of the activity. Billy was good, a natural born athlete. He graduated from PHS and was recruited by the late Bud Wilkinson at OU, which was just beginning to acquire some of the indomitable spirit we now associate with the Sooner teams. Bud wanted Billy as a blocking back, place kicker and a ball carrier. Actually, Billy could have played any position, anywhere. He also was sought by the OU wrestling coach, Port Robertson, as a heavyweight wrestler, and he excelled in all those roles. Wrestling had to be dropped from his list of vocations, however, because of an injury, but he was a mighty good football player for the Sooners. He was later drafted by the world champion Baltimore Colts for the same skills running back, place kicker and blocking back—in the days of Johnny Unitas, Alan (The Horse) Ameche, and other worthies. An unfortunate injury terminated Billy's gridiron career much too soon.

But Billy, a quarterback at Perry High School, was as good as the best of that fabulous era. Wilkinson openly called him the best blocking back of his career, and that is saying something. One night, when we had Bud as a speaker at the Perry Junior High cafeteria, he told how many championships OU had won because of Billy's solid downfield blocking. It was an amazing sidelight.

Anyway, Billy Pricer could hold his head high as one of the makers of Mr. Wilkinson's glittering career. For those of us who still remember that time, such plaudits do not come easily. Billy Pricer was an elite among the elitists. Death took him from our midst much too soon.