Tinker Owens may be only 19 years old and weigh 168 pounds, but he does not scare easily. For one thing, he is the starting split end at Oklahoma, where football is very big league indeed. For another, he must perform in the enormous shadow of his older brother Steve, the former Sooner fullback who scored a record 56 touchdowns in his career, won the Heisman Trophy and is now with the Detroit Lions. Last year Tinker played an effective role in Oklahoma's undefeated season, catching several key touchdown passes, and now he is back in Norman, suffering through the agonies of two-a-day drills, preparing for what he is sure will be another unbeaten year.
Having a barefoot catch on the lawn or posing on the hood of his Ford Galaxie, Tinker looks like an urchin imitating his brother, the hero, but he owns a share of the family trophies and if he keeps making defensive backs look silly, he may someday have a street of his very own.
Although it kicks off with a barbecue, the three weeks of preseason practice is hardly a picnic. Wind sprints wrench the gut and cradle rocks strain tired muscles. Coach Barry Switzer, above it all, sees every grimace, hears every groan and encourages Tinker and his teammates to work still harder. When exercising stops and contact drills begin, Receiver Coach Donnie Duncan gets down to business (below). Come September the weather cools and the season starts. Before each game a superstitious pat on the doorhead wards off evil spirits, not to mention Cornhuskers and Cowboys.
Trailing Miami, Owens hauls in a 52-yard touchdown pass to give the Sooners the lead.