David Overstreet - Running Back - 1981-82 - University of Oklahoma
David Overstreet was
legend on the football field before he ever went to college. He was not
only a hero in his hometown of Big Sandy, he was a state hero. Deep in the
Lone Star State, Overstreet was the centerpiece of one of the most
powerful small high schools in Texas high school football history. He led
Big Sandy High School to 3 consecutive Class B state championships. Big
Sandy's teams were so dominant, they outscored the opposition 824-15 in
his senior year. One of Overstreet's high school teammates was quarterback
Lovie Smith, who is now the head coach of the Chicago Bears. Smith and
Overstreet was part of a tiny graduation class that included just 34
When Overstreet arrived at OU in 1976, he quickly became burried in a deep pool of talented running backs that included future NFL players Elvis Peacock, Kenny King and Heisman winner Billy Sims. Playing in Oklahoma's wishbone offense, Overstreet had to share running duties with other great backs. His statistics in college would never approach what he did in high school. But he was still very dangerous carrying the football. He rushed for 1,702 yards, averaging 5.8 yards per carry and scored 16 touchdowns in his college career. In one game he gained 258 yards on 18 carries against Colorado. During the Overstreet years, Oklahoma played in four consecutive Orange Bowls on New Years Night. In his final college
game, Overstreet scored a touchdown and helped the Sooners beat Florida State 18-17 in the 1981 Orange Bowl.
When his college career
was over, pro scouts tabbed Overstreet was one of the best running back
prospects in the country. The Miami Dolphins chose Overstreet in the first
first round of the 1981 NFL Draft with the 13th overall pick. He was
expected to be Miami's best breakaway speed back since the days of Mercury
Morris. But negotiations stalled and the Dolphins were not able to come to
a contract agreement with Overstreet. He decided to instead take his
talents to the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League. His 952 yards rushing as a rookie
led the East in rushing, but he also had trouble hanging on to the
ball, fumbling 16 times. In 1982, injuries limited Overstreet to just 190
yards rushing for the season.
After two years of exile
in Canada, Overstreet finally signed with the Dolphins in 1983. By then,
Miami already had a rookie sensation named Dan Marino and the offense
would revolve around Marino's right arm. Overstreet found himself
struggling to make the adjustment to the NFL. He spent most of the season
watching from the sidelines as Tony Nathan got the majority of the
carries. He finally showed signs of potential when he gained 179 yards in
the final two games of the season.
On the early morning of June 25, 1984, Overstreet was making the long journey from South Florida back to his hometown of Big Sandy, Texas. He was driving his Mercedes when he fell asleep at the wheel. The car spun out of control and crashed into a row of gas pumps at a service station near his hometown. The impact created a huge explosion and Overstreet was killed instantly. He left behind a wife and a 13-month old son--David Jr.
David Overstreet played only one season with the Miami Dolphins. He rushed for 392 yards and scored 3 touchdowns. His death not only stunned the Dolphin organization, it stunned the entire league. In 1984 Chicago Bears running back Walter Payton broke Jim Brown's then NFL career rushing record. After the game, Payton dedicated the record to the running backs who died young. "The motivating drive for me has been the athletes who have tried for the record and failed and for those who didn't have an opportunity such as the Overstreets (David), the Delaneys (Joe) and the Piccolos (Brian)." Overstreet is gone, but not forgotten.