It’s easy to forget the Sooners had to beat Texas. As the No. 5 team in the country then, the Sooners couldn’t afford to lose the conference title game. They needed to avenge their only loss earlier in the season against No. 9 Texas, and it’s easy to forget that Texas team beat Georgia en route to a Sugar Bowl victory less than a month later.
It’s easy to forget the 2018 Big 12 title game was still in the balance with fewer than five minutes left to play in the third quarter.
It’s easy to forget wide receiver CeeDee Lamb fumbled the ball and Texas safety Brandon Jones recovered it with 1:28 left to play in the third quarter while OU held a slim 30-27 lead.
It’s easy to forget corner back Tre Brown came on a corner blitz called by an interim defensive coordinator to force a sack-safety out of quarterback Sam Ehlinger to extend OU’s lead to 32-27 with 8:27 left to play.
And it’s easy to forget Oklahoma was staring down third-and-10 from the Texas 18-yard line with two minutes left to play. Settling for a field goal would give OU an eight-point lead, but a touchdown would’ve put the game out of reach for the Longhorns.
Marquise Brown just wasn’t himself. Hurt even. Lamb had put the ball on the ground. And OU needed a play made to win its fourth consecutive league championship.
When Kyler Murray threw his pass to Grant Calcaterra, safety B.J. Foster had to know he was beat. When Murray threw that pass, he had to know Calcaterra was going to come down with it.
“It’s a route I’ve thrown a million times,” Murray later said.
Murray also said he knew he was going to Calcaterra when he saw the matchup, and the tight end used his entire body—all 6-foot-4, 233 pounds of it—to make a one-handed grab for his second touchdown that day and most important of his career.
Riley knew right away what Calcaterra had done.
“That catch will live on in Oklahoma history forever,” Riley said.
And he was right. That catch lives on in Longhorns history too. Texas coach Tom Herman caught sight of the replay six months later at AT&T Stadium on the videoboard at Big 12 Media Days and admitted it’s still difficult for him to watch that catch made.
And that’s how Big Calc caught a body point-blank in broad daylight. He catches another every time Gus Johnson tries to say his name.
On Thursday night, Calcaterra announced his medical retirement from football. He said a number of concussions had forced his hand.
“I’ve spent countless hours visiting with OU medical professionals and specialists around the country,” he said. “Ultimately, I came to the conclusion that it would be best for me to step away from the game.”
He hadn’t played a down for OU since Oct. 5 against Kansas in a year where he was expected to compete for All-America honors. He finished his career in Norman with 41 catches for 637 yards with nine touchdowns.
It’s easy to forget Grant Calcaterra was a blue chip tight end out of Santa Margarita Catholic, and one of the most-sought after tight ends in the country.
It’s easy to forget his dream was to play at OU. It’s easy to forget, Grant, most of your adult life is still way ahead of you. But, for the time being, please allow of us college football fans to simply say, thank you.
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RJ Young is the host of The RJ Young Show on The Sports Animal from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. CT weekdays. His book LET IT BANG was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2018. He was featured in Natural Light's 2019 Super Bowl commercial. He graduated with a master's in professional writing from the University of Oklahoma. He doesn't like it when his socks get wet.
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On Grant Calcaterras Retirement
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