In Memoriam: Oklahoma Football Legend J.D. Roberts

May 27, 2021 Off By Oha

The 1953 All-American and Outland Trophy winner died Monday in Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma legend J.D. Roberts, a 1953 All-American and a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, died Monday in Oklahoma City. He was 88.

The news was announced Thursday by the National Football Foundation.

Roberts, from Dallas, was a standout two-way player for some of Bud Wilkinson’s best teams from 1951-53.

J.D. Roberts

J.D. Roberts

He won the Outland Trophy in 1953 as the nation’s top college lineman and was voted consensus All-America. He played offensive line in 1951-52 and blocked for ’52 Heisman Trophy winner Billy Vessels, then became a two-way player in 1953, per the NFF.

Roberts was also named Lineman of the Year by the Associated Press, United Press International and other outlets.

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Roberts was born in Oklahoma City but moved to Dallas at the age of 6. He sold game programs at the Cotton Bowl and became a high school standout at Jesuit College Prep in Dallas. Recruited to OU by Bud Wilkinson, Roberts in 1953 finished eighth in the Heisman Trophy voting and won the Outland. As a three-year starter, Roberts helped lead OU teams that went 17-0-1 in Big Seven Conference play and won three league titles.

After graduating with a degree in history, Roberts was a 17th-round draft pick of the Green Bay Packers in the 1954 NFL Draft, but he never played in the league. He joined the U.S. Marine Corps and served as a second lieutenant during the Korean War before returning to football as a coach.

Roberts coached at the University of Denver, the University of Houston, the U.S. Naval Academy, Auburn and at his alma mater before joining the inaugural coaching staff of the New Orleans Saints in 1967. Roberts left but came back in 1970 as the Saints interim head coach and spent the next two seasons at the New Orleans helm.

Roberts finally left the game and became a successful businessman in the energy sector in Oklahoma City.

The NFF reports that a visitation will be held Friday at Memorial Park Funeral Home in Oklahoma City.