The NCAA transfer portal is always open. With 10 transfers over the last two seasons — including five Division I transfers new to the Oklahoma roster in 2021 — OU has made a living off transfers in recent years. Every Tuesday this summer, SI Sooners examines Oklahoma's 10 best transfers of the last 20 years. (Josh Heupel and Torrance Marshall, class of ’99, are outside of that time frame.)
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No. 7: Big Phil, Big Load
Contrary to rumors at the time, when Phil Loadholt arrived at Oklahoma, he didn’t block out the sun.
But he did block just about everything else for the next two seasons.
Loadholt came to OU in 2007 as a two-time junior college All-American at Garden City (KS) College. His recruiting profile said he was 6-foot-9 and 360 pounds — the biggest Sooner in history.
But OU measured “Big Phil” (or “Big Load, whichever you prefer) at a modest 6-8, 350, and he stepped into the starting role at left tackle and became a dominant force.
READ MORE: Top 10 Transfers
Loadholt was a three-sport star at Fort Carson High School in Fountain, CO, where he played football (offense and defense) and basketball (low post) and participated in track and field (mostly throws).
In discus, Loadholt won a state championship. In basketball, he averaged 17 points, 11 rebounds and three blocked shots per game as a senior. And in football, he compiled 113 tackles and also mauled defenders on the offensive line.
He was a team captain, a two-time All-Stater and the Colorado Springs Area Athlete of the Year and originally committed to play at Colorado.
At Garden City, Loadholt was the Jayhawk Conference Lineman of the Year in 2006 and was lauded multiple times for his academic and civic excellence.
The No. 1 juco offensive lineman in the country, according to GridWire, Loadholt enrolled at OU at midterm and immediately got into the swing of things during spring practice for Bob Stoops and o-line coach James Patton.
The Sooners had an opening at left tackle after the graduation of Chris Messner, but most assumed that either Branndon Braxton or Trent Williams would inherit that spot in 2007. Braxton had started at right tackle in 2006 before suffering a broken leg, and Williams took over for him at midseason.
But when Loadholt got to OU, he won the starting job on the left side, and Williams beat out Braxton on the right side. With those two on the edge, Jon Cooper at center and Duke Robinson and Brandon Walker at guard, the Sooners in 2007 and 2008 embarked un an unprecedented run of offensive success, ranking fifth nationally at 42.3 points per game in 2007 and then setting an all-time NCAA record with 716 points — 51.1 per game — in 2008.
In 2007, Loadholt was named Honorable Mention All-American by Sports Illustrated and was second-team All-Big 12 by both coaches and media. He started all 14 games at left tackle and had the team’s highest run grade at 75 percent. That included a personal-best 15 knockdowns in a victory over Texas A&M.
In 2008, Loadholt was an SI first-team All-America, earned second-team honors from Sporting News and third-team by the Associated Press. Loadholt was also named first-team All-Big 12 by both coaches and media.
As an OU senior, Loadholt anchored an offensive line that allowed just 11 quarterback sacks in 14 games. That OU offense had a 4,000-yard passer (Heisman winner Sam Bradford), two 1,000-yard runners (Chris Brown and DeMarco Murray) and a 1,000-yard receiver (Juaquin Iglesias; tight end Jermaine Gresham had 950).
Loadholt was a second-round pick of the Minnesota Vikings in the 2009 NFL Draft (54th overall), where he started every game he played — all 89 during his six-year career — and earned a spot on the All-Rookie Team in 2009 and was named first-team All-Pro by Pro Football Focus in 2013. He spent the 2014 and 2015 seasons on injured reserve, then announced his retirement in 2016 having started three playoff games.
In his NFL career, according to Spotrac, Loadholt earned $24.2 million.