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David Overstreet’s Legacy Will Forever Be Remembered in Big Sandy

David Overstreet (left) played at the University of Oklahoma after a legendary career at Big Sandy High School. (Photo Courtesy The Oklahoman)

Perhaps no other high school player to ever come through East Texas left behind as big of a “What if?” than David Overstreet, the legendary running back out of tiny Big Sandy, Texas.

The “What if” isn’t a result of an athlete who performed well in high school, only to not make the grades to play in college, or make poor off-the-field decisions that cost a career.

For Overstreet, it was different. When he died that night on June 25, 1984, only three months shy of his 26th birthday, he only left behind a “What if” for what he could have accomplished in the NFL.

Everything else before that? He was just what we’re featuring: a legend.

Where He Came From

David Overstreet, born in 1958 in Big Sandy, was born to play football. When he got to high school, he established himself as one of the state’s premier players, even if it was at a tiny Class B school just north of Tyler. He was 5-11, 180 pounds — not a big back by today’s standards, but he had the speed. Oh, did he have speed.

One of Overstreet’s teammates was now-Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith. He said it best about Overstreet:

Every time he touched the ball, the odds were that he would score. Not that he might score. You were surprised when he didn’t.”

Overstreet finished his high school career at Big Sandy with 7,582 career rushing yards. When he graduated in 1976, he trailed only fellow East Texan Billy Sims and the legendary Kenneth Hall in career rushing yards. Almost 40 years later, he is still 14th on the all-time list in Texas high school history. He also finished with 102 career touchdowns.

And, of course, there are the state championships. Already having a great defense, Big Sandy leaned on Overstreet to put out one of the best offenses in national high school football history.

The Wildcats won three straight Class B state titles from 1973-75. The 1975 team, arguably the most dominant in the state’s history, outscored its opponents 824-15, the 824 points then a national record. They scored 114 rushing touchdowns that year, 52 courtesy of Mr. Overstreet.

After High School

Overstreet was a member of a vaunted Oklahoma Sooners backfield. He never got the ball as much as you would see these days out of a premier back, but even in the Wishbone offense, he scored 13 career touchdowns and averaged 7.1 yards per carry his senior year. He ran for 258 yards on 18 carries in a game against Colorado.

He was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in 1981 but played in the CFL after contract disputes. He returned to the Dolphins in 1983 and averaged a solid 4.6 yards per carry in 14 games.

His future was bright, until June 25, 1984. Overstreet fell asleep while driving home to Big Sandy in the offseason and ran into gas pumps at a service station, causing his car to explode, ending an incredibly promising career in the NFL.

Many speculate Overstreet could have been the running back Dan Marino always needed with the Dolphins.

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