In Honor of Black History Month: A Look Back at OSU’s First Black All-Americans

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In celebration of Black History Month, Oklahoma State looks back on the 1973 Cowboy football season that produced the program’s first black All-Americans: safety Alvin Brown and linebacker Cleveland Vann .

A two-time All-Big Eight performer, Cleveland Vann earned All-America honors as a linebacker in 1973 by the Football Writers Association of America, just two years after playing on the offensive side of the ball as a fullback.

In fact, heading into the 1972 season, Vann was actually the team‘s best returning runner before moving to center linebacker during spring training. The switch to defense was smart, as Vann racked up 241 tackles in his two seasons on the defensive side of the ball.

He led the team in tackles in his junior (122) and senior (117) seasons. Vann showed his skills at the 1973 Blue-Gray Game and the East-West Classic before being drafted in the fifth round by the Miami Dolphins.

Playing alongside Vann, Alvin Brown didn’t play high school football until his freshman year, but he covered high school ground in Oklahoma State at lightning speed in 1972 and 1973. His season 1973’s outstanding achievement earned him First-Team All-America Football recognition. News as well as honors from all conferences.

The Ravenna, Texas native had eight assists that year, tying a school record and leading the conference Big Eight. Brown also played in the 1973 Hula Bowl.

Vann and Brown helped pave the way for the future of the program, which now has a total of 34 black players who have played at least one All-America season.

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