A member of the College Football Hall of Fame, Vessels was the first in a long line of star running backs at Oklahoma that would later include Billy Sims and Steve Owens, the school's other Heisman winners.
Vessels led Oklahoma in both rushing and receiving in 1950 as the Sooners finished first in both major polls. Two years later, Vessels finished second nationally with 1,072 yards and 108 points and won the Heisman Trophy.
He was a 1952 consensus All-American and set school records for rushing yards, scoring and all-purpose yards in a season.
Vessels had a brief professional career with the Baltimore Colts and in the Canadian Football League.