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August 6, 2012

Notes: Stoops on WRs, position changes, return men

The following is commentary by me, SoonerScoop.com Publisher Carey Murdock. If you have a clever name for this 'inside look' column involving C-Murder, Stoops Pt. 3, or something else I take abuse for on the Crimson Corner, I'll give you a free month of scoop and use it from now on.

It's been a furious week for Oklahoma football. Ever since the news came down Courtney Gardner would not qualify for fall enrollment at Oklahoma, fans have been scrambling for answers to the shots of news coming from every angle.

Saturday's media day in Norman got everyone a little bit closer to the answers we've been seeking since all this news started to break.

One thing putting parts of the suspended receiver saga behind us was Bob Stoops' announcement Kameel Jackson would not rejoin the team. His career is finished at OU. In classic Stoops fashion he told reporters, "You might want to tweet that too. I don't know."

Ahmed Kabba, you have company.

In respect to Trey Franks, Jaz Reynolds and Quentin Hayes, Stoops hinted at some things we've heard through the grapevine. These appear to be partially related to academic misconduct issues.

That is purely speculation on our part, but Stoops raised some interesting questions about why things seem so convoluted in regards to their return. It is odd that Stoops allows players back to practice, but suspends them from games.

"First it's the athletic department's determination in this case," explained Stoops. "It's an (athletics) department matter and procedure. First, it's the athletic director's call and then of course, he's going to confer with me depending on what I feel. Meaning, do I even want to consider it.

"This is what they've done to be re-instated and do you even want to consider it? And to me, it's how it will affect the team positively and negatively and what I feel their opportunity should be from here. But again, it begins with the athletic director."

You can take that one of two ways.

Stoops was either trying to deflect the criticism he would receive for allowing players like Reynolds and Franks, who have been suspended on multiple occasions, back on the team.

Or, Stoops was trying to put to bed any rumors these were serious offenses such as drug problems.

I'm not sure which way to lean. It doesn't seem Stoops had any issue kicking Jackson off the team. He basically told him to not let the door hit him on the way out.

So I have a hard time buying into the theory Stoops is selling out his integrity to keep potential playmakers on the roster. Jackson was a starter by the end of the season after all - ahead of Franks.

Bob is going to take some criticism from people outside the program, and maybe even from some columnists inside his borders. I think as long as you mention Jackson's situation alongside Reynolds and Franks, that criticism has a chance of coming off as fair.

It's also interesting to note a few position changes happening. Some are more curious than others.

Geneo Grissom's switch to tight end has always been explained as something the staff is allowing him to do after his request to make the move.

Either Stoops isn't real fond of the move, or he only wants guys going from offense to defense.

"Geneo," Stoops paused. "Yeah, he's done all right at tight end, but he's doing all right there right now."

It was almost like that 'but' was meant to be followed up by something else. Stoops has had two chances to talk about Grissom's move. He was asked about it in Dallas during Big 12 Media Days and he mentioned that he thinks he'll make an impact in the future, but he mentioned it could still be on the defensive side of the ball.

Did Stoops really want to say, "but I don't know if he'll stay there?"

Danzel Williams is another curious move for me. Although I loved his little brother as a linebacker at OU camp a couple of years ago. He was just so small.

"Danzel we're looking at, at the safety position," said Stoops. "He has a chance. You'd be amazed at how you move kids around. Sometimes, all of a sudden, something looks really good."

I could see Danzel being a safety because I've seen a Williams in person looking like a talented defender. OU's last talented small defensive back was Marcus Trice. He played some early in his career and then there was something called snitch-gate and he was gone soon after.

Bob seemed like a guy underneath the spell of truth serum Saturday. Maybe he's being more honest and open with himself and what's been going on in his program since Mike came back.

I sure do get a lot of reports from people who saw Bob and Mike out at restaurants over on Ed Noble since he's been back. Mike's obviously rubbing off on Bob a little bit.

Once I got home, I realized I should have thrown out some questions about kickoff coverage since he seemed to be so honest about huddling up on offense and how the no-huddle might have hurt their defense lately.

You know it. I know it. The other fans know it. Kenny Stills just doesn't look like a quick twitch guy that has the type of explosion needed to return punts. Roy Finch has that, but he couldn't even get underneath a punt to catch it during the spring game as the wind was blowing fairly hard.

With Justin Brown coming to town, it would appear the Sooners have someone who can boost the punt return game.

But maybe there's a youngster who will be better than any candidate the Sooners have, or will have, on campus.

It was interesting Stoops immediately threw Sterling Shepard into the mix as a return man Saturday.

Heck, Derrick Shepard was a great punt returner. His son is a great punt returner. I think Stoops knows even though he played against some lesser competition at Heritage Hall, he knows he has the gene.

"Sterling, who also looks great out there, was an excellent return guy too. All of those guys have done it some," said Stoops when asked about the potential of his young receivers. "We'll look at them all. The whole thing with the young guys is who can be reliable to hold on to it."

Strangest question with most condescending answer on Saturday? It was this one: With Ben and Landry having such a close relationship, are you worried about coming in and following that up as the new center?

The question was asked of Gabe Ikard, obviously. Ikard gave the best answer of the day.

"No," answered Ikard. "I wasn't in the wedding but I was there."



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