NORMAN — Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops announced Tuesday what many have long expected: sophomore Blake Bell is officially Landry Jones’ backup at quarterback.
Bell, who pummeled his way into the endzone 13 times — and into fans’ hearts — over the Sooners’ final six games of the 2011 season, beat out junior Drew Allen for the spot.
Bell’s role became especially vital after Ryan Broyles’ season-ending ACL tear in the fifth-to-last game; after that, Bell rushed for 11 of Oklahoma’s 14 touchdowns it scored the rest of the season.
“He’ll still continue to battle,” Stoops said of Allen, last year’s backup.
“He’s had a great attitude and continues to work really hard. We’ll just take it from there as we go through the year.”
D-ENDS NELSON, LINDLEY OUT WITH INJURIES
Defensive end Chaz Nelson, a junior who transferred to Oklahoma from Garden City Community College, is out at least six weeks with an MCL injury, and converted linebacker P.L. Lindley has a high-ankle sprain, position coach Bobby Jack Wright said after practice Tuesday.
The defensive end position suddenly seems a little more thin than it once did, after David King‘s move inside to tackle and the news of these two injuries. But Wright also said true freshmen Charles Tapper and Michael Onuoha will not redshirt.
NO NEWS ON SAUNDERS
Stoops said receiver Jalen Saunders, who transferred in from Fresno State, still has not heard back from the NCAA on his waiver request, which, if granted, would allow him to play immediately rather than sit out a year.
Saunders (5-foot-9, 160 pounds) has impressed coaches in practices so far and, if he is allowed to play, would probably be a mainstay in the receiver rotation along with Justin Brown, Trey Metoyer, Kenny Stills, Sterling Shepard and Lacoltan Bester.
Saunders led Fresno State in receiving last season with 50 catches, 1,065 yards and 12 touchdowns while earning All-Western Athletic Conference honors.
… OR JOHNSON
Stoops still hasn’t heard back on former Arizona defensive back Cortez Johnson’s waiver request, either.
“That hasn’t been decided totally either,” Stoops said. “I don’t know where that’s at either.”
Johnson was a true freshman at Arizona last year, when he recorded 16 tackles under then-Wildcats coach and now-Sooners defensive coordinator Mike Stoops.
After Stoops was fired midseason, Tim Kish took over in the interim. Kish is now OU’s linebackers coach.
STOOPS WON’T TALK BENNETT
Stoops was asked about redshirt freshman defensive back Bennett Okotcha, who was removed from the roster Tuesday. His Coppell (Texas) High School coach, Joe McBride, told The Oklahoman’s Stephanie Kuzydym that Okotcha would transfer to Texas-San Antonio.
“Let me talk about guys who are here,” Stoops said. “He hasn’t been here for a long time.”
… AND FRANKS NOW A DB, WITH BENNETT’S OLD NUMBER
Junior Trey Franks, who remains suspended indefinitely from games but is practicing, has been officially switched to safety, Stoops said, and, according to OU’s roster, he’s also changed jersey numbers from No. 2 to 24, which was previously Okotcha’s.
“He’s been doing it the last week,” Stoops said. “He looks good back there. Hopefully that’s something that keeps developing like it is. He’s a strong guy, has got great quickness.”
Franks was suspended indefinitely with Jaz Reynolds, Quentin Hayes and Kameel Jackson in May. Franks, along with Reynolds and Hayes, were reinstated for practices before fall camp began. Jackson was dismissed and transferred to Louisiana-Monroe.