NORMAN — Two days after being “dinged” at practice, Oklahoma quarterback-turned-tight end Blake Bell will miss the rest of spring practice, sources close to the program confirmed.
The senior suffered a sprained knee during a goal-line drill Wednesday. The injury was first reported by SoonerScoop.com.
After practice, Sooner coach Bob Stoops said Bell had “so far checked out OK” after suffering the injury but after further evaluation, Bell will be held out for the remainder of spring practice. The injury will not require surgery.
The Sooners will host their spring game on April 12.
Bell started eight games at quarterback last season after initially losing out on the job to redshirt freshman Trevor Knight.
Bell helped the Sooners to a win at Notre Dame, throwing for 232 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He also came off the bench in the Bedlam game to throw a game-winning touchdown pass with 19 seconds left and help send the Sooners to the Sugar Bowl.
But Knight started in the Sugar Bowl and was superb, ending any chance of a quarterback controversy entering the season.
Instead of transferring, Bell decided to switch positions after the season, moving to tight end.
The day of his injury, tight ends coach Jay Boulware raved about the job Bell had done in making the transition.
“Blake’s done a great job,” Boulware said. “We’re very fortunate to have him there.”
While Bell’s blocking had come along, that wasn’t what was being asked of him.
The Sooners are trying to get the tight end more involved in their passing game for this season.
“Blake is a big body,” Knight said. “It’s fun to throw to a guy like that. We haven’t done that here since I’ve been here, with a big guy like that — especially down in the red zone. That’s fun too.”
After tight ends Brannon Green and Taylor McNamara combined for just one catch during the regular season last year, each had a catch in the bowl win over Alabama.
The Sooners are hoping Bell and McNamara can be pass-catching options from the spot this season.
“We don’t need blockers,” Boulware said. “We need guys who can run down the field and make plays on the ball and Blake can do that.
“He can do it very well.”
The transition has been a pretty smooth one.
“He’s self-motivated,” Boulware said. “He’s been busting his butt since the time we made the move, coming in here watching extra tape and learning the new position, watching our drill tapes and it’s amazing how far he’s come in such a small amount of time.”
Now the Sooners will have to adjust for at least the final week of spring practice, with McNamara and junior college transfer Isaac Ijalana figuring to be the biggest beneficiaries of the additional reps.
McNamara (6-foot-5, 240 pounds) started a game as a true freshman before an injury led to a medical redshirt. Last season he played in three games with the catch in the Sugar Bowl.
Ijalana (6-4, 248) is a sophomore who had eight catches for 80 yards last year at Pierce College in California.
Knight’s twin brother, Connor, is a sophomore tight end for the Sooners.
In 2011 and 2012, Bell replaced starting quarterback Landry Jones frequently in short-yardage and red-zone situations.
Over those two seasons, the “Belldozer” ran for 24 touchdowns. As a redshirt freshman, he was named the Insight Bowl Offensive Most Valuable Player after running for three touchdowns in a win over Iowa. He scored four touchdowns against Texas and his late touchdown helped send Bedlam to overtime as a sophomore.