NORMAN — Casey Walker's mother has a message for Oklahoma football fans: Her son is “great” and will return to the Sooners this season.
Coach Bob Stoops announced last week that Walker, a senior defensive tackle, was dealing with a “personal issue” that prevented him from traveling to El Paso, Texas, for the Sooners' season opener at UTEP on Saturday.
“He is great,” Natalie Pipken emphatically told The Oklahoman in a brief telephone interview Tuesday evening.
“He is coming back. He'll be back on the team.”
Stoops has continued to say he is unsure of any time frame for Walker's return.
Pipken declined to offer any specifics, only unequivocally saying, “Soon,” when asked if she knew when Walker might rejoin the OU football team.
A fifth-year senior who redshirted in 2008 as a freshman, Walker has appeared in 22 games over the past three seasons, earning 12 starts. Last season, he played in 12 of the Sooners' 13 games — starting eight of them — and missed a midseason home loss to Texas Tech with a hand injury.
However, on the Wednesday before OU's Nov. 26 home contest against Iowa State last season, Walker was transported by ambulance to an area hospital after suffering an injury during practice when a teammate's hand caught him in the throat while his head was tilted back.
Walker struggled to breathe at first, but was released from the hospital soon after arriving and played in all three of OU's remaining games.