NORMAN — The NCAA granted D.J. Ward something he hasn't had since August: Eligibility.
The freshman defensive end, who had to sit out his senior season of high school following an OSSAA ruling, was cleared to participate in Oklahoma's last few spring practices, which include Saturday's spring game. Ward will wear jersey No. 87.
“I'm really excited for D.J.,” said OU coach Bob Stoops. “It's been a long process.”
Ward has to spend two days in just his helmet, Stoops said, but will be suited up for the spring game.
“He did fundamental work in learning the defense,” Stoops said. “Hopefully we can get him schooled up enough to get him a few snaps on Saturday.”
The former Lawton star transferred to Douglass just before his senior year of high school, then to Southmoore. The OSSAA approved his hardship waiver request for eligibility at Douglass, but wouldn't approve a second one.
Ward, an Oklahoman All-State selection after his junior season at Lawton, was one of Oklahoma's 24 signees in its class of 2013. He committed to the Sooners after attending the 2012 spring game.
Ward enrolled early at Oklahoma after graduating from Southmoore in December. The NCAA's clearing process took longer for Ward largely because of the transfers.
Asked if Ward, who has been working out on his own while awaiting NCAA clearance, will have to knock off any rust after so much time off, Stoops said, “I imagine there will be some. Although it comes to him pretty natural. But yeah, that's fair to say there will be some. It will take him a little while to get back into that kind of shape and get a feel for it.”