NORMAN — Oklahoma could be thin at inside linebacker if Frank Shannon is suspended for the upcoming season — or if he’s on the team but held out of games while the process plays out.
Shannon, the Sooners’ leading tackler last season, is fighting the findings of a Title IX investigation into an alleged sexual assault that resulted in a one-year suspension.
Shannon was suspended June 18 and filed an appeal in district court six days later and was granted a stay, allowing him to stay enrolled in the school and to continue working out with the team.
The university Monday asked the Oklahoma State Supreme Court to prohibit a Cleveland County district judge from enforcing the order allowing Shannon to remain at the school and part of the football team.
The player most impacted if Shannon isn’t able to play this season is Jordan Evans.
Evans, a former Norman North star and son of former Sooners lineman Scott Evans, earned immediate playing time as a true freshman last season.
He had 12 tackles in eight games before his season ended after being injured on a kickoff against Baylor late in the season.
Most of those tackles came in the Texas Tech game on Oct. 26 when Evans had eight tackles filling in for a limited Shannon.
Dominique Alexander, who took over as a starter early in the season when Corey Nelson went down with an injury, said the benefits gained from that Texas Tech game will help Evans this season.
“After that Texas Tech game, he came back rolling at practice and everything,” Alexander said. “He’s got a lot of confidence.”
With Shannon out, Evans was one of the stars of the spring game, making three tackles — one for a loss — and breaking up a pass. His big hit on K.J. Young forced an interception.
“I haven’t even thought like that,” Evans said in the spring when asked about the possibility of becoming the starter in Shannon’s absence.
But, he said, it’s important to be ready when a chance comes.
“I might have more impact this year so I know I need to be more serious and take it more on myself to make more plays and help out my team,” Evans said.
Evans has gained size since last season, bulking up to 223 pounds.
After Evans, though, things would get awfully thin at his inside linebacker spot.
The likely backups there would be either freshman Tay Evans or senior Aaron Franklin, who had six tackles last season and has just 31 in his three seasons at Norman.
Alexander was high on Tay Evans last week.
“He’s real athletic,” Alexander said. “He can play. He’s fast and he gets it.”
His size (6-foot-2, 221 pounds) is comparable to Jordan Evans.
Another possibility could be to move junior college transfer Devante Bond inside.
Bond is currently working at “jack” linebacker with Geneo Grissom.
OU linebacker coach Tim Kish said last month that Bond would be used “a lot of different ways.”