NORMAN — Days before the Red River Rivalry showdown with Texas, Oklahoma’s offense added another big-time playmaker when the NCAA ruled Fresno State transfer Jalen Saunders immediately eligible Wednesday.
Sooners coach Bob Stoops was told about Saunders’ eligibility in the middle of Wednesday’s practice, and quickly switched the junior wide receiver — who was an All-WAC selection last season — from scout-team duty to working with the first- and second-team offenses.
“He’s played a lot of football and played it well,” Stoops said. “We’re hopeful that he will be able to play (on Saturday). He’s quick, got a great sense of space and the ability to get open.”
Saunders led Fresno State in receiving last season as a sophomore with 50 catches, 1,065 yards and 12 touchdowns. He chose to leave Fresno after coach Pat Hill was fired and replaced by Tim DeRuyter.
Saunders shined during Oklahoma’s preseason workouts, and coaches were hopeful that his waiver request for immediate eligibility would be approved before the season opener at UTEP.
But Saunders didn’t make the trip to El Paso, Texas, and it was presumed that he’d redshirt and have two seasons of eligibility at OU, beginning in 2013.
“There’s been a lot of information exchanged back and forth so finally they got it all cleared and cleared up,” Stoops said.