Oklahoma football: Jalen Saunders says playing in Cotton Bowl 'a blessing'
After a Dec. 2 arrest, junior receiver Jalen Saunders spent nearly all of December unsure if he'd join his teammates when the Sooners meet Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl.
Videoview all videos
Dec 30Aggies freshman quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner...
Dec 30Johnny Manziel and the Aggies met the media on Sunday....
Photoview all 17 photos
NewsOK Related Articles
“Jalen is Jalen. Jalen has been preparing and getting ready to play just like all the other players. We expect him to play great Friday night.”
Saunders said despite the uncertainly surrounding his Cotton Bowl status, he practiced through December the same way he did all season.
“If I wasn't gonna play, I was gonna have to help out my teammates,” Saunders said. “And if I was playing, I was preparing myself and for the team. It was, I guess you could say, a win-win, in both situations. I was gonna help my team regardless.”
Facing Texas A&M's prolific offense — led by Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Johnny Manziel — the Sooners could find themselves in another offensive shootout. In two narrow, high-scoring victories near the regular season's end, Saunders' contributions were essential.
Nov. 17 in Morgantown, he caught seven passes for 123 yards, including a 76-yard touchdown. The next week, when Oklahoma edged Oklahoma State 51-48 in overtime, Saunders had 10 receptions, 162 yards and a touchdown. He also scored on an 81-yard punt return.
Stoops, who has typically issued one-game suspensions for past arrests, declined Sunday to talk much about Saunders' arrest and the decision to let him play, only saying “We had a statement issued. ... We've been pretty consistent with what we do, discipline-wise.”
Regardless, Saunders strongly emphasized that he's learned his lesson.
“I'm the type of person ... I'm not gonna make the same mistake twice,” Saunders said. “It's a learning experience. I'm over it. I'm past it.”
Sports Photo Galleriesview all
- 21543Oklahoma tornadoes: The 'Big Dog,' the little boy and the hug that triumphs over tragedy
- 10852Oklahoma tornadoes: Woman meets the military officer who shared the clothes off his back
- 8707Oklahoma tornadoes: Thunder reverses the role, takes a turn at cheering on the community
- 8666Finding Addyson – One family's struggle in the Moore tornado
- 8648Hobby Lobby argues case before federal judges
- 7837Blake Shelton's "Healing the Heartland" televised tornado benefit set for Wednesday at Chesapeake Energy Arena
- 7718Story behind the photo: Family members describe desperate search for one another after EF5 twister