NORMAN — Bob Stoops didn't say much Monday about the status of freshman defensive end D.J. Ward, but he didn't sound overly optimistic when addressing Ward's situation, either.
Ward hasn't practiced yet with the Sooners this fall as he's been suffering from a “spleen issue.”
Stoops said last week that Ward, his family and his doctors would have to make a decision about how to proceed.
Monday, Stoops said they had reached a decision.
“I'll announce that tomorrow or Wednesday,” he said.
It's not clear how serious Ward's condition is, though multiple sources said Ward was not at Saturday's scrimmage.
The loss of Ward for any length of time would be a blow to the depth of the defensive line that was already thin to begin with.
Chuka Ndulue is the only returning starter in the group and Ndulue is moving inside to tackle from defensive end.
Stoops did say that he was hopeful that junior college defensive tackle Quincy Russell had completed his academic work and that Russell would join the team when the school had the confirmation paperwork from his junior college.
“We're close,” Stoops said.
For Ward, things haven't been easy since he committed to the Sooners in April 2012.
Ward committed following a dominating junior season in Lawton, where he had 75 tackles and 11 sacks.
A few months after his commitment, though, his family decided to move to the Oklahoma City area.
Ward first enrolled at Douglass, receiving a hardship waiver from the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association to gain immediate eligibility there.
After participating in a scrimmage with the Trojans, though, Ward transferred to Southmoore.
The OSSAA denied a second hardship waiver, ending Ward's senior season before it started.
Ward graduated from Southmoore in December so that he could start working out with the team and get a jump-start on his first season in college.
“I just want to play football again,” Ward said when he returned to Southmoore in February for a signing ceremony.
Ward's father, Demetrius, called the signing “bittersweet.”
“It was tough watching him sitting there with the decisions that I made, that my wife made, affecting him the way they did,” Demetrius said. “But at the same time, you look at the way he handled it and we're just so proud of him.”
Even his early enrollment didn't go as planned.
Ward couldn't work out with the team for more than three months as the NCAA Clearinghouse reviewed Ward's eligibility.
On signing day in early February, Stoops seemed perturbed that the process had dragged on that long.
“Hopefully, if the NCAA will find time to go through his records and get him cleared, by the time he's on the field, hopefully he'll make that up in spring ball,” Stoops said.
Ward didn't get to make up for much in the spring.
Spring practice started in early March and Ward still hadn't been cleared.
In early April, just days before the spring game and the close of practices, Ward was cleared.
Because of NCAA rules, Ward had to spend two days with no pads other than a helmet before he could practice in full pads.
Ward's first appearance in pads came during the spring game.
“D.J.'s been dying to play again,” Stoops said in the spring. “He's had a great attitude through it all. He's continued to lift and run and you can tell he looks like he's in excellent shape.”