NORMAN, Okla. — You know it's a slow news day when the big story is that a fourth-string running back has returned to the team just three days after requesting a transfer.
Senior running back Jerad Estus, who told the Sooner staff he wanted to find another school where he could get more playing time during his senior season, returned to the team Wednesday and worked out in OU's spirited two and half hour practice in full pads.
"Jerad just thought more about it and decided that's not the move he wanted to make," said Oklahoma Head Coach Bob Stoops after practice. "We have no hard feelings at all with Jerad. He's worked hard and I'm glad he's still here."
The on-again off-again practice schedule of Jason White was back on again on Wednesday and looked fairly mobile. Sophomore Brent Rawls was the first quarterback to take snaps with the first team followed by Noah Allen, Paul Thompson and White. Neither of the Sooners' four quarterbacks did much to stand out or even connect with a receiver on a deep pattern because of tight coverage from the OU secondary.
"We started out really slow," said junior receiver Brandon Jones. We've been getting our cornerbacks real good every week and today they got is really bad. Maybe we got too relaxed but at the end we picked it up."
OU's tight ends got a lot of work today with Lance Donley and James Moses making the majority of the catches over the middle. Moses and Donley seem to be separating themselves from Chris Chester, who seems to have success getting open but has trouble catching the ball.
The Sooners spent the last hour of Wednesday's practice in an 11-on-11 scrimmage (no tackling) and Lance Mitchell was clearly the standout on defense. Mitchell recorded two sacks and batted down one Rawls pass. Dan Cody practiced but did not participate in the final scrimmage against the offense. Cody seemed to be fine, but was replaced by Larry Birdine.
Junior Mark Bradley has showed his ability this spring and the Sooners are still finding ways to get him on the field because of OU's depth in the secondary. Bradley looks to be one of the Sooners' kick and punt block specialists rushing off the edge and today he was running with Antonio Perkins as the top returners on the kick-return team. Travis Wilson had been running alongside Bradley, but he fielded kicks on the second team with JeJuan Rankins.
The Sooners worked a lot on punting and Bob Stoops even through in a couple of trick plays near the end of the punt workout. J.D. Runells, who was the upback, took a direct snap on the first fake attempt but tripped over Donte Nicholson and was brought down by Jowahn Poteat. On the second attempt, the snap went back to Jeff Ferguson, who had Runells wide open 15-yards downfield, but the underthrew the pass allowing Jason Ca to pick it off. Carter, who never misses an opportunity to talk smack, had some joking words for Ferguson after the play.
Wednesday's workout was the second to last practice this spring, and several of the Sooners' had Saturday's spring game, which will be broadcast by ESPN's College Gameday, on their mind after the workout. ESPN will be in Norman to tape the Red/White game to show on a special spring Gameday edition on a later date.
"I think it's great for our program, and our players realize that, but they know they're going to go out and play hard in the spring game regardless of whether they're here or not," said Stoops on having the Gameday Crew in Norman. "They're respectful and appreciative that they're coming, but it doesn't change their mindset. Hopefully, we'll have a big crowd and its supposed to be a beautiful day and that gets them going a little bit more with all the people in the stands."
"It's another scrimmage but it gives all of us a chance to show what were made of and how well we can do," said senior running back Renaldo Works. "It's always exciting to play in front of someone. Whenever we get the chance to play in front of an audience of course we're excited, especially since we've been practicing against each other this whole time. There's always a sense of pride, you don't want to get beat by this other man on the other side of the ball."
"I'm really excited (about this weekend)," said Brandon Jones, who has had a fantastic spring. "It's always fun to go out there and have all these people watching. We're going against our teammates and its going to be lots of fun."
Stoops says linebacker Teddy Lehman, who is wearing a boot cast on his right foot after suffering a sprained ankle, will not scrimmage Saturday, and Jason White's status for Saturday is still up in the air.
"Teddy's played enough football around here that we're not going to push that," said Stoops. "Jason and the doctors whatever they think is right. A lot of that will be on how he feels."
Oklahoma will hold their last practice of the spring Thursday at 3:45 p.m, but Stoops says they won't go in full pads in their final tune-up before the Red/White game.
"We'll go out and practice (tomorrow)," said Stoops. "We'll get what we can in just helmets, no pads, but we'll still try to have a normal practice."
PRACTICE REPORT: Spring game on Sooners' mind
Sooners Illustrated Top Stories
OU recruiting report: DefenseEvaluating some of the top performances from OU's commits on defense.
Sooners IllustratedYesterday at 11:41 AM
OU unfiltered: Joe MixonIn his first interview of the season, it's OU running back Joe Mixon.
Sooners IllustratedYesterday at 8:50 AM
OU recruiting report: OffenseA review of the offensive performances of OU's commits so far this season.
Sooners IllustratedWednesday at 11:24 AM
Thomas, Walker making big impressionsPart II as reflect back on the best performances seen LIVE so far this season on recruiting trail.
Sooners IllustratedWednesday at 10:01 AM