Sooner Caravan: Stoops talks final changes

OKLAHOMA CITY — Sooner head coach Bob Stoops dropped a big bombshell Wednesday afternoon when he announced center Ben Habern would conclude his career without playing his senior season due to injuries, but he said that was really no surprise.

"Not real tough, we've been speculating on that all summer," Stoops said. "We love Ben, but again, not a big surprise to us who have been around."

At the onset, it appears disastrous.

OU's starting, preseason All-Big 12 and Rimington Trophy Award watch list center is out, forcing the Sooners to shift things around.

But if they've had a couple months to prepare for this, perhaps it isn't quite as bad as previously thought.

Maybe those comments made at Big 12 Media Days by Habern himself about true freshman Ty Darlington working into the rotation were based off the news he already knew.

Perhaps left guard Gabe Ikard, who represented his team at the Sooner Caravan Wednesday evening, has known for quite sometime that shifting over to center is the role he would play.

"You know, it's horrible," Ikard said. "Ben, he just has his best interests at heart, so it's one of those things where, you know, you lose you're best lineman. It's not anything [good at all]. It's horrible for him. It's horrible for the team, but you know, he's just taking care of his health, so and he's making a smart decison. But I assume I'll be at center during all of two-a-days now."

Stoops confirmed that moments later.

"Gabe, you will be playing center," Stoops said in front of the crowd.

Still, while he appeared as if things are in order when he addressed the media prior to that, Stoops did express his disappointment about not having his center who's started 30 career games.

"I'm gonna miss Ben, but we have other guys on the line with experience," Stoops said. "It's the most experienced position we have on the team. In that regard, it will be OK."

Simon set to go

Though he gave the media just a minute's worth of his time, Stoops managed to bring some positive information as well.

Along with already confirmed news that wide receiver LaColtan Bester has enrolled as is good to go, he announced that three-star 2012 cornerback signee Gary Simon is arriving and ready for action.

"A bit of good news, we got LaColtan Bester on campus and Gary Simon comes tomorrow," Stoops said. "He's all set to go, another big time recruit."

Simon was the 60th ranked corner in Scout.com's class, but one whom many think can be the best OU corner in a decade.

Reinstated players to be out "multiple, multiple games"

Wide receivers Jaz Reynolds and Trey Franks and defensive back Quentin Hayes may have got their names back on the roster, but it doesn't come without some heavy remaining punishment.

They should be [back on scholarship], but they'll miss considerable games," Stoops said. "We haven't determined that yet exactly, but it'll be multiple. Multiple, multiple. So, we'll see. But in the end, that hasn't changed."

One figures at least four. As many as eight is possible.

Despite that, Stoops assured everyone they'll be fine at receiver.

"No concerns, we'll have plenty," Stoops said. "We'll have guys out there. We'll be better than you think, I believe. Believe me, at receiver. All right? Everybody just relax. We've just got to go out and coach them. We'll be OK."

The Sooners report Thursday and have their first practice Friday, with Meet the Sooners Day and OU Media Day set for Saturday starting at 10:30 a.m.

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