Tapper emerging at DE

Defensive line questions continue to surround OU. Updates on Michael Onuoha and Charles Tapper add more intrigue to situation.

Another day and another defensive end out of the rotation for Oklahoma. OU coach Bob Stoops announced Tuesday sophomore end Mike Onuoha has not practiced and had a procedure in the spring which he is still trying to recover from.

Stoops didn't elaborate on the procedure but said he is optimistic Onuoha will be able to return soon and said he's excited about his potential.

"He had his operation there in the spring," Stoops said. "We're optimistic to get him back after maybe the third game or so."

If Onuoha is on track, that would put him back in the fold before OU's first road game of the season at Notre Dame on Sept. 28.

At least with Onuoha a timetable is set. No such target date was set for freshman defensive end D.J. Ward when Stoops announced Ward's situation.

Ward has not practiced with the team yet because of a spleen issue, an issue that was discovered before practice started. Stoops didn't comment at all on the severity because he said nothing is concrete and said the doctors are doing all they can to figure it out.

There is good news for OU and defensive ends as Stoops had nothing but positive things to say about the development of Charles Tapper.

Stoops made the comparison of Tapper to NFL defensive end Frank Alexander in terms of somebody who came to OU and not much was known about him at the time.

"Charles is every bit the athlete and player that Frank was at that age," Stoops said. "His upside is really big. This is only his third year playing. He's strong, physical and can run."

A difference with Tapper has been in the weight room, something several players talked about last season. Tapper was originally a basketball player and didn't spend much time in the weight room.

That has changed since arriving at OU, and the differences have been clear to see for the coaches. Tapper hasn't been named a starter at defensive end, but he has definitely put himself in the conversation.

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