The initial assumption was Ford might have been unhappy about his spot on the depth chart or that maybe coaches had decided to move on from Ford because of his fumbling issues.
His parents, Keith and Mary Ford, however, delivered a statement Tuesday morning to The Tulsa World to try to answer some questions and shed some light on the situation that might not be as simple as first thought.
“Although we respect the decision of Coach Stoops to suspend our son from the football team, the actions that prompted this decision were uncharacteristic of our son’s behavior,” his parents said in the statement. “We believe Keith never recovered completely (physically and/or mentally) from the injury that occurred in the Tennessee game.
“After speaking with several medical professionals we found that this is not uncommon among athletes after suffering extensive injury. Therefore, we brought this to the attention of Coach Stoops and the OU staff and they are actively engaged in helping Keith.
“When Coach Stoops told us, ‘I will never shut a kid out,’ he solidified our complete trust and confidence in the OU program. We are praying for the return of Keith Ford #21.”
A former five-star running back ranked No. 22 in the Scout 100 for the 2013 class, Ford looked like a budding star through the first three games last season.
He had rushed for 194 yards on 34 carries with five touchdowns and had eight catches for 90 yards with a touchdown. But after suffering a leg injury, he became out of sight and out of mind with the emergence of then-freshman Samaje Perine.
Ford suffered a leg injury that was originally only supposed to keep him out 1-2 games. Ford was unable to play the next five games. And by the time he had returned to full healthy, Perine has become the go-to back at OU and a success story across the nation.
Ford, originally from Houston Cypress Ranch High, rushed for 526 yards and six touchdowns during his two-year career that has been plagued by fumbling issues and injuries.
He was at the first practice last week, but rumors got out that Ford started to miss workouts and class and that has locker had been cleaned out by the end of the week.
Ford has been removed from OU’s online roster. Offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley declined to comment on Ford following Monday’s practice.