Senior Setback: Oklahoma Offers Fresh Start

National Signing Day is here and the crew at Sooners Illustrated has you covered. Throughout the day, we will bring you a variety of material about the upcoming Sooner class. Here we take a look at a few players who will be anxious to get back on the field after missing out on their senior seasons.

Even though players may give verbal commitments prior to their senior seasons, they still want to get the opportunity to play ball with childhood friends and leave their legacies at their high school programs. 

But, due to a variety of unfortunate circumstances, three of the 29 Oklahoma commitments were not able to see the field for their final seasons at the respective schools.

Cibolo Steele wide receiver Sheldon McClain and West Orange Stark athlete Trey Franks did not finish their high school careers the way they would have liked to.

For McClain, it was an ACL injury suffered during the second game of the season that left him sidelined. And though he will never get to replay his senior season at Steele, the 6-2.5, 180-pound McClain has already started preparing for his future as a Sooner.

He is an early enrollee and has been on campus for a couple of weeks now.

"One of the main reasons Sheldon wanted to go ahead and graduate early was he wanted to get a head start for spring football," Luther McClain, Sheldon's father said. "As for him missing his senior season, he was upset. He wanted to get the chance to really show what he could do. But, now that he is at Oklahoma, he is anxious to get on the field."

While McClain was living at home, he was traveling to New Braunsfels to get the necessary rehabilitation on his knee. Luther stated that the staff who headed up his rehab has done exceptional in their care for his son.

But now that he is in Norman, that specialized high level of rehab will continue.

"That was another reason that he wanted to get up to Oklahoma early. He knew that the doctors there would take good care of him and monitor his progress," Luther McClain said. "He really wants to try and be ready for spring football. But, if I had to make an educated guess, the (Oklahoma coaches) are not going to try and push this even though he wants to get on the field soon."

Before leaving his doctors at home, word was that McClain's recovery was two months ahead of schedule. Even still, Luther would rather see his son play it safe and make sure and take all of the months necessary for the proper healing.

In looking at what could have been viewed as a negative, according to Luther, there are quite a few positives. Basically, he sees that his son has become a better football player and person because of this experience.

"Steele is a primary running team, with Malcolm Brown getting a lot of carries. And don't get me wrong, he a great back and that is the kind of offense we run," Luther McClain said. "So, when he got the ball, he tried to make the most of it. And he wanted to get that chance this past year. But, stuff happens.

"I think that this (injury) helped him to be a better player and teammate. He had to be the vocal leader for the team and encourage the other guys."

For Franks, the situation is a little different. 

The West Orange Stark athlete was suspended for the rest of the semester for unclassified rules violations by the West Orange-Cove Independent School District at a board meeting. The penalty was inappropriate use of technology.

"It didn't really hit me until a couple of weeks later. But I felt bad not being able to be out there with my team," Franks said. "I dealt with a lot with this situation, but I was glad to have the support of family and community."

Franks did not have a lot of numbers for the 2009 season. He is set to play the receiver position once he gets to Oklahoma. He is known for his speed with 40 times in the 4.4.

Nonetheless, both will have a clean slate as they embark on new beginnings as Big 12 college football players.

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