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June 7, 2012
TULSA -- Bob Stoops is no stranger to tough decisions. Just a day before the start of preseason practice in 2006, Stoops dismissed starting quarterback Rhett Bomar when it was found he was paid for offseason work he didn't perform.
On May 9, Stoops made a similar decision when he suspended the bulk of his wide receiving corps for violation of team rules. Receivers Jaz Reynolds, Trey Franks and Kameel Jackson, along with defensive back Quentin Hayes, were suspended.
Wednesday, Stoops spoke for the first time on those player suspensions, since a brief, yet resolute, university email.
"There's no update," Stoops said. "Several have been removed from scholarship and we're not counting on any of them and we have many other players who are ready to play and we'll keep moving forward.
"What happens? We'll see. This program doesn't bank on any one individual in particular, so we've got other players that are in position to move up and play and we've recruited a lot of really good players. We'll keep moving on and hopefully we'll have enough players to play when it comes time and I believe it will."
Stoops' statement wasn't completely clear during his sit down session with members of the local Tulsa media, so SoonerScoop.com asked for clarification from Stoops following his interview session.
Stoops told SoonerScoop.com Kameel Jackson wasn't included in the group he was referencing during the press conference. He did say Franks, Reynolds and Hayes were no longer on scholarship.
"Are they enrolled in summer school?" we asked.
"I don't think so," replied Stoops.
Stoops also confirmed to us that those three players would not be allowed to workout with the team this summer.
"I think over 13 or 14 years, our track record has been pretty similar. We stick to what's proper, what's appropriate," added Stoops. "Our team policies are university policies and we don't much waiver. You either abide by them or you don't."
Jackson had previously expressed a desire to transfer from Oklahoma to Texas A&M via social networking site, Twitter.
"Embracing my last week as a Sooner; as I've chose to transfer and further my education and football career at Texas A&M," tweeted Jackson May 6.
But shortly after SoonerScoop.com reported A&M would not accept Jackson's tranfer request, he announced he would be staying at Oklahoma, while also announcing his problems at Oklahoma were academic in nature, and nothing else.
"Decided to stay at OU. (And with) that being said, its time to silence all rumors," Jackson tweeted May 17. "My suspensions came from my failure to meet my class attendance policy. Nothing more; nothing less"
Jackson gives the Sooners a very important body at the wide receiver position. Without Reynolds and Franks, the Sooners were down to just Trey Metoyer and Kenny Stills. Even with the Rivals.com No. 1 rated recruiting class entering Norman, Jackson was a starter against Iowa in the Insight Bowl last December.
Jackson's presence this summer will also help with incoming recruits who must learn the OU offensive system without the aid of a coaching staff.
Regardless of Jackson's return, a return that is still likely to be on a conditional basis, Stoops and his staff has hit the recruiting trail, trying to bring in talent to fill the void left by Reynolds and Franks. They ended up with Lacoltan Bester, a talented junior college transfer, who will be eligible this fall.
"I'm really excited about him," said Stoops about Bester Wednesday evening. "Lacolton is a strong, big player. He's got size, he's got strength. He was a wonderful young man when he was in for a couple of days and he's just what we need, to be honest with you. We felt incredibly lucky to have a chance to be in a position with him. I think he's going to do really well. We'll see."
The Sooners aren't completely giving up on Fresno State transfer Jalen Saunders either. Saunders and Arizona defensive back transfer Cortez Johnson are both applying for NCAA waivers to regain eligibility in 2012 due to their coaching staff turnovers following the 2011 season.
Stoops is hoping those players might add to his stable of talent next season.
"I think there's always a chance. It's happened with a couple of guys that have left our program, that have gotten waivers," said Stoops. "Sure. I think there's always a decent chance. You just have to let it work out."
The other hot topic among OU fans was addressed, somewhat, by Stoops Wednesday - incoming freshmen. When asked if Stoops had ruled out any incoming freshmen from academics, he said as of that moment, no incoming players had been crossed off the entrance list.
"I can say not now," Stoops said. "No."
That doesn't mean there might not be an academic casualty, or even multiple casualties. It just means as of Wednesday, no one had been confirmed as an academic casualty.