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January 30, 2012

Ben Habern out for spring after neck surgery

Oklahoma starting center and team captain Ben Habern is recovering in Norman following neck surgery.

Habern's surgery was performed on Friday by neuroscience specialist Dr. Benjamin White and team physician Dr. Brock Schnebel.

Sources close to Habern would not divulge the full extent of the surgery, only that a full recovery is expected.

"They said the surgery was perfect and that he's going to heal up fine and he'll be back 100 percent in 90 days and he'll be doing full conditioning and weight lifting and he'll be ready to go in August," said a source close to Habern.

Habern will spend the next three to six weeks in a neck brace following surgery.

"They're going to get him back in the underwater treadmill right away," the source said. "He probably won't go through spring. He's a fifth-year senior and a three-year starter and there's probably no need for him to do that."

Initial rumors surfaced last week that Habern was in need of a serious operation that could be career threatening. But the source close to the senior center insists any talk in that direction is completely unfounded.

"His football career is certainly not over," the source said.

Habern missed five games in 2011 after breaking his forearm against Missouri in the third game of the season.

Habern did finish out the final five games of the season, but according to those close to the OU center, MRIs and CT scans revealed the injury to his neck was a preexisting condition and wasn't suffered in one of those last five games.

"They think it could have been something in his neck that goes all the way back to high school," said the source. "It was just there and it kept bothering him and kept getting worse all the time and they just went in and repaired it. It's not something that happened even this year."

Gabe Ikard will be the obvious choice to handle the majority of the center duties for the first team offense during spring football in Habern's absence. With spring practices starting March 5, the Sooners have plenty of depth returning to make up for the absence of their starting center.


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