Key players suspended for CFB Playoff semifinal
The Oklahoma Sooners will have multiple players suspended for the College Football Playoff when they take on LSU in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.
Multiple sources confirmed the suspensions to SoonerScoop over the last two days. Most notably, starting defensive lineman Ronnie Perkins as one the players suspended along with backup running back Rhamondre Stevenson. True freshman and special teams standout Trejan Bridges has also been suspended.
There are other players who will also be serving suspensions, but multiple sources confirmed that no other suspended players are regular starters. And none of the others are considered key reserves by the coaching staff.
The suspensions are the result of failed drug tests administered by the NCAA. The tests are given to each program competing in NCAA champioonship events.
Riley was given the opportunity to comment on the rumors of the suspensions during his early signing day press conference Wednesday afternoon.
"I'm aware of the report that's out there. Unfortunately at this time, I cannot comment on it," he said.
Riley continued to be asked questions regarding the suspensions. He confirmed to one reporter that Kennedy Brooks would play in the Peach Bowl. The reporter followed up that question asking Riley if Rhamondre Stevenson would play in the Peach Bowl.
"Kennedy Brooks will play," answered Riley to the question about Stevenson.
Riley was also asked about the status of Perkins near the end of today's press conference.
"I'm not commenting on it anymore," he said. "Sorry... Sorry."
The suspension of Perkins is the toughest blow for the OU defense, who will be defending Joe Burrow, this year's Heisman Trophy winner. Perkins leads the Sooners in sacks with 6 on the season. He also has the second most tackles for loss (13.5) behind Kenneth Murray (16).
Stevenson's suspension is a blow to the OU offense as he was starting to come on late in the season. Against Baylor in the Big 12 Championship game, Stevenson rushed 8 times for 48 yards and scored the game winning touchdown in overtime.
Kennedy Brooks has carried the load this season, but it started to take a toll on the redshirt sophomore late in the season as he had 25 rushes for 149 yards against TCU, 22 rushes for 160 yards against Oklahoma State and 17 carries for 59 yards in the Big 12 Championship against Baylor to end the season.
Bridges, a true freshman, has seen spot duty as a receiver, but he's been a key contributor on special teams and was even involved in the onside kick late in the Kansas State game which almost gave the ball back to the Sooners with a chance to tie the game.
An appeals process could clear one of more players of the suspensions, but those appeals must be requested by the school and we currently do not know if an appeal for any of the players has been put into action.
Riley declined to comment on whether an appeals process was underway during his press conference.
Riley did talk about facing the adversity heading into the College Football Playoff if this team was facing suspensions.
"Well, this whole game, all these playoffs are a huge distraction. There's a million different distractions right now getting prepared for this," Riley said. "It's the team that can handle those the best that's going to be the most equipped coming into it.
"We've had challenges all year. We've had challenges of whether you lose a player to injury, new players, this or that. That's part of how it goes. We'll handle it the way we have and we'll be ready to play."