By JOHN SHINN
NORMAN — Oklahoma is down another defensive end. Sooner coach Bob Stoops said Tuesday that sophomore Mike Onuoha is not practicing due to an injury he suffered in the spring.
“We’re excited about Michael. He had his surgery in the spring. We’re optimistic we’ll get him back after the third game or so,” Stoops said. “There’s a long year to play. If something happens to some other guys, then he’s back in the mix early to the middle of the year and he’s ready to help again.”
Onuoha, who came to OU last season from Edmond Santa Fe, played in four games as a freshman making four tackles.
Onuoha's absence leaves OU without two, young defensive ends.
Stoops announced Monday that freshman D.J. Ward was out indefinitely due to a “spleen issue.” However, the coach did say the general health of the team has been good thus far. “There’s nothing other than a guy nicked here and there that misses a day,” Stoops said. “Nothing really to speak of.”
Ward out with 'spleen issue'
Oklahoma is rebuilding its defensive line, but one of the defensive ends it brought in to help isn’t practicing. OU coach Bob Stoops said freshman D.J. Ward is being held out of practice because of a “spleen issue.”
“We learned about it after it (preseason practice) started,” Stoops said. “Doctors, he and family are figuring it out. Once we know what it’s going to take, we’ll say so.
Ward graduated from Southmoore High School, but didn’t play his senior year because of an eligibility ruling by the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association.
The 6-foot-2, 245-pound defensive end was a consensus four-star recruit and was both Rivals.com’s and ESPN.com’s No. 1 prep player in Oklahoma.
Ward enrolled at OU in January but wasn’t cleared by the NCAA to practice until late in the spring. He only went through three, including the spring game, of the 15 allowed spring workouts.
Stoops said there wasn’t a timetable for when or if Ward will begin to practice.
“We’re unsure where that will lead,” he said.
The absence of another defensive lineman adds another challenge for a rebuilding unit. Ward wasn’t projected as a starter, but it was already a thin group with no returning starters from last season.
David King graduated and Chuka Ndulue moved to defensive tackle in the spring. Charles Tapper and Geneo Grissom seemed to take over the starting spots in the spring with P.L. Lindley and Rashod Favors also getting work with the first unit.
Mike Stoops remarked at OU’s Media Day that OU must develop some playmakers on the defensive line. Without Ward, the picking are yet more slim.