By JOHN SHINN
NORMAN — Oklahoma defensive end D.J. Ward had his spleen removed Tuesday morning and isn’t expected to practice again for six weeks.
The surgery was performed while OU practiced at its indoor facility Tuesday.
“We haven’t heard how it’s all gone. Hopeful that it’s all gone well,” OU coach Bob Stoops said following Tuesday’s practice. “Usually that’s a six-week recovery; that’s what they usually are, give or take some. We don’t know how it will go after that. So, we’ll just have to wait and see.”
Stoops said OU’s medical staff discovered Ward had an enlarged spleen prior to the start of preseason practice. The freshman from Southmoore High School has been held out of workouts because of the condition. The condition was not caused by contact.
Stoops faces a decision on whether Ward, who was consensus four-star recruiting services, will redshirt this season.
“It’s way too early to say that,” Stoops said. “We’re not even into the season. We’re still two and a half weeks from the season.”
What is certain is OU’s defensive end depth has taken a preseason hit. Under the time frame Stoops laid out Tuesday, Ward will be out until late September. Sophomore defensive Mike Onuoha will also miss the first few games while recovering from a shoulder injury suffered in the spring.
Neither was projected as a starter this season, but OU hoped both would push projected starters Charles Tapper and Geneo Grisson for playing time. Freshmen Ogbonnia Okoronkwo and Matt Dimon have drawn positive reviews since preseason camp began, but numbers are still light.
For Ward, it’s another setback for a playing career that’s been on hold for two years. Ward did not play his senior at Southmoore due to OSSAA transfer rules. He graduated from high school a semester early, but was not cleared to practice at OU until the final of spring practice.
The last time he played in a real game was in 2011, when he attended Lawton High School.