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Gene Chizik: ‘We’ve got a long road of grieving’

Gene Chizik AP

Appearing in his first press conference since the shooting that resulted in the death of two former players over the weekend, Auburn coach Gene Chizik had to address what he described as “an incredibly difficult 72 hours.

“It’s a long road ahead of us,” Chizik said. “We’ve got a long road of grieving, and everybody has a different way of doing that….There were a lot of emotions spilled out. This is a grieving process. There’s no right and no wrong.”

The deaths of former players Ed Christian and Ladarious Phillips has cast a dark cloud over the Auburn community, which continues to hope for the capture of shooting suspect Desmonte Leonard following a fruitless “standoff” at a Montgomer, Ala., home that lasted well into the night. Two other arrests have been made in connection to the shooting, however.

Among those wounded in the incident is current offensive lineman Eric Mack, who sustained a wound in the buttocks near the hip. Chizik said he anticipates Mack will fully recover, but added that football is the last thing on his mind right now.

“I’m not worried about football season,” Chizik said. “I don’t care about football season. This is about young guys getting past a tragic event.”

When asked if he had any words for Leonard, who is facing three counts of capital murder, Chizik said “No… I don’t.”

Chizik added that any student-athletes who wanted to attend memorial services for the deceased would be provided transportation. Counseling services will also be available.

(Hat tip: al.com) 

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Touted 2015 QB charged with assault hours after release from jail

Jayru Campbell

Forget about getting his football career back on track; the life of a touted 2015 quarterback prospect is hurtling straight toward years and years worth of incarceration.

Detroit Cass Tech (Mich.) High School’s Jayru Campbell is — or at least was — given a four-star rating by Rivals.com, rated as the No. 9 dual-threat quarterback in the Class of 2015.  He had been a Michigan State verbal before, ahem, “decommitting” from the Spartans back in June.

Late last week, the 17-year-old Campbell was arrested and charged after allegedly assaulting his 17-year-old girlfriend at Cass Tech. Campbell has officially been charged with unarmed robbery, assault with intent to do great bodily harm and misdemeanor domestic violence assault and battery.

Those charges came hours — literally — after Campbell had been released from jail after serving a 60-day sentence connected to an earlier assault on a school security officer. This latest assault will result in a probation violation, which in and of itself could trigger significant jail time for the troubled teen. And that doesn’t even take into account the potential sentences for his latest charges: assault to do great bodily harm, a felony that could lead to up to 10 years in jail; unarmed robbery, a felony punishable by up to 15 years in jail; and domestic violence, a misdemeanor worth up to 93 days in jail.

As for the details of what led to those potentially serious charges, this from the Detroit News HERE and HERE pretty much sums it up:

He reportedly grabbed his girlfriend’s phone, saw whom she was texting when he was in jail, went into a rage and began choking her.

According to the prosecutor’s office, “during school hours it is alleged that Campbell was at Cass Tech when he assaulted his girlfriend in front of other students over a dispute over a phone.”

Again, that alleged assault came just 3-4 hours after he had been released from jail at noon for an earlier assault.

Campbell missed the start of the 2014 season, his senior year, because he was in jail serving 47 of the 60 days to which he was sentenced. This latest incident all but assures his high school career is over, although that’s not the least bit surprising given the player’s propensity for violence.

In late May, Campbell was sentenced to, among other things, 60 days in jail after pleading guilty to misdemeanor aggravated assault.  The quarterback had originally been charged with felony assault with intent to do great bodily harm after he body slammed a school security guard who had the audacity to tell him to remove a hood; that charge was dropped as part of a plea agreement reached with prosecutors.

 

The school security guard incident wasn’t the first instance of violence involving Campbell, however.

Last November, Campbell was again (somewhat) caught on video, this time punching a Detroit Catholic Central player in the handshake line following a Cass Tech playoff loss. The Detroit News reported Campbell was suspended for 3-5 days by the school immediately following that incident. He was also suspended for the 2014 season opener, a suspension he served while behind bars.

In the video below, you don’t see the actual punch that was acknowledged by the player’s own coach, but you do see the aftermath — including, ironically enough, Campbell being put to the ground by another man:

 

“I’m not a thug,” Campbell said during a June TV interview, prior to serving his jail term. “I would not consider myself as a criminal. I would consider myself as a natural-born leader and someone that likes to help others. …

“I just learned that violence is not the answer. There’s different ways that you can solve a problem. … Learn to forgive. It took some time but I would say I definitely got to the point where I’m thinking before I react.”

What’s the old axiom, actions speak louder than words? Yeah, that pretty much sums up this whole sordid situation.

(Photo credit: Rivals.com)

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USU gets good news on Chuckie Keeton injury front

Chuckie Keeton AP

Thanks to what transpired in 2013, Utah State and its fan are rather cognizant of any type of injury scare when it comes to Chuckie Keeton.

Fortunately for USU and its followers, this latest one’s just that, a scare. Probably.

In the first half of USU’s win over Wake Forest Saturday, Keeton suffered an injury to his left knee — the same knee in which significant ligaments were torn asunder last year. While the quarterback finished out the half, he didn’t play the last two quarters because of the issue and instead spent the second half on the sidelines and on crutches.

The bad news is Keeton will not play in this weekend’s game against Arkansas State. The good news? Following the bye in Week 5, Keeton is expected to be back for the Oct. 3 game against BYU. Maybe.

“Chuckie is fine from a health standpoint,” head coach Matt Wells said. “The ACL is all intact; everything’s good. But it’s banged up, guys, and that’s the bottom line.

“So, we’re going to sit him out this week, and we’re going to sit him out next week. Then we’re going to re-evaluate him during the BYU week.”

In the first half of the game against the Demon Deacons, Keeton was 20-of-27 for 166 yards passing and a touchdown. And it won’t be his last on-field action as Wells was emphatic that “he’s not out for the year.”

With Keeton out for the ASU game at bare minimum, though, Darrell Garretson will get the start. After replacing Keeton in the road win over the ACC school, Garretson completed 11-of-16 passes for 121 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

The fact that USU may be erring on the side of caution when it comes to one of the most underrated players in the country is not the least bit surprising.

Keeton suffered a tear of both the ACL and MCL in his knee during an early-October loss to BYU last season and was held out of the 15 spring practice sessions as a precaution.  In May, just four months ago, Keeton was medically cleared to resume football activities seven months after the injury.

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UW Huskies get starting corner back from suspension

Washington v Hawaii

Marcus Peters sat out Washington’s win over Illinois this past Saturday because of what was essentially a toddler-level temper tantrum on the sidelines the week before.

After serving that timeout, it appears the cornerback is set for a return. Probably.

We got him back,” UW head coach Chris Petersen said after Peters had returned to practice. “He’s back with us. We’ll just take it one day at a time.”

Petersen was non-committal, at least for now, when it comes to Peters reassuming his starting roll.  When asked if Peters has been doing well since his eviction from the doghouse, Petersen quipped, “for the first six hours, yes.”

Not counting the Illini game, Peters has started 22 of the last 23 games at cornerback for the Huskies. He was named second-team All-Pac-12 following the 2013 season.

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WVU CB Daryl Worley suspended indefinitely for violation of team rules

West Virginia v Alabama Getty Images

Well, this isn’t what you want to happen five days before No. 4 Oklahoma comes to town.

West Virginia cornerback Daryl Worley has been suspended indefinitely for the ubiquitous “violation of team rules”, head coach Dana Holgorsen announced Monday night.

Worley registered 45 tackles and an interception in five starts a year ago as a freshman. The Philadelphia native was one of three Mountaineers selected to represent the club at Big 12 Media Days in Dallas this summer, if you’re looking for an idea of where he stood on the team. Through three games this season, Worley has posted 17 tackles, two tackles for loss, and a team-best two interceptions.

The good news here is that West Virginia’s secondary won’t be totally depleted. As Worley moves off the active roster, senior cornerback Ishmael Banks replaces him. Banks’ three-game, NCAA-mandated suspension for academic issues is now over. Banks started all 12 games at cornerback in 2013, and posted two interceptions.

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Todd Graham, AD Ray Anderson pledge a combined $1 million for Sun Devil Stadium renovation

Weber State v Arizona State Getty Images

Arizona State’s leadership is serious about renovating Sun Devil Stadium. So serious, in fact, that two major figures inside the athletics department have pledged a cool $1 million to get it done.

Head coach Todd Graham and athletics director Ray Anderson, along with their wives, have each pledged $500,000 to the $50 million fundraising campaign to renovate the 56-year-old stadium. They are the largest gifts in the history of the Arizona State athletics department made by ASU employees.

“Pick the cliche, skin in the game, put your money where your mouth is, you’ve got to walk the walk,” Anderson told the Arizona Republic on Monday. “I think intuitively the four of us understood we needed to step up and be able to answer those challenges, and we believe we have in a significant way to the extent our circumstances allow. Now Todd and I can go out much more credibly and much more comfortably to ask others to say, ‘Join us in this transformational experience.’ We can do it much more emphatically, because in fact we put skin in the game.”

Graham earns $2.4 million in his third year as the Sun Devils’ head coach. Anderson earns $600,000, but can afford to pledge more than 80 percent of his salary after multiple decades in high-paying positions within the sports business. Anderson spent many years as an agent before working as a labor lawyer in Atlanta, then executive vice president and chief administration officer for the Atlanta Falcons, and then as executive vice president of football operations for the NFL before joining the Sun Devils’ athletics department. He reportedly made $1.69 million with the NFL.

“We’re not following anybody else’s model,” Graham said. “It’s the Arizona State model. We have an opportunity to do something great. It’s a family decision for us, but it wasn’t something I spent a lot of time thinking about. It was a no-brainer because it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, and we wanted to step up and say, ‘The Grahams are committed.'”

So committed is Anderson to getting this project done that he hired Greg McElroy Sr. away from the Dallas Cowboys to serve as associate vice president and chief business development officer.

All told, the project is slated to cost $225 million, with construction beginning next year.

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Army announces 2015 schedule, includes trip to Happy Valley, date with Rutgers at Yankee Stadium

Jeff Monken

Army is but two games into its 2014 season, but its 2015 schedule is already set.

The Black Knights unveiled their 2015 slate on Monday, highlighted by a trip to Penn State, a home date with Duke, a return to Yankee Stadium to face Rutgers, and the traditional finale versus Navy. Army will also face Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy rival Air Force on Nov. 7 in Colorado Springs; the Black Knights have not claimed the trophy since 1996, and have posted a combined 4-34 record against their service academy rivals since then.

The Rutgers game will be Army’s third appearance in the new Yankee Stadium. The Black Knights fell to Notre Dame 27-3 on Nov. 20, 2010, and will face Connecticut in the House That Jeter Built on Nov. 8 of this season.

The date with Penn State represents the 26th all-time meeting between the Black Knights and Nittany Lions, but first since 1979. Penn State holds a 13-10-2 lead, and has claimed the last nine meetings.

Army will be one just three FBS Independents next season, as Navy begins is maiden voyage in the American Athletic Conference.

Army is 1-1 in the debut campaign of head coach Jeff Monken.

The full schedule:

Sept. 5 – vs. Fordham
Sept. 12 – at Connecticut
Sept. 19 – vs. Wake Forest
Sept. 26 – at Eastern Michigan
Oct. 3 – at Penn State
Oct. 10 – vs. Duke
Oct. 17 – vs. Bucknell
Oct. 24 – at Rice
Nov. 7 – at Air Force
Nov. 14 – vs. Tulane
Nov. 21 – vs. Rutgers (at Yankee Stadium, Bronx, N.Y.)
Dec. 12 – vs. Navy (at Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia)

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UCLA announces signing of top-ranked QB Josh Rosen

Josh Rosen

With Brett HundleyMyles Jack and company on the field, the present state of UCLA football looks pretty good. And with today’s news, the future looks pretty dang sunny as well.

The Bruins formally announced the signing of quarterback recruit Josh Rosen on Monday afternoon. A five-star recruit if there ever was one, Rosen is the No. 2 ranked player among the Class of 2015 according to Rivals.com, and the nation’s highest rated quarterback. Hailing from St. John Bosco High School and Bellflower, Calif., Rosen has 5,287 career passing yards and 61 touchdowns to his credit. As a junior, the 6-foot-4, pro style signal caller completed nearly 70 percent of his throws for 3,200 yards with 39 touchdowns and only seven interceptions.

Rosen guided St. John Bosco to a 16-0 record and a CIF State Open Division Bowl title a year ago, and has his club ranked No. 1 nationally by USA Today. But other than that, the kid has nothing going for him.

Rosen is set to join the Bruins at the beginning of the winter quarter, which starts Jan. 2.

With redshirt junior quarterback Brett Hundley figured to accept the riches some NFL team will bestow upon him this spring, Rosen will compete with the blonde locks and late-game heroics of Jerry NeuheiselAsiantii WoulardMike Fafaul and a host of others for the staring role in 2015.

The Bruins also added four-star junior college outside linebacker Takk McKinley on Monday.

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Georgia RB Nick Chubb undergoes thumb surgery

Clemson v Georgia Getty Images

Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo will have even fewer excuses for not getting the ball to Todd Gurley for the next week or so. Freshman running back Nick Chubb underwent thumb surgery on Monday after suffering an injury during practice last week.

Playing with his left thumb under extra glove and protective wrapping, Chubb toted the rock four times for 34 yards in the 13th-ranked Bulldogs’ 38-35 loss to No. 14 South Carolina.

Chubb’s availability for Saturday’s date with Troy figures to be in doubt, but nothing has been finalized.

“They said they would see how he’s doing (Tuesday) before they make that decision,” his mother, Lavelle Chub, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Possibly this week but they’re not really sure (how long he’ll be out).”

The freshman has splashed on the scene in a loaded backfield through two games, rushing eight times for 104 yards and a touchdown. His 13 yards per carry average places him second nationally.

Georgia hosts Troy on Saturday, and then re-opens SEC play with consecutive home dates against Tennessee and Vanderbilt.

 

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Iowa State OL Jacob Gannon rejoins team after battling anxiety

Jacob Gannon, Christian Dudzik

One of the strangest stories of this young 2014 season has come full-circle in a positive way.

After abruptly leaving the team under uncertain circumstances 11 days ago, Iowa State offensive tackle Jacob Gannon rejoined the team on Monday.

The reason for Gannon’s departure was anxiety, and thankfully his condition is well enough under control that he can return to the club immediately.“I have been recently diagnosed with anxiety,” Gannon said in a statement. “I am receiving treatment for my condition and I am looking forward to being a part of the football team. I want to thank Coach Rhoads and my teammates for their support.”

“We are glad Jacob is back with the Cyclone football family,” added head coach Paul Rhoads. “We are behind Jacob 100 percent and will continue to support him throughout the process.”

Kudos to Gannon for realizing he had an issue, and credit to Iowa State for creating an environment where he can get treatment for an unseen ailment. That’s not always the case in the rah-rah, macho football culture.

Gannon started 13 of his 36 career appearances before leaving the club in the aftermath of the Cyclones’ 34-14 season-opening loss to North Dakota State. He was replaced at right tackle by redshirt freshman Jake Campos.

A three-year letterwinner, Gannon is also a two-time Academic All-Big 12 performer and was honored with a National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete award.

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AD Joe Castiglione doubts OU would have taken DGB if available after Ray Rice video release

Oklahoma v Alabama

The release of the Ray Rice video has changed the reality a lot of people live in – including those inside college athletics. If the spotlight was not bright enough on domestic assault – or any other sort of violence – it is now. And that puts Norman, Okla., at the epicenter of the domestic violence issue inside college athletics.

In April, sexual assault allegations against linebacker Frank Shannon came to light. Shannon has since been suspended for the season, a decision which he appealed. In mid-August, freshman running back Joe Mixon was suspended for the season for striking a female and breaking four bones in her face over the summer.

And then there is the case of former Missouri wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham. Kicked off the team breaking into a female’s apartment and subsequently pushing her down the stairs, Green-Beckham joined the Sooners in July and is sitting out the 2014 season after his immediate transfer waiver was denied by the NCAA.

Of the three, Green-Beckham’s case has cast the highest scrutiny upon Oklahoma, partly because DGB is the most high-profile player among the group, and partly because Oklahoma accepted him as a transfer and then petitioned for him to play immediately on nebulous grounds. Reached by Sports Illustrated recently, Oklahoma athletics director Joe Castiglione said Green-Beckham more than likely would not be a Sooner if available today – not because of any newfound moral clarity, but simply because Castiglione thinks the case would simply be too hot for Oklahoma to handle.

“If someone presented a case like that now, I think you would be fair to say that he probably wouldn’t be at Oklahoma,” Castiglione said. “Just because of the attention and the cases now in the public consciousness, the university would have been unlikely to take on a situation like that.”

This is an issue that isn’t going away soon for Oklahoma. Shannon maintains his innocence. The media has seen the Mixon incident on video, but the public has not. Recall again how quickly the Rice fiasco engulfed the news cycle once that video went public.

To be fair, Oklahoma is not the only school in college football, not even the only school in its conference, dealing with this issue. And this is college football, after all. There is no doubt to Green-Beckham’s ability to play the game at the highest of levels.

If Oklahoma didn’t take him, someone else would have.

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SMU hires ex-Gator assistant Tim Davis to help coach Mustangs OL

Tim Davis

In a season full of tumult and turmoil, SMU is looking to the outside for help in fixing something on the inside of the football program.

Earlier Monday, SMU interim head coach Tom Mason announced that he has added Tim Davis to his Mustangs coaching staff.  Davis will aid current offensive line coach Wes Saun with that positional group.

Davis brings extensive experience to the squad, especially at the collegiate level.  In a 31-year coaching career, Davis has spent time on coaching staffs at, among other places, Wisconsin, Utah, USC, Alabama and Minnesota.

Davis served as the line coach at Florida for two seasons before being fired shortly after the end of the 2013 regular season.

“I felt like we needed some help there and he can give us some help,” Mason, who took over the program after June Jones abruptly resigned a week ago today, said as his team was coming off a bye this weekend. “He’s an expert at that and he’ll bring a little energy.”

If Davis is going to help SMU’s beleaguered line, he has a tough row to hoe ahead of him.

This season, the Mustangs are 102nd in passing yards per game and dead last in rushing yards with minus-16 — yes, they’ve run for negative yardage this season.  Of SMU’s 39 carries, 24 of them either lost yards (21) or went for no gain (3).  Mustang quarterbacks have been sacked 11 times in just two games.

So, yes, Davis — and the new coaching staff next year — has his work cut out for him.

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Baylor expected to get three WRs back for ISU game

Antwan Goodley Getty Images

Not that it actually needed them, but Baylor was down all four of its leading returning wide receivers from 2013 for last Friday’s 63-12 romp over Buffalo.

For the Bears’ next game, they should be back to near full-strength in the receiving corps.

On his teleconference Monday, head coach Art Briles confirmed that Antwan Goodley (pictured), Corey Coleman and Clay Fuller will play in BU’s next game against Iowa State.  Neither Goodly (quad) nor Coleman (hamstring) nor Fuller (clavicle) have caught a pass this season after combining for 138 receptions last season.  Goodly alone accounted for 71 of those.

There’s no word on when Levi Norwood (47-733-4 in 2013) will return. Two weeks ago, Norwood underwent wrist surgery and was originally scheduled to be out for at least three weeks. That would’ve put him back on the field for the Cyclones game, although that doesn’t appear to be the case as of today.

With all of that experience sidelined, youth has been served for Baylor in the passing game.  True freshman KD Cannon has proven to be one of the early breakout stars in the whole of college football, catching 14 passes for 471 yards and five touchdowns.  The receiving yards lead the FBS, while his receiving scores are tied for second nationally.

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Tide may get starting WR, CB back for Gator game

West Virginia v Alabama Getty Images

The key word in that headline, though, is “may,” especially as it pertains to the latter.

With their SEC opener against looming five days down the road, Nick Saban used part of his allotted time during the SEC coaches teleconference to address the status of a pair of injured starters, wide receiver DeAndrew White and cornerback Jarrick Williams.  Of the two, it appears White is the one closer to a return.

In Alabama’s season-opening win over West Virginia, White suffered what Saban described as a “little separated shoulder.”  The receiver has missed the past two games, but Saban sounded more optimistic than pessimistic that he’ll be available for the Florida game Saturday.

“We’ll see how it goes with him and make a decision later in the week and see if we think he’s able to play,” the coach said.

While Williams will return to practice this week, al.com wrote that Saban “called him a long shot to play against Florida.” Williams played on a broken foot in the opener and, like White, has missed the past two games.

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Rutgers apologizes to Penn State for ‘inappropriate, offensive’ fans

Penn State v Rutgers Getty Images

It appears some of the Rutgers denizens in Piscataway took the “rivalry” aspect of the game against Penn State a little bit too far for the administration’s liking.

In a statement credited to Julie Hermann and sent out Monday morning, the RU athletic director apologized for what she described as the “inappropriate and offensive” signs made and t-shirts worn by Scarlet Knight fans before and during the primetime affair Saturday night. That game marked RU’s first-ever game a against a Big Ten team as a member of that conference, and a record crowd of 53,774 were on hand to witness it. And the debauchery.

Suffice to say, most of what Hermann deemed “inappropriate and offensive” alluded to the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal of nearly three years ago.

One of the more salacious photos — we’ll link to it HERE but won’t post it on CFT — shows a certain sex act between what appears to be a stick figure-type young boy and an adult on a Penn State banner. As you would expect, there were the obligatory “Ped State” t-shirts as well. One of those types of t-shirts made a brief appearance on RU’s official Facebook page:

Below is Hermann’s complete statement.

On behalf of Rutgers University and the Athletic Department, we would like to apologize for the regrettable actions of a handful of Rutgers fans on Saturday that do not convey the message of good, competitive spirit that we look forward to having with our new Big Ten rival Penn State University.

Some of the signage and t-shirts that we have been made aware of were both inappropriate and offensive.

I have spoken with and apologized to the Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour and I would like to apologize equally to the Penn State University fans, as well as Rutgers fans that were subjected to this classless display that does not represent the ethos of our university, athletic department or fan base.

The two inappropriate pictures that appeared briefly on our Facebook page as part of a 200-picture montage were immediately removed when we were alerted to their content.

It is unfortunate that the actions of a few spoiled an otherwise historic and recording-setting night that Rutgers fans provided for our first Big Ten football game.

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Foot injury knocks OU RB Keith Ford out 2-3 weeks

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Just as Oklahoma is set to commence Big 12 play in earnest, the unbeaten Sooners have been hit with their first significant obstacle of the 2014 season.

During a Monday teleconference, head coach Bob Stoops revealed that running back Keith Ford is dealing with a foot injury.  Specifically, Ford has a slight fracture in the foot.

As a result, Stoops said, Ford will be sidelined for the next 2-3 weeks.

Such a timeline means Ford will definitely miss this weekend’s road trip to improved West Virginia.  The silver lining for OU is that it has a bye the weekend of Sept. 27 before the Oct. 4 game against TCU, meaning Ford would miss just two games if the pessimistic end of the prognosis comes to fruition.

It should also mean that Ford will definitely be on the field for Oklahoma’s annual rivalry game against Texas Oct. 11.

Ford currently leads the Sooners with 197 yards and five rushing touchdowns.  He’s also the third-leading receiver with 100 yards on six catches, adding in another touchdown through the air for good measure.

The OU ground game will be in good hands in Ford’s absence, with Samaje Perine (177 yards) and Alex Ross (132) more than capable of handling the load.

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