Sooners will be shorthanded for tonight's opener
BY GUERIN EMIG World Sports Writer
Saturday, September 01, 2012
9/01/12 at 10:39 AM
EL PASO, Texas – It appears the Oklahoma Sooners will be down a few players when they take the field for tonight's season opener at UTEP.
The World has confirmed the indefinite suspension of tight end Geneo Grissom, a development first reported by SoonerScoop.com. According to a source familiar with the situation, Grissom was suspended for violation of an unspecified team rule.
Grissom is listed as a potential starter on OU's depth chart, along with Taylor McNamara and Brannon Green. He is the second potential starter suspended from the opener.
Defensive tackle Stacy McGee, expected to be in the defensive tackle rotation with Casey Walker and Jamarkus McFarland, was suspended for violation of university policy two weeks ago.
Two other players are not expected to be in uniform El Paso Friday night for different reasons. Wide receiver Jalen Saunders is still awaiting a ruling from the NCAA on his eligiblity waiver request, while Walker is dealing with a non-football related personal issue.
Coach Bob Stoops was unsure if Walker would play when he last met reporters Wednesday after practice, but SoonerScoop.com reported late Friday Walker did not make the trip to El Paso.
The personnel issues should affect the Sooners' defense much more than their offense. The absence of both Walker and McGee means defensive end David King can count on spending all of his time at tackle against UTEP. Before Walker's developement, OU planned to use King at both positions.
Now, he'll start alongside McFarland at tackle, bumping up redshirt freshman Jordan Phillips to the Sooners' top reserve. It also means defensive ends R.J. Washington and Chuka Ndulue, two players with experience but without a career start between them, must hold down their position, backed by young, untested players.
Saunders, an 1,000-yard receiver for Fresno State a year ago, did not appear on OU's two-deep at wide receiver this week.
Grissom did, but so did McNamara and Green. Stoops seemed to indicate recently Grissom had separated himself from the other two, but tight ends coach Bruce Kittle was less definitive.
"They're all doing a good job," he said, "and they all have different strengths."
The Sooners could also flank fullback Trey Millard on the edge of their line should they need more muscle near the tight end position.
After spending his first two years at OU at defensive end, Grissom requested the move to offense following spring practice. It seemed to be working out, at least before the suspension.
"He's got hands probably the size of mine, and he can run," wide receiver Trey Metoyer said. "So if you ask me, I say that's a freak. We really need him."