The Norman Transcript

November 26, 2013

Backlash backtrack

By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — When Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said running back Damien Williams had been kicked off the team on Monday, former teammates Tony Jefferson and Kenny Stills took to Twitter the same day to voice their displeasure.

Both insinuated Stoops had made a bad decision considering where Williams, a senior, was at in his career and with an NFL career in front of him.

Both backed away from that stance Tuesday.

Jefferson called into WWLS-AM Tuesday afternoon and told host Jim Traber his Tweets on Monday had been misconstrued.

“What I was saying was from the standpoint of a guy who grew up with Damien and who recruited him to Oklahoma, it was disheartening to find he’d been kicked off the team. What I know from Damien and the hard work he’s put in, it was disheartening to see that,” said Jefferson who grew up in the San Diego area along with Williams and Stills.

“I recruited Damien to Oklahoma. If I didn’t like how the program was running or how things were going, I would not have guys — especially my friends — go to a school like that.”

Jefferson said when he first heard Williams had been dismissed from the team, he did not know the full context. Stoops has not given a reason for the dismissal, but a source close to the program said Williams violated a university policy and his removal was beyond Stoops’ control.

“When I heard the news, I wasn’t saying it was the staff. The stuff that happened is not even from the immediate staff; it’s from higher ground,” Jefferson said. “I was upset. Maybe it wasn’t Bob Stoops who made the decision, but it happened and I was upset. Most of my Tweets were based on what I had seen right away. They were hot-head Tweets.”

Stills also Tweeted Monday that OU’s coaching staff was trying to diminish Williams’ draft stock.

“Never seen a staff put so much effort into trying to sabotage people’s careers,” he Tweeted.

Tuesday he deleted the Tweet and sent out this one.

“I apologize for using Twitter to vent yesterday,” Stills Tweeted Tuesday night. “A lot gets lost in translation when you communicate 140 characters at a time. I love OU and our fans and the last thing I want to be is a distraction to the team. Especially as they prepare for OkState. As always, appreciate you guys.”

Ford returns to practice: OU offensive coordinator said freshman running back Keith Ford has returned to practice this week. The freshman, who has averaged 5.9 yards per carry, suffered an ankle injury in the Baylor game and has not played in the last two games.

His return gives OU a three-back rotation with Ford joining seniors Brennan Clay and Roy Finch as potential ball carriers for the Oklahoma State game.

Wanna get away? OU will practice today and then take a four-day break for Thanksgiving. Quarterback Trevor Knight is looking forward to the break.

“I think it’ll be nice to get away from it for a few days, eat some turkey and spend time with family,” he said. “I haven’t been home in quite a while. Once we get back it will be a regular game week and we’re gonna hit it strong.”

Shepard’s value: One boost the offense received against Kansas State was the return of sophomore receiver Sterling Shepard. He caught a 12-yard touchdown pass on the game’s opening drive. It was his first catch since suffering a concussion against Baylor Nov. 7. Heupel said Shepard’s value extends beyond the passing game.

“You lose Sterling, you have to shuffle your pieces of the puzzle around more than you want to. Having him back was a big help for us,” he said. “Just his consistency, his ability to make plays inside, the way he competes in the run game, it changes a 5-yard run into at 10, 15, bigger than that a lot.”

John Shinn

Follow me @john_shinn

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