NORMAN — Oklahoma defensive end D.J. Ward has finally been cleared by the NCAA. The freshman participated in his first practice Tuesday.
“I’m really excited for D.J. It’s been a long process, but fortunately he’s been cleared to practice,” OU coach Bob Stoops said after Tuesday’s practice. “He has to spend two days in just helmets. So he couldn’t do much. But he did fundamental work in learning the defense.”
The two practices Ward will spend without pads come prior to OU’s annual Red/White Spring Game at 2 p.m. Saturday at Owen Field.
Ward, who graduated from Southmoore in December, has been held out of the initial 11 spring practices and offseason workouts with the team while the NCAA made its determination on his eligibility.
Ward, a four-star recruit, didn’t play football last fall because the OSSAA ruled him ineligible after he transferred from Douglas High School in Oklahoma City to Southmoore in August. Ward attended Lawton High School prior to transferring to the Oklahoma City school.
Ward’s status has been in limbo since enrolling at OU in January.
“I’m not pointing fingers that it should have happened sooner. Anymore with eligibility and with classes being taken sometimes in different ways, they have to make sure it’s correct,” Stoops said. “It is now, so we’ll move forward.”
There’s going to be a lot of rust that needs to be knocked off. The spring game will be Ward’s first game-like outing since his junior year of high school in 2011.
“I imagine there will be some (rust),” Stoops said. “Although it comes to him pretty natural. But yeah, that’s fair to say there will be some. It will take him a little while to get back into that kind of shape and get a feel for it.”