The Norman Transcript

October 11, 2012

Sooners’ Saunders declared eligible

By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Oklahoma wide receiver Jalen Saunders started Wednesday afternoon’s practice running Texas’ plays. When it ended, the Sooners’ coaching staff was trying to figure out how Saunders will be used against the Longhorns on Saturday.

It was in the middle of that practice that the NCAA announced that Saunders — a junior transfer from Fresno State — is eligible to play immediately.

“He’s catching up right now, and I anticipate him helping,” OU coach Bob Stoops said about Saunders. “You can’t determine today what he’ll be able to do, but he’s kept himself up with everything we’re doing and he’s a good player. Hopefully, he’ll be able to help and play.”

Saunders had 50 receptions for 1,065 yards and 12 touchdowns and was an All-WAC performer for Fresno State last season.

He transferred to OU in the spring but was expected to sit out this season due to NCAA transfer rules. The NCAA initially ruled Saunders ineligible for the season in early September.

Stoops didn’t say what changed the ruling body’s mind.

“There’s been a lot of information exchanged. Fortunately, they got it all cleared up,” he said.

Outside of the coaching staff, no one knows just how much Saunders will play against Texas. He’s been working with the practice team since the beginning of the season. He’ll join a receiver corps that seems to get deeper every week. OU quarterback Landry Jones completed passes to five different wide receivers in last week’s 41-20 victory over Texas Tech. All of them had at least one reception of 10 yards or longer.

Saunders, 5-foot-9, 160 pounds, figures to blend in with the group.

“Now that we’re gaining confidence with some of these guys and doing all the right things, it allows them to play harder and rotate out and rotate in,” Stoops said. “I believe adding another guy will help.”

Stills, Jefferson honored: OU wide receiver Kenny Stills and safety Tony Jefferson were named to Phil Steele’s 2012 Midseason All-American Team on Wednesday. Stills was selected to the third team, while Jefferson was a fourth-team selection.

Stills ranks fourth in the Big 12 and 14th in the nation with 7.2 receptions per game and ranks fifth in the Big 12 at 86.0 receiving yards per game.

Jefferson leads the Sooners with 30 total tackles (20 solo) this season. The junior is on the watch lists for the Bednarik Award, Thorpe Award, Nagurski Trophy and Walter Camp Award.

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