DeMarcus Granger was at a crossroads in mid September.
The Oklahoma defensive tackle worked his way out the doghouse following his suspension from last season’s Fiesta Bowl. Then, two games and a little less than two quarters into the season, he felt a very sharp pain in his left foot during the Sooners’ Sept. 14 game at Washington.
Torn ligaments seriously threatened to put him back on the sidelines for the rest of the season and brought a choice. Undergo surgery and the injury would heal fine, but the season was over. He could play with the pain and wait until the end of the year to fix it.
“My first decision was not to get the surgery,” Granger said. “My mother and everybody else told me to go with my first gut feeling and that was my first gut feeling and I feel I made the right decision.”
It appears he did.
“He’s a guy that can take a lot of pain,” defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said. “He lives to play this game; it’s his life. There wasn’t any doubt he was going to do whatever he had to do get back as quickly as he could.”
It means playing with pain. Even though he returned against Texas, Granger was still on crutches most of the time. When he practiced, getting into a three-point stance caused a sharp pain to run through his foot. Extra running was ruled out to avoid the additional stress on the injury.
Still, he’s managed to be productive.
“He’s getting better and better,” OU defensive coordinator Brent Venables said. “He’s getting back to the kind of shape he wants to be in and needs to be in. Obviously he’s more than serviceable. He’s been playing well.”
There was plenty of debate whether Granger would play at all this season. After he was arrested for shoplifting at Tempe, Ariz., shopping mall a few days before the Fiesta Bowl, his status with the team was up in the air.
He still doesn’t want to discuss it.
“It was a mistake. I apologized,” he said. “I’m just happy to be back playing at the university.”
OU needs him to play well this week against Texas A&M.; This will be an odd week by Big 12 standards. The Aggies are one of the few teams that still runs a traditional offense. They still huddle and still like to run the ball between the tackles with a lead blocker.
It’s the kind of game the 6-foot-2, 300-pound Dallas native usually thrives in.
“He’s a run stuffer and a run stopper,” McCoy said. “This is going to be a big game for him. This is exactly what he likes to do and exactly what he’s good at.”
make semifinal cuts
OU quarterback Sam Bradford, defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and coach Bob Stoops were named semifinalists for the 72nd Maxwell Award, the 14th Chuck Bednarik Award and the 20th George Munger Award, respectively, Wednesday by the Maxwell Football Club.
The respective lists include a field of 15 candidates for each of the awards selected by the Maxwell Football Club Advisory Committee. The announcement of the winners of the Maxwell and Bednarik Awards will be made during the Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards Show Dec. 11.
Bradford set an NCAA record for touchdown passes during freshman/sophomore seasons with 70 TDs and is looking to become the third player in OU history to earn the Maxwell honor and the first since Jason White in 2004. Tommy McDonald also won the award in 1956.
McCoy is a sophomore defensive tackle who has four sacks over the last three games. Only one OU player in program history has won the Bednarik Award as Teddy Lehman took home the honor in 2003.
It’s very likely that some of the Sooners’ assistant coaches will get serious looks at head coaching jobs following the regular season. Wednesday Kansas State announced Ron Prince is out after three seasons, making it the third major program to fire a coach within the last several weeks. Tennessee and Clemson also have openings.
Stoops said he wouldn’t be talking about any of them.
“If they do, they do,” he said Wednesday night when specifically asked about one of his assistants going to Kansas State. “I have always encouraged my guys, put my guys in front of anybody, not just there. You’re starting a story when there isn’t one now. I’m not going there. My guys are open to everybody in the country. That’s pretty obvious. I’ve had quite a few go on. I’ve got no problem with it if they do.”
DeMarcus Granger was at a crossroads in mid September.
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