NORMAN — It didn’t take Austin Haywood long to find a new home. Less than three months after quitting the Oklahoma football team, the Southmoore High alum enrolled at the University of Central Arkansas looking for a fresh start.
“I sent an email out to every school in this division ,basically,” Haywood said. “And they e-mailed me back around the first of January. I went up there two weeks before school started, then made my decision two days before school started, around Jan. 10.”
In choosing a new school, Haywood said he didn’t want to have to sit out a year,. He wanted to play outside of his home state of Oklahoma and wanted an offense that would utilize his skills as a pass-catching tight end. The Bears fit every category.
“Wasn’t considering any others schools,” Haywood said. “It’s far, but not that far. It’s only four hours away from home. So, it’s not that bad. But there were no other schools in this division that were close, besides Sam Houston. But I didn’t feel like I would fit their program and offense. They run the ball too much for me.”
The Bears also did their homework in researching Haywood. It included talking to his high school coaches and to members of the Sooners program. UCA coach Clint Conque wanted as much information on why Haywood left OU in order to talk to him about it and his expectations at UCA.
"It was addressed directly," Conque said. "We are all human. We all make mistakes. But we live in a society of second opportunities. But his situation at Oklahoma was addressed directly."
Because Central Arkansas is a Football Championship Subdivision program, transferring there prevents Haywood from having to sit out a season, which he would have to have done if he went to a Football Bowl Subdivision program. The sophomore has two seasons of eligibility remaining since he didn’t burn a redshirt at OU.