Sooners could play fourth center
NORMAN, Okla. -- Ten days before Oklahoma faces Stanford in the Brut Sun Bowl, coach Bob Stoops said Monday that center Brian Lepak could miss the bowl game with a sprained knee, putting the Sooners in position to start a fourth player at center this season.
"He just got rolled up. We were in our inside drill, and somebody -- we have knee braces on and all -- just rolled into him," Stoops said. "It's a sprain, unsure of the degree. We'll just have to see."
Lepak, a transfer from Colorado State, became the starter after Ben Habern and converted tight end Brody Eldridge were both lost for the season with injuries. Eldridge suffered a neck injury last month and Habern broke his left leg in the Sooners' next-to-last game of the regular season at Texas Tech.
Jarvis Jones, who split time between guard and tackle, is also out for the season while left tackle Trent Williams is expected to return after missing the regular-season finale against Oklahoma State with a concussion. Tackle Donald Stephenson has been ineligible the whole season.
"I don't count them," Stoops said. "I'm done counting. Too many."
Another tight end, Eric Mensik, was moved from tight end to start at tackle after Williams was hurt and he could be staying there at least through the Dec. 31 bowl game in El Paso, Texas.
"We're unsure about Brian. If he can't play, then we'll in all likelihood have Trent Williams at center and Cory Brandon and Eric Mensik at the tackles," Stoops said.
The possibility of Williams moving to center was raised as early as the preseason, when Habern missed time with a back injury and Lepak out with a high ankle sprain. Instead, Eldridge was moved from tight end and started the year there. He moved to guard after Habern returned, only for both to eventually be lost for the season.
Williams went on to be chosen as an All-American at left tackle but now could be making a switch to center.
"I don't know if it's fair to say it's easy, but he's worked there through the year just for depth purposes," Stoops said. "He's an excellent football player. I know it'll give us a major presence wherever he's at, so hopefully it'll work."
Stoops also announced that middle linebacker Ryan Reynolds had lost his appeal to the NCAA for a hardship waiver that would have allowed him an extra year of eligibility due to injuries.
Stoops also said offensive lineman Jeff Vinson, a junior college transfer who hadn't played for the Sooners, and receiver Jameel Owens planned to transfer.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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