NORMAN, Okla. -- Oklahoma was hoping to have the talented quartet of wideout Dorial Green-Beckham, running back Joe Mixon, linebacker Frank Shannon and quarterback Baker Mayfield on the field this season.
Green-Beckham and Mixon have already been ruled out. Mayfield is still waiting to hear whether the NCAA will grant him an eligibility waiver. And Monday, Shannon wasn’t listed in Oklahoma’s Week 1 depth chart.
“I’ve got to proceed with players that I know are going to be available to me through the rest of the year,” coach Bob Stoops said during his first weekly news conference. “So at this point the depth chart is as it is.”
As the Sooners prepare for Saturday’s opener against Louisiana Tech, Stoops wanted to talk about the players that will be on the field this year.
But the dominant story line this preseason has been about the players that won’t be on the field. And it popped up again Monday.
Late last week, the NCAA ruled that Green-Beckham would not qualify for immediate eligibility under the run-off exception after transferring from Missouri.
Stoops said it “hasn’t been decided” whether Green-Beckham will be back with the Sooners in 2015, though Stoops added that “it seems like that he wants to do that and is heading that way.”
But this season, Green-Beckham would have supplied quarterback Trevor Knight with a dangerous receiving weapon on the outside. Instead, the Sooners will be relying on several inexperienced pass-catchers to fill the void at receiver alongside three-year starter Sterling Shepard.
“We’ve got 10 other guys or eight other [receivers] or whatever it is that we’re working with on a daily basis,” Stoops said. “So you work with what’s available to you.”
It doesn’t look like Shannon will be available to the Sooners, either. He’s appealed the university’s decision to suspend him for a year for allegedly violating the school’s code of conduct to a district court. But as long as Shannon remains tied up in legal issues, Oklahoma’s leading tackler last year won’t be part of the plans.
“That situation is still unresolved,” Stoops said.
As of Monday, Mayfield’s situation remains unresolved, as well, forcing the Sooners to move forward with making Cody Thomas their backup quarterback. Thomas redshirted last year, and has been dealing with a muscle strain. That has led former quarterback and current starting tight end Blake Bell to take snaps in practice, as a break-the-glass option, in case of an injury to Knight.
“You obviously want the best for those guys and it hurts to see it go on the opposite side of that line,” Knight said. “You want the best for them and whether or not it works out for them this year, you stay positive with them and hope things will work out in the future.”
As for the present, the Sooners will have to roll with the players currently eligible. That’s still enough to keep them the preseason favorite in the Big 12 and a legitimate contender for the inaugural College Football Playoff.
And while this preseason could have gone better, Stoops is still excited about the players that will be in the game.
“Our guys go to practice every day and the guys on the field have competed in a great way,” Stoops said. “I feel we’re in a great position, ready to start the season.”