OU out, beleaguered recruit says
Four-star offensive tackle Matt Beyer (San Antonio/Reagan) had been mentally preparing for two weeks, but that didn't make the news any easier to take.
Beyer said he was told Tuesday by Oklahoma offensive tackles coach Bruce Kittle that his scholarship offer to Oklahoma will not be honored, Beyer confirmed to SoonerNation on Thursday night.
Beyer, who committed to the Sooners on July 2, has been forced to give up football because he was diagnosed with the spinal-cord condition cervical stenosis about three weeks ago.
Beyer said he was born with the condition, which, according to WebMD.com, causes the spinal canal to narrow and leads to the compression of nerve roots where they leave the spinal cord.
If Beyer had continued playing, there was a chance for permanent quadriplegia down the line, he said doctors had told him.
"I was able to talk to coach Kittle, and it was great to talk to him again," Beyer said. "I asked about my scholarship situation. He said the decision went above his head and as much as he would love to let me keep it, it's not possible."
San Antonio Reagan coach David Wetzel has not been able to contact the OU coaching staff about the situation. And because of NCAA rules, OU is not allowed to comment about the situation involving a recruit who is not signed with the program.
"I've called OU, but I haven't heard back," Wetzel said. "Beyer is the best offensive lineman I've ever coached. Our team has missed his leadership. He is a man of great character and this hasn't been an easy deal for him by any stretch."
Just last week, Florida State honored its scholarships for offensive lineman Richy Klepal, who had to give up football after suffering his fifth concussion. Doctors revealed he had a hemorrhage in his brain.
On Thursday, California Gov. Jerry Brown announced he signed a bill that will mandate financial protections for student-athletes who suffer career-ending injuries at the four universities that receive more than $10 million annually in sports media revenue -- the Pac-12's USC, UCLA, Cal and Stanford. The schools will have to give academic scholarships to students who lose their athletic scholarships if they are injured while playing their sport. They also will have to cover insurance deductibles and pay health-care premiums for low-income athletes, among other provisions.
The Sooners have honored scholarships for recruits with career-ending injuries before. After this year's National Signing Day, it was revealed that a back injury would force tight end signee Laith Harlow to give up football. Harlow was given a medical scholarship and he is now a freshman at OU.
The difference with Harlow, however, was that he already had signed with the school. Beyer, though 100 percent firm with his commitment and love of OU, was only a verbal commit.
"That's kind of what it came down to," said Beyer, who was the Sooners' highest ranked offensive tackle commit. "It wasn't like I was signed. I was just too far away from being able to play. It hurts, but I understand completely."
Beyer informed the OU coaching staff about his condition two weeks ago but had not spoken to any of the coaches until Tuesday. With the Sooners preparing for their showdown against Kansas State, Beyer said he didn't want to disturb them during their preparation.
He said he isn't sure where he is going to go to school now. He said OU might not be an option because of how expensive the out-of-state tuition would be since he will not be getting an athletic scholarship.
He said he has taken preliminary looks at Texas, Texas Tech and Texas A&M. He is well aware of the irony of him ending up in Austin.
"Yeah, I'm not sure about that," Beyer said. "You look in my closet, and I have eight OU shirts. Texas? I have none. I'd like to keep it that way."
Beyer got a chance to see OU's campus during junior day early this spring but never got to experience a game day atmosphere in Norman. He is hopeful that will change.
"That's something I really would like to see. I would love to hear 85,000 fans screaming 'Boomer Sooner' at the top of their lungs," Beyer said.
It still could happen.
"Coach Kittle said he would love for me to come up and get a chance to watch a game," Beyer said. "I'll have to look at the schedule and see when it's possible. It's definitely something I would love to do."
Though Beyer is done playing football, he is not done with the game. He has become a volunteer coach for San Antonio Reagan.
"I call him Coach Beyer now," Wetzel said.
Beyer is helping mentor the younger offensive linemen for the Rattlers and said that has helped him still feel like part of the team.
"It's still a tough adjustment. I don't know if I'll ever fully accept it," Beyer said. "I'm still physically able to play, you know, it's tough.
"But my health is more important. I know it's the right decision. Hopefully OU can get a great offensive tackle with that scholarship. That would be great."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.