Catching up with the latest at Big 12 Media Days

John Shinn, Staff Writer
Sooner Scoop

FRISCO, Texas — Oklahoma safety Will Sunderland remains suspended from the team. Head coach Lincoln Riley said the chance of Sunderland returning to the team are low.

Sunderland was charged with felony burglary in Cleveland County last month and faces a misdemeanor charge of possession of stolen property in Oklahoma County. Both charges stem from the robbery of a Headington Hall dorm room in March.

“He’s still indefinitely suspended. He hasn’t done anything with our team since we announced that,” Riley said Monday at Big 12 Media Days. “I would go as far to say that if he’s not exonerated, he won’t be back.”

As far as replacing Sunderland, who exited the spring as the heir apparent to Ahmad Thomas at free safety, Sunderland singled out senior Will Johnson as the leader.

“Will Johnson has had a great summer. It was probably his best summer as far as being totally bought in and being healthy. We’re really excited about his progress,” Riley said. “Kahlil Haughton is another guy that’s played snaps for us and played on special teams and we think can help. We like the two young guys quite a bit. We’ll see what Robert Barnes and Ryan Jones and a couple of those guys can do. We have some good options.

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Sporting the bling: Quarterback Baker Mayfield, linebacker Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, safety Steven Parker and tackle Orlando Brown all wore last season’s Big 12 championship rings to Monday’s event.

Okoronkwo said Mayfield came up with the idea early Monday morning.

“He’s sent us a text at about 6 a.m. to wear them,” Okoronkwo said. “Coach Riley laughed when he saw all of us had them on.”

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Robison returning: Freshman quarterback Chris Robison was excused from summer school and summer workouts and returned to Mesquite, Texas for the summer.

Mayfield said Robison is expected to return to the team next week.

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Murray’s return: Sophomore quarterback Kyler Murray spent the summer playing baseball for the Harwich Mariners in the Cape Cod League.

“He’s been living that beach lifestyle up in Cape Cod,” Mayfield said. “I talked to him a little bit. Seems like he enjoyed it. I know he’s ready to get back into football. I’m sure he’s tired of being up there in beautiful weather and ready to get back to Oklahoma heat.

Murray played his final game for the Harwich Mariners on July 5. He batted .170 with one home run and five RBIs in 16 games.

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Family trait: Lincoln Riley’s younger brother, Garrett, is Kansas’ quarterbacks coach this season. The Riley brothers share a trait with both making quick ascensions up the coaching ladder.

“I don't know exactly what you attribute it to,” Lincoln Riley said. “I mean, I was lucky to get a start young enough at Texas Tech and then help — you know, I had some people that helped open some doors for me to get me that opportunity. And then I was able to do the same thing for him as a player, and he's taken it and ran with it and done a great job in his own right.

“So I think we've both worked hard and grew up in a great family for it, but also we've been fortunate to have some early opportunities.”

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Running back depth: Riley admits replacing departed running backs Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon is a preseason task.

The OU coach remains high on sophomore Rodney Anderson. However, missing all but two games due to injury since the start of the 2015 season due to season-ending injuries has kept Anderson’s talents behind the curtain.

“He’s had to fight through a ton. He's a great, great worker. He stacks up there physically as good as anybody we've had at that position, including Joe and Samaje. We know he's got to prove it on the field,” Riley said.

Riley expects more from Abdul Adams, who rushed for 283 yards as a freshman last season.

“Had a great spring, was one of our most-improved players,” Riley added. “I think he'll do well in the mix, as well as Marcelius Sutton, a junior college player we signed, went through spring ball with us. He's a little bit smaller, got a little bit of explosiveness to him.

“And the two freshmen we signed, Trey Sermon and Kennedy Brooks. These are guys that you know if a freshman is going to be ready, but you pop on the tape of those guys, and you see what we've seen physically and you see some hints they may be.”

Sermon arrived on campus in January. Brooks entered the fold over the summer.

“We're going to have an open mind about it. It's as wide open as it can be,” Riley said. “We'll play the best guy whether it's one guy getting most of the carries, two guys like last year, or even as much as three or four.”

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