If you're a college football coach, it never hurts to have another weapon at your disposal when you're heading into one of the biggest games on your schedule. It appears that will be the case for Oklahoma as they get set to take on Texas in Dallas this weekend.
The Oklahoma coaching staff learned during practice on Wednesday that Fresno State transfer wide receiver, Jalen Saunders, had finally been ruled immediately eligible by the NCAA.
Saunders submitted a waiver prior to the season hoping to become eligible to play this season following his departure from Fresno State after Pat Hill was replaced as their head coach. He didn't feel like he fit into new coach Tim DeRuyter's system and off to Norman he went.
So why now? Who knows, the NCAA works in mysterious ways when it comes to these types of waivers. It's hard to imagine his situation changed any from then until now, but that's all water under the bridge with Wednesday news although it does make you wonder why the decision took so long causing him to miss a third of the season.
According to NewsOK, Bob Stoops didn't waste any time getting him running with the top two units in practice once he received the news. He immediately moved Saunders up from the practice squad to start working with Landry Jones and the rest of the OU offense.
“He’s played a lot of football and played it well,” Stoops said. “We’re hopeful that he will be able to play (on Saturday). He’s quick, got a great sense of space and the ability to get open.”
How much he'll be able to help OU's offense on Saturday is anybody's guess considering he'll have had all of two practices under his belt this week. He did, however, work with Oklahoma's top units during fall camp while OU was unsure of what his fate would be and made a big impression along the way.
Saunders was a star for the Bulldogs hauling in 50 catches for 1,065 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. That's in addition to the 30 catches he totaled as a freshman in 2010.
He'll join a group of OU receivers that include Kenny Stills, Penn State transfer Justin Brown, along with true freshmen Sterling Shepard and Trey Metoyer.
Saunders will be wearing jersey number 14 on Saturday against the Longhorns. Keep an eye on him if indeed does see the field. He's only 5'9" and 160 pounds but he's a big play waiting to happen.
It wouldn't be shocking to see Oklahoma's offensive coaches develop a package of plays for him hoping to get him out in space, but then again, with only one full practice left this week, how much of an impact he can make in a short period of time is anyone's guess. Just the possibility that he could play Saturday, however, gives the Texas coaching staff one more thing to prepare for on Saturday.