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August 2, 2012

OU Football: Habern ends career due to injury

(Continued)

The roster announcement confirms the Sooners will likely head into the season extremely thin at wide receiver. Junior Kenny Stills is the only receiver who has started a college football game. Freshmen Trey Metoyer, Durron Neal and Sterling Shepard and junior college transfer LaColton Bester will have to play major roles this season.

“We’ll be better at receiver than everybody thinks,” Stoops said. “Everybody just relax. We have to go out and coach them.”

Stoops said Bester arrived in Norman on Wednesday and cornerback freshman Gary Simon is expected to arrive in Norman today. That was welcome news after it became official that Gardner and Latu won’t be playing for OU.

Habern’s decision to end his career is the move that seemed to come out of nowhere. The senior joined quarterback Landry Jones and cornerback Demontre Hurst at Big 12 Football Media Days in Dallas on July 23. Habern certainly didn’t act like his career was in jeopardy when he met with reporters.

“(OU team physician Dr. Brock) Schnabel is an amazing doctor. He’s done a few of my surgeries. I have complete trust in him,” Habern said. “To know exactly what he did and how he fixed it, to know what’s in my neck now is completely safe and everything’s healed up, it’s good.”

The coaching staff just found out about Habern’s updated status a few days ago.

Last season, OU moved All-Big 12 guard Gabe Ikard to center after Habern suffered the arm injury. There’s actually pretty good depth at the center and guard spots for the Sooners to withstand Habern’s sudden departure.

“It’s horrible. Ben has his best interests at heart,” Ikard said Wednesday night. “It’s one of those things where when you lose your best lineman, it’s horrible for him and horrible for the team. He’s taking care of his health and making the right decision.

“I assume I’ll be at center all of two-a-days now.”

Stoops said Ikard is correct.

“I’m gonna miss Ben, but we have other guys on the line with experience. It’s the most experienced position we have on the team,” Stoops said. “In that regard, it will be OK.

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