Oklahoma Sooners junior defensive end D.J. Ward left Saturday night’s game against Louisiana-Monroe after what appeared to be a blow to the head. With the Sooners leading 35-0 midway through the second quarter, Ward headed to the locker room with his helmet still on for what will be further evaluation.
After playing in all 13 games as a sophomore in 2015, Ward collected 14 tackles, in addition to earning a sack and a half and a fumble recovery.
Ward took a beaten path to Oklahoma after sitting out his senior season of high school due to transfer restrictions that kept him on the sidelines. Fortunately for him, he was a four-star recruit and selected as a member of the 2013 U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Despite not taking to the field during his senior year, ESPN still ranked him as the No. 1 player in the state of Oklahoma.
A 6’2″, 265-pound defensive end from Moore, Oklahoma, that was ranked in the ESPNU Top 150, Ward had a slew of offers from other powerhouse programs, that included: Auburn, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, and Arizona. Ultimately, Ward chose to stay in-state and join the Sooners, as opposed to the Cowboys.
The Sooners were on the doorstep of the College Football Playoff last season, losing to Clemson in the semi-finals. Ranked No. 3 in the country pre-season and a favorite to head back to the CFP, Oklahoma was dealt an early gut punch by the upstart Houston Cougars who knocked them off in Week 1. Oklahoma will still have a chance to get back if they prove dominant during the Big 12 slate and having Ward on the field will be a major step forward for a defense that is looking to just slow the opposition down.