NewsOK: Oklahoma City News, Sports, Weather & Entertainment

Ronnell Lewis’ Eligibility Boosts OU

{/literal}{include file="blk:carlsonblog_header"}{literal}

Ronnell Lewis is good to go this season.

Good news for the Sooners.

The Oklahoma defensive end was finally declared eligible earlier today after months of speculation about his future. Would he pass the classes needed? Would he do what needed to be done to compete this season?

Less than 72 hours before the opener, we got our answer.

That Lewis is going to be able to play is a big boost for the Sooners. I said as much during a radio interview earlier today on KOZN, Omaha’s big sports station — you can hear the entire Sooner-laden interview by clicking the play button below — but the more I think about it, the more important I believe the Lewis ruling is.

And it’s not so much what he’s going to do on the field.

Yes, that part of the equation is important. He is going to start at defensive end on a line that needs all the depth and talent that it can muster. He is going to play on the kickoff coverage team, a unit that he dominates with his massive, full-speed tackles. The Sooners will benefit from all of that.

But more than anything, the benefit from not getting any more bad news about the defense.

Obviously, the worst of that news was the death of Austin Box earlier this summer. The Sooners are still reeling from that loss, and it will be an undercurrent for everything that they do this season.

But since practice started, Travis Lewis broke his toe and was sidelined for an unknown amount of time. Doctors say eight weeks. Lewis says he’ll be back for the Florida State game on Sept. 17. Regardless, the Sooners are playing shorthanded when Lewis is on the sideline. He is a hard-charging aggressor. He is an emotional leader.

Had the Sooner defense been forced to face the loss of another big-time contributor, it would’ve really started to wear on these guys. Sure, Ronnell Lewis has capable backups. David King sounds like a guy who is going to bring it this season. Geneo Grissom is another star in the making. But none of those guys is as good as The Hammer; if they were, they’d be starting instead of him.

Lose him to grade problems, and the psychological toll would’ve been significant. Players would start to expect the worst. What’s next? Who’s next?

It’s hard to play top-level football when you have that kind of cloud hanging over your head.

The Hammer getting eligible stops a string of bad news for the defense, which is great news for the Sooners.


1 Show / Hide Archive Comments

{/literal}{include file="blk:carlsonblog_bottom"}{literal} {/literal}{include file="blk:carlsonblog_rail"}{literal}
Jenni Carlson

Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football... Read more ›