NORMAN — Oklahoma football coach Lincoln Riley told ESPN's Mike Golic Jr. and Trey Wingo on Thursday that several OU players have either been exposed or tested positive for COVID-19.
That's not a surprise to him or others. As teams return across the nation for workouts, positive cases among players have been common. Texas announced earlier in the day that 13 football players have tested positive.
"Listen, nobody’s been immune to this," Riley said. "We’ve had a player or two that has either been exposed or tested positive to this thing, like everyone else has. The difference is our players aren’t here together, so they haven't exposed or potentially infected players here."
Eventually, as Riley acknowledged, his team must reconvene. OU's return to voluntary activities on campus begins July 1, with a plan in place for quarantining infected players.
Each player will be required to take an initial COVID-19 test. It's uncertain how frequently tests will occur after that.
OU chose a later date to return than others as a means of gathering more information about the pandemic.
Riley touted that decision, not to chide other schools' choices, but because it's allowed time for more conversations with medical professionals and experts.
"I do feel like we’re more educated (now, than) had we brought our guys in even as little as a week ago; there’s less that we would have known," Riley said. "So I do feel like we’ve been more educated. Does that mean it’s going be 100 percent? No. But I feel like we're more prepared on two fronts."
One of those fronts is general preparation related to the virus. The other, which Riley didn't expound on, has to do with the civil rights movement taking place in the United States.
"I don’t want to go into a ton of details, but to prepare, with what’s gone on with the racial injustice issue across our country, to prepare and make sure we have the best environment as possible when our guys get back to town as well," he said.
• Finch charged with felony: Former OU running back Roy Finch was charged with one felony count of assault and battery “resulting in great bodily harm,” according to court documents filed in Cleveland County on Wednesday. OU Daily first reported the news.
According to the Norman Police Department report, the assault occurred Tuesday when Finch allegedly struck the victim in the face, resulting in jaw fractures. Finch is also charged with attempting to interfere with an emergency call. A protective order was filed against him Tuesday.
Finch is awaiting a jury trial in October stemming from assault and battery charges on a police officer in Oklahoma County in April 2018.
From 2010-13 he compiled 1,412 rushing yards and six touchdowns with the Sooners. As a kick returner he tied OU’s longest return with a 100-yard TD against Kansas in 2012.
• Six weeks: Riley has “zero concern” about his team returning July 1 for voluntary workouts, with an extended preseason set to begin weeks later.
The extra two weeks, granted by the NCAA, will allow teams to hold walk-throughs before preseason camps begin.
“I think it’s a good plan,” he told ESPN. “It gives us a little more access to players two weeks before practice. These guys are going to be in good shape. The last two weeks will help us make up for basically missing our entire spring practice period. Barring a bunch of major outbreaks, I think it’s without a doubt enough time to play.”
• QB chatter: Redshirt freshman and former five-star prospect Spencer Rattler has kept pace in the Heisman Trophy odds, despite the fact that OU hasn’t named him its starting quarterback yet.
Asked if he’s already planning a December trip to New York, Riley reminded Golic and Wingo that redshirt sophomore Tanner Mordecai will get his chance at a starting spot.
“This is a different year for us quarterback-wise,” Riley said. “We had Baker Mayfield for three years and had a great run with him. It’s been so many years in a row we’ve had senior quarterbacks (Mayfield, Kyler Murray, Jalen Hurts). We’re excited for the potential of having a quarterback for multiple years.”