Nationwide spike in COVID cases to impact Sooners

Richard R. Barron | The Ada NewsA masked Oklahoma Sooners head football coach Lincoln Riley holds up the Big 12 Championship trophy after the Sooners defeated the Iowa State Cyclones 27-21 last year at the Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

NORMAN — Like last year, the effects of the coronavirus will be felt throughout college football this season.

The only question remaining is how much.

OU coach Lincoln Riley addressed the recent increase in virus cases during local media day Thursday, making it clear that the team’s operations will again include COVID protocols.

“We all felt like this was over, or close to being over, and it’s not over,” Riley said. “We are taking a lot of precautions.”

Riley didn’t detail the specifics of those protocols, but they will be different for vaccinated and unvaccinated players.

The NCAA released its latest health and safety recommendations earlier this week, recommending weekly testing and 14-day quarantines for unvaccinated players who are deemed to be in close contact with a positive case. Vaccinated players don’t need be tested routinely, per NCAA’s recommendations.

All players, regardless of vaccination status, are expected to wear masks during team travel and while in indoor settings.

During Big 12 Media Days last month, Riley said a “significant” amount of the team has been vaccinated, and that players rushed to get vaccinated after golfer Jon Rahm’s withdrawal from the Memorial Tournament earlier this summer due to exposure to COVID.

“I commend our team. I think we’ve done a great job up to this point of getting a high, high percentage of our building vaccinated so we’re in a good place there,” Riley said. “But at the same time, it’s gonna be a factor this season, just like last year. It’s gonna be something we have to overcome. We’re certainly not taking it lightly right now.”

Conferences are expected to release COVID-19 policies before the college football season starts in a few weeks.

• Sooners land commitment from 2023 4-star tight end Luke Hasz: Oklahoma’s 2023 recruiting class continues to impress.

4-star tight end announced his commitment to the Sooners via Twitter Friday, marking the third prospect the Sooners have landed for the 2023 class.

The 6’3 tight end from Bixby is the 2nd ranked tight end in the class and the 55th overall prospect, per 247sports.

Bixby helped lead Bixby to the 6A-II state championship last season, recording 32 catches for 702 yards and nine touchdowns in his sophomore season.

Hasz also received offers from Alabama, LSU, Ohio State, Texas and Oklahoma State.

Hasz joins 5-star quarterback Malachi Nelson and 4-star running back Treyaun Webb in Oklahoma’s 2023 class. The class currently ranks No. 1 in the country.

• Trevon West rejoins the Sooners: Lincoln Riley announced Thursday that the wide receiver Trevon West is back with the team.

“He dealt with some personal things this spring but he’ll be back with us and ready to go, so we’re excited to have him back in the program,” Riley said. “[He] did some nice things for us last year on the field.

The former 2020 3-star receiver appeared in eight games last season, recording four catches for 59 yards.

• Healthy roster: Riley said nearly everyone is healthy and a “full go” for the start of fall camp.

The only exception is Ethan Lane, a long snapper who will be limited with a knee injury.

Fall camp began Friday.

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