COLUMN: Are OU's high-profile returning seniors cursed?
We're 25 days from college football's opening kickoff, and the Oklahoma Sooners already will be out a key player.
Senior linebacker Travis Lewis is out eight weeks with a broken foot, OU coach Bob Stoops announced Tuesday.
Lewis, the unquestioned leader of the OU defense, broke a bone in his left foot during practice. The injury will not require surgery, needing only rest and immobilization, OU trainer Scott Anderson said.
This begs the question: Are OU star players who forgo the draft to return for their senior seasons cursed?
Comparisons between this 2011 squad and the 2009 team were already prevalent, and Lewis' injury only amps up the similarities.
The 2009 Sooners were preseason No. 1 with Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford and star tight end Jermaine Gresham back for their senior seasons.
Then, prior to the start of the season, Gresham suffered a knee injury, putting his OU future in doubt. Surgery a couple weeks later made sure he would never wear OU crimson again.
Then, on the forsaken field at Jerry World, Slingin' Sammy B (if I can be so bold as to borrow the awesome nickname from The Oklahoman's Berry Tramel) injured his throwing shoulder.
It's impossible to dispel the feeling that Lewis' injury might be the first step of a cyclical repeat of 2009's injury woes.
Am I saying senior wide receiver Ryan Broyles, who opted to return for his senior season with Lewis, should wear an extra set of pads against Tulsa on Sept. 3 to avoid a Bradford-esque injury? Not yet, though that wouldn't be a bad idea.
Lest you forget, Gerald McCoy and Trent Williams also came back to chase a championship in 2009. Let's not put Broyles in a padded cell for protection too hastily.
I have tremendous respect for players — like Bradford, Gresham, McCoy, Williams, Lewis, Broyles and Stanford's Andrew Luck — who put untold millions of NFL dollars on hold to take one last shot at the big one with their teammates (and, in most cases, finish that valuable college degree). The last thing I'd want is for a player considering a return to reject it based on the track record of injuries at OU.
The silver lining here is OU has a chance to prove just how deep it is at linebacker. Lewis' shoes are big ones to fill, but Stoops and Co. seem confident the players waiting in the wings — most notably Corey Nelson — are more than capable to step up.
Plus, as long as I've done my math right, eight weeks puts Lewis back in game-ready condition just in time for OU-Texas.
Do I think there's a curse? No. But Broyles, please don't throw down a touchdown celebration that might have you leaving the field on a stretcher (see: Adrian Peterson).
— James Corley, journalism senior