Oklahoma fans had to be disappointed to learn receiver Courtney Gardner will not wear a Sooners uniform this fall. The junior college signee would have brought a terrific combination size, speed and athleticism to Norman.
Yet, at the same time, it’s hard to miss something you never had.
While his teammates were handling their responsibilities within the program -- from spring football to summer workouts -- Gardner spent the spring and summer focused on academics. It was not a foregone conclusion that he would have made a major impact in this fall. He would have had to make a smooth transition into the program to become a playmaker in 2012. It’s not unheard of -- see Trey Metoyer, for example -- but it’s not easy either.
Now, Gardner gets to finalize his academics and will have a full spring and summer to get comfortable with the demands of the program before putting on the crimson and cream in 2013.
For this year’s receiving corps, Gardner’s absence is important but it is lessened by LaColtan Bester’s arrival and the possible return of Jaz Reynolds. Bester appears to be clear to join the Sooners this fall and there are signs pointing toward Reynolds' eventual return to the squad at some point this season.
OU has signed six receivers since February and will be counting on several of those newcomers to make plays this fall. True freshman Sterling Shepard is already making a name for himself, fellow frosh Durron Neal could have an impact and head coach Bob Stoops continues to have high praise for Bester.
The Sooners have seven scholarship receivers on the current roster (without Reynolds, but including Fresno State transfer Jalen Saunders, who is unlikely to receive a waiver to play immediately), so depth will be the main concern.
If the injury bug hits the Sooners' receiving corps, that’s when Gardner’s absence could really come into play.