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August 1, 2012
Just over a week, Oklahoma starting center Ben Habern walked through the Dallas Westin Galleria lobby during Big 12 Media Days, representing the Oklahoma football team alongside teammates Landry Jones and Demontre Hurst.
Poised for a comeback senior season, Habern answered question after question about the rehab process and if he was ready for a return to the gridiron.
BEN HABERN AT BIG 12 MEDIA DAYS IN DALLAS
"Honestly I'm excited for the season. I'm back and healthy and I've thought we had a great summer as a team during summer workouts. Everybody is working hard and it's to the point where you go through spring ball then summer workouts and you get towards the end of the summer and are just ready for the season," said Habern.
A resounding statement from a player who appeared ready to take on the season ahead.
Today that comeback took a cruel detour, as it was announced Habern's Oklahoma football career is done.
"Our coaching staff knows this was a difficult decision for (him)," said Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops through a university issued statement. "Ben has been a consummate leader for our team, both on and off the field. We appreciate the toughness that Ben displayed, and we wish him the very best as he completes his education at OU."
Habern ends his career with 30 starts and a void at center which most believe will be filled by junior Gabe Ikard, who filled that role over seven games in 2011 after Habern was sidelined with a broken forearm suffered against Missouri.
Wednesday's announcement also means Habern will be denied an opportunity to chase down his goal of winning the Rimington Award, given to the nation's best center.
"It's cool to get that recognition and know that my name is out there for people to see and that's exciting but I use it as motivation to keep working towards and it's always been a goal of mine to win the Rimington," said Habern last week in Dallas.
Habern started all 14 games in 2010 which earned him All-Big 12 honorable mention recognition from the Associated Press as well as being named to ESPN.com's All-Big 12 Freshmen team in 2009.
However, the announcement comes with an asterisk. All three players will only be allowed to return to the practice field while still being suspended indefinitely from participating in games.
Left off the reinstated list is sophomore Kameel Jackson who was the fourth Sooner suspended by Stoops May 9, after violation of team policy.
His status with the team 'will be reviewed at the conclusion of the current academic session' and is yet another set back for Jackson who made headlines at the beginning of the summer.
"Embracing my last week as a Sooner; as I've chosen to transfer and further my education and football career at Texas A&M," tweeted Jackson May 6.
Three days later Jackson, along with Franks, Reynolds and Hayes, were suspended indefinitely.
For Reynolds, a junior, his reinstatement comes at a critical time for Landry Jones and his Sooner receiving corps.
The Houston (Texas) Eisenhower standout ranked No. 3 on the team a season ago hauling in 41 receptions for 715 yards and five touchdowns while his 17.4 yards average per catch lead the Sooners in that category.
Reynolds and Franks return to the practice field will create a sense of depth at a position that welcomes in a host of newcomers in freshmen Trey Metoyer, Durron Neal, Sterling Shepard along with JUCO transfer Lacoltan Bester.
All of this on the heels of Monday's story from SoonerScoop.com in which it was annoucned JUCO 4-star wide receiver Courtney Gardner would be unavailable for the 2012 season after failing to finish his work in the classroom at Sierra College.
"I most likely would have got redshirted this year so I'm staying at Sierra College one more semester taking that one last class," said Gardner in a text to SoonerScoop.com.
"I'm leaving in (January)!"
Gardner cited the timeline of his online courses and his summer school courses for the reasoning behind his late struggles. He said the urgency and the difference in pulling online and traditional classes together just became too big of a hurdle to overcome.
Oklahoma players report Thursday with the first fall practice scheduled to start Friday evening.