The Oklahoma Sooners were set to take on the Iowa Hawkeyes as one of bowl season's biggest favorites, but a run of attrition might whittle that big spread down by a little bit. Monday, coach Bob Stoops announced defensive end Ronnell Lewis won't play in the Insight Bowl due to academics, likely ending the junior's college career.
He's been expected to declare for the NFL Draft soon, and projects as a second-round, pass-rushing tweener in the NFL.
Stoops also confirmed running back Brandon Williams is transferring to Texas A&M and announced seldom-deployed tight end Max Stevenson is leaving the team. That's in addition to a slate of injuries that includes receivers Ryan Broyles and Jaz Reynolds, plus others.
Lewis' exit means OU will be without their second-leading sacker and fifth-leading tackler against Iowa, and those standings are despite time missed due to injury.
Oklahoma blog Crimson and Cream Machine tries to make a case for Lewis to stick around, but mostly throws its hands up:
To be honest there's very little reason for Lewis to stay. The hype that surrounded him after the `09 Sun Bowl was so unreal that he could never have lived up to it. He's an absolute freak of an athlete who possesses the rare combination of speed and size that makes NFL scouts drool. Unfortunately his physical attributes put Oklahoma's defensive coaches at a loss as to where to place him. He eventually landed at defensive end full-time in 2011 where he placed fifth on the team in total tackles with 59 along with 13 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. However, that won't be where he plays at the next level.