Senior gets nod to start at tailback for Sooners
Posted: Friday August 22, 2003 2:17PM; Updated: Friday August 22, 2003 2:29PM
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) -- After three seasons of patience and an offseason of opportunity, senior tailback Renaldo Works finally gets his chance to start for the Oklahoma Sooners.
Works earns the starting nod for the No. 1-ranked Sooners after a competition with sophomores Kejuan Jones and Donta Hickson that started in the spring and continued through the first two weeks of fall two-a-day practices.
He'll begin his quest to fill the role vacated by Quentin Griffin in the season opener against North Texas on Aug. 30.
"We're set to go into game week starting Renaldo Works. He's looked very good in everything," coach Bob Stoops said following Thursday night's practice. "He's made big plays, he's an excellent protector and he's taking care of the ball."
The selection of Works was a mild surprise considering that Jones ran for 613 yards and an OU-record 14 touchdowns as the Sooners' short-yardage specialist last season. Both backs played behind Griffin, who had the second-best rushing season in OU history with 1,884 yards.
Works, meanwhile, started out 2002 with a bang and ended it with a thud.
In the second game of the season against Alabama, Works keyed a Sooners' fourth-quarter rally by turning two shovel passes into long gains. OU went on to win 37-27.
From that point on, Works rarely left the bench. He finished the year with just 152 yards and two touchdowns on 34 carries and five receptions for 98 yards and another score.
But as fall camp began, the 6-foot-1, 220-pounder looked primed to seize the starting spot. He ran with more force than at any other point in his career, coaches said throughout the preseason.
Works flashed his speed, too, including a 43-yard run to the 1-yard line in one scrimmage. He finished that scrimmage with 84 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries while Jones ran for 43 yards on nine carries and had a fumble.
So for now, Works has won the most high-profile battle for a starting spot on the nation's top-ranked team. Stoops cautioned that Works still has to prove he deserves the position throughout the season.
"Kejuan has [looked good] too and the other guys are getting better," Stoops said. But "to this point, Renaldo has been the most consistent and made the most plays."