Norman, Okla. Just when it seemed as if Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford was ready to make a decision about his future, the injured Oklahoma quarterback decided he needed more time to think about it.
Bradford called off a news conference scheduled for Wednesday night.
Coach Bob Stoops said Bradford needed to gather more information before choosing what to do about his injured right, throwing shoulder.
“He just wasn’t ready to fully answer everything that’ll want to be asked and for sure what he wants to do just yet, until he has a few more people to visit with,” Stoops said after the Sooners’ practice. “That’s it. I won’t say another word about it.”
Bradford was coming off of one of the most prolific passing seasons in NCAA history when he opted to come back for his junior year instead of entering the NFL Draft this year.
He threw for 4,720 yards and 50 touchdowns last season.
Bradford was initially hurt just before halftime in the season opener against BYU and returned to play one full game before being re-injured during Oklahoma’s second drive in a 16-13 loss to No. 3 Texas on Saturday.
Bradford said after the Texas game that he wouldn’t make a decision about his long-term plans until after the season.
He said before re-injuring the shoulder that surgery remained a treatment option.
He was initially diagnosed with a Grade 3 sprain of his AC joint, and Stoops said X-rays and MRIs have shown no new damage.
“Sam’s whole situation, he’ll have something to say when he knows what his path will be, and that isn’t right now,” Stoops said. “I’m not the one to answer it. He will. And I will once he feels he’s ready to and knows for sure what he wants to do.”
Bradford’s primary reason for returning to Oklahoma was to pursue the national championship that he narrowly missed out on last season, when the Sooners lost to Florida in the BCS championship game.
An Oklahoma City native, Bradford has also spoken about how Oklahoma football was practically a professional sport to him as he was growing up.
“I think it’s extremely difficult for him, coming back for all the right reasons, wanting to have an opportunity to go compete on the football field, compete for championships and then having all those things taken away from you,” quarterbacks coach Josh Heupel said. “There’s a lot of hard work that goes into it and when you invest that much, it’s going to be extremely disappointing. It’s not an easy situation for him, certainly.”
The Sooners (3-3, 1-1 Big 12) have fallen out of the national championship race with three early losses by a combined five points against ranked opponents, all away from home.
“I know the time and effort that he’s invested. I know the choice that he made to come back,” Heupel said. “It’s extremely disappointing to see somebody not get the opportunity that they want that they’ve worked for.”
Bradford reaggravated the injury when Longhorns cornerback Aaron Williams clobbered him on a blitz, forcing him to land on top of the shoulder similar to the way he did in the BYU game.
“It wasn’t on purpose and it was unfortunate that he was hurt,” Williams said. “It was a big play, but I would never wish for somebody to get hurt like that. I wish him the best of luck and I send all my blessings to him.”
Heupel said Bradford had improved his arm strength and become bigger and stronger, particularly in his lower body, while trying to improve after winning the Heisman.
“Did he completely accomplish all those things? No, because they’re all a work in progress,” Heupel said. “But I think he certainly got better each and every day that he was here and really focused on a lot of the things he wanted to get better at and did that.”
Heupel didn’t want to speculate on what Bradford’s plans entailed, including whether he would attempt to play again this season.
Stoops has only ruled Bradford out for this Saturday’s game at No. 24 Kansas University.
“What’s going to happen here a week from now or three weeks from now or four weeks from now, I don’t know,” Heupel said. “Those are things that I guess we’ll find out as we go down the road.