Mike Reed can’t really be faulted for a college football career that never panned out at Oklahoma.
Reed was a 5-star junior college linebacker at Yuba College in California, a 6-foot-1, 250-pound junior college All-American following his high school career in Florida. But yet, Reed never played a down for the Sooners during his one year with the team.
Coaches thought so highly of Reed, Brent Venables had him at the top of the depth chart at middle linebacker when spring practice began in 2007. Venables knew that Reed had some catching up to do, learning his complex defensive scheme after two years in juco.
But what Venables — or Reed for that matter — didn’t know was how distracted Reed would be with his wife and three kids back home in California, or how complicated things would become after they all moved in with him in Norman.
When Reed’s wife fell ill and needed hospitalization, Reed was forced to miss practice and class to take care of the children. He tried to provide for them the best he could, but he later said quitting football never crossed his mind.
He found a more tenable situation 30 miles north in Edmond, and he transferred to Division II Central Oklahoma, where he finished his career as a senior defensive lineman in 2008.
Venables was counting on Reed for the 2007 season, but when he just couldn’t accommodate Reed’s situation, he had a superstar waiting in the wings to take over: Curtis Lofton, who was a backup linebacker in Norman during his first two seasons, blossomed into an All-American in 2007 and had one of the greatest seasons ever for an OU linebacker.
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National Signing Day is around the corner, so SI Sooners is examining Oklahoma’s biggest recruiting what-ifs of the last 20 years.
NOTE: We've changed the theme from "regrets" to "what-ifs" because it's hard for many to get past the negative connotation of regret. Also, "what-if" is a more accurate depiction of what we're trying to convey.
The series wasn't intended to put anyone in a bad light. It's not about the coaching staff regretting that they signed these guys, or the players regretting they came to Oklahoma.
This is about players who arrived (or almost arrived) at Oklahoma but then, for whatever reason, left well before they reached their potential.
This is what college football recruiting is all about: the risk-reward that comes with not knowing a prospect's potential. For every Adrian Peterson, there's a Rhett Bomar. For every Tommie Harris, there's a Mo Dampeer.
The time period is since 2000, when online recruiting services and the current "star" system became prominent.
The rankings were compiled by SI Sooners publisher John Hoover, Sports Animal host Al Eschbach, KREF host James Hale and Sooner Spectator publisher Jay Upchurch.