Dec 28, 2019; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Oklahoma Sooners running back Kennedy Brooks (26) runs the ball as LSU Tigers linebacker Jacob Phillips (6) defends during the second quarter of the 2019 Peach Bowl college football playoff semifinal game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

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Report: OU RB Kennedy Brooks opts out of 2020 season

Oklahoma redshirt junior running back Kennedy Brooks has opted out of the 2020 football season, according to a report from Jason Kersey of The Athletic.

Brooks rushed for 2,067 yards and 18 touchdowns over the last two seasons. On his way to back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons, Brooks led the Sooners in rushing in 2018 and finished second on the team in rushing last year to quarterback Jalen Hurts.

Brooks led the Big 12 in yards per carry in 2019 (6.5), finishing ninth in the category nationally. Brooks considered entering the 2020 NFL Draft in January, but chose to return to Oklahoma.

Sooners head coach Lincoln Riley, speaking with reporters on Saturday, said he was not aware of any players electing to opt out of the 2020 season but allowed that it could change.

“That’s the one thing we’ve told our families, our players, is, ‘Listen, we’re not all in the same situation,'” Riley said. “We all look at this through our own lens and how it directly relates to us.

“Everybody’s got to look at this individually and make the decision that’s best for them. And our deal is, we’re going to be supportive of that decision.”

Brooks’ departure will impact the position for Oklahoma. Trey Sermon, who paired with Brooks in the backfield in 2018, transferred to Ohio State this spring. Rhamondre Stevenson, who rushed for 515 yards and six touchdowns in 2019, will miss the first several games of 2020 because of an NCAA suspension.

Oklahoma opens the season on Sept. 12 against visiting Missouri State. Junior T.J. Pledger, redshirt freshman Marcus Major and true freshman Seth McGowan will be the main running backs available. Pledger and Major have combined for just 50 career carries for 272 yards.

The Sooners returned to practice on Saturday after a week off, and the program reported nine positive tests for COVID-19 upon the players’ return. The Big 12 is one of six FBS conferences, and joins the ACC and SEC as one of three power conferences, still planning to play this season during the pandemic.

Around 40 players from the five power conferences, which also includes the Big Ten and the Pac-12, have opted out of the 2020 season. Among the other notable players to opt out are Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley and Miami defensive end Gregory Rousseau, while a trio of Big Ten stars had bowed out before the conference canceled its fall schedule — Purdue receiver Rondale Moore, Minnesota receiver Rashod Bateman and Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons.

Brooks, from Mansfield, Texas, was a four-star recruit in 2017 and was ranked as the No. 13 running back in the country by Rivals. He had offers from Michigan, Wisconsin, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M among others, and took a redshirt season with the Sooners in 2017.

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