Austin Haywood was going to be the next Keith Jackson. The Southmoore graduate had the hands, speed and skills to be a top-tier tight end in college football and was one of Oklahoma’s prized recruits two years ago.

If Haywood is ever to reach that potential, it will not be with the Sooners. OU coach Bob Stoops announced Monday during his Insight Bowl press conference that Haywood’s attempts to rejoin the team he walked away from two months ago have come to an end.

“Austin wasn’t able to work his way back on the team,” Stoops said. “I’ve made that decision.”

Stoops did not elaborate on exactly why Haywood wasn’t able to work is way back on the team. And Haywood said that was something he didn’t feel comfortable discussing right now.

However, the sophomore did say he is planning to transfer and will have a new destination picked out soon.

“I got a few schools in mind,” Haywood said. “I haven’t really decided on one yet. More than likely it will be out of the state. I don’t want to say which ones just now.”

According to Haywood, he has four five schools he is looking at. He doesn’t know whether he will go to a D-I program, which would mean he would have to sit out a season, or go D-II.

The point of no return began Oct. 21 when Haywood informed the Oklahoma coaches he was leaving the team. The Sooners were 6-0 and ranked No. 3 in the nation. Haywood had caught six passes for 42 yards.

While the timing of his announcement was not the best, he doesn’t regret his decision.

“It just came down to the point where I can’t take this anymore and I said I’m going to leave,” Haywood said. “It took a few weeks to make my decision. I had thought about it. The coaches didn’t even know. I was talking to my teammates. But it was really just my decision. My teammates wanted me to stay, but I had to do what I had to do.”

Haywood said his family wasn’t happy with his initial choice to leave the Sooners, a program he had always dreamed of being part of.

“They were mad at first,” Haywood said. “But then they finally got over it and said it’s your decision.”

Haywood is one of several Sooners this year who have announced they are leaving the team. The latest was freshman runningback Brandon Williams, who was granted his release by the team due to family concerns. He was the third tailback to ask for a transfer

“Those guys that didn’t compete early and stick around, so be it,” Stoops said. “We will find other guys to do it. Unfortunately, too many guys don’t see the big picture.”

Haywood is disappointed it didn’t work out with Oklahoma and he is anxious to start over somewhere else.

“I have just been going through a lot of stuff,” Haywood said. “So I guess it’s been pretty tough. Want to grow from it and learn from my mistakes. I guess it just had to go down that way. Just move on and start somewhere new.”

Michael Kinney 366-3537 mkinney@mooreamerican.com

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