By JOHN SHINN
NORMAN — Oklahoma safety Tony Jefferson and receiver Kenny Stills will enter the 2013 NFL draft. Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops confirmed the juniors’ decisions on Monday.
He wished them well in a statement released Monday night.
“We appreciate the contributions that Tony and Kenny have made during their time at Oklahoma,” Stoops said. “We wish them both the best as they pursue their opportunities in the NFL.”
Their departures will leave sizable holes as the Sooners head into the offseason reeling from Friday’s 41-13 loss to Texas A&M in the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic.
Jefferson was a second-team All-American this season after leading the Sooners with 119 tackles. He also had two interceptions. Jefferson’s accolades date back to the 2010 season when he was the Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year and was named a freshman All-American by several publications.
Stills was also a freshman All-American in 2010 and started every game over the last three seasons. He is now third all-time at OU with 204 career receptions and led the Sooners with 82 receptions for 959 yards and 11 touchdown catches this season.
Stills and Jefferson thanked OU fans for the support with a lengthy statements on Twitter Monday night.
“Becoming a player in the National Football League has been a lifelong dream and goal of mine that I feel I am now ready to make a reality,” Stills said. “When I arrived in Norman three years ago, I could never have imagined the deep connection I would establish with such a warm community of people. Through the good and the bad, on such a large number of occasions, I have been humbled by the kindness of your hearts.”
“As I start my journey on to the next level I’d like to thank the coaches, players, fans, and students at the University of Oklahoma,” Jefferson wrote. “It’s been a dream that I didn’t even believe I was capable of dreaming. To attend an institution with such great people surrounding it makes me realize how blessed I was to come here. The coaches have had a huge impact in my life on and off the field I appreciate and owe it all to them for giving me the opportunity to showcase my abilities and not only making me a better player but essentially making me a better man.”
The loss of Stills will be softened by a deep receiving corps expected to return next season. Outside of senior wide receiver Justin Brown, the rest of the group will be back.
Losing Jefferson will have a big impact OU’s defense, which was already set to move on without senior cornerback Demontre Hurst and senior safety Javon Harris.
OU is still waiting for cornerback Aaron Colvin to decide whether he will return for his senior season. If he elects to turn pro, OU will be without a returning starter at the cornerback or safety spots.