Brent Venables confirmed that Harrington underwent season-ending knee surgery Thursday.
NORMAN — Oklahoma defensive back Justin Harrington underwent knee surgery Thursday morning to repair a damaged ACL and will miss the remainder of the 2023 season, Brent Venables confirmed Saturday night following the 14th-ranked Sooners’ 50-20 win over Iowa State.
Here’s what you need to know:
- Harrington, the fourth-year defender who charted a rapid climb after Venables’ Dec. 2021 hiring, began the season among the Sooners’ veteran leaders and started each of the OU’s initial pair of games at the hybrid linebacker/safety position.
- Harrington made six tackles against Arkansas State and SMU and secured the interception that iced the Sooners’ Week 2 win over the Mustangs before missing the next two games and dropping off OU’s depth chart prior to Saturday’s Week 5 meeting with Iowa State.
- Venables had addressed Harrington’s injury situation ahead of the Sooners’ Week 4 trip to Cincinnati: “We’re still evaluating Harrington in particular about what his options might be.”
- Harrington underwent surgery Thursday and Venables indicated that he will pursue a medical redshirt to return for the 2024 season: “Looks like that will likely take place but that has to go through its process,”
- Dasan McCullough has started at the cheetah position each of the last two weeks and appears likely to remain in the role. Safeties Reggie Pearson and Peyton Bowen stand as another pair of candidates to step into the position as needed.
Harrington’s season-ending procedure marks a disappointing development in one of the turnaround stories of Venables’ tenure at OU.
The junior college transfer who arrived in Norman in 2020 briefly left the program following Lincoln Riley’s departure and Venables’ hiring before returning to the Sooners as a walkon in 2022. Harrington made 23 tackles with an interception in the most productive season of his college career last fall and went on to regain his scholarship prior to the 2023 campaign.
Venables expects Harrington to remain a central leader for the Sooners this fall and for him to return to OU secondary when the Sooners embark on their first run through the SEC in 2024.
“Justin’s a great leader,” Venables said. “If he stood up here right now in front of a mic you all would just melt with his perspective and toughness, his love for his teammates. He’s a special guy and he’ll be a big part of helping us lead and keep encouraging our guys.”