Sooner DB Justin Harrington out for the season with knee injury

Sooner DB Justin Harrington out for the season with knee injury

Brent Venables confirmed that Harrington underwent season-ending knee surgery Thursday.

Eli Lederman

By Eli Lederman

| Sep 30, 2023, 11:46pm CDT

Eli Lederman

By Eli Lederman

Sep 30, 2023, 11:46pm CDT

NORMANOklahoma 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.”

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Eli Lederman reports on the University of Oklahoma for Sellout Crowd. He began his professional career covering the University of Missouri with the Columbia Missourian and later worked at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette before two years writing on the Sooners and Cowboys at the Tulsa World. Born and raised in Mamaroneck, New York, Lederman grew up a rabid consumer of the New York sports pages and an avid fan of the New York Mets. He entered sportswriting at 14 years old and later graduated from the University of Missouri. Away from the keyboard, he can usually be found exploring the Oklahoma City food scene or watching/playing fútbol (read: soccer). He can be reached at [email protected].

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