A familiar face is returning to Norman in 2023.
Austin Stogner, the former 4-star tight end who signed with the Sooners in the 2019 class, will rejoin the team next year after playing alongside former OU quarterback Spencer Rattler at South Carolina.
After catching 47 passes for 654 yards and eight touchdowns throughout his first three years with the Sooners, Stogner decided he needed a change of scenery last year.
The incoming coaching staff didn’t even have time to get acclimated with the 6-foot-5 pass catcher, as his mind was already made.
“Actually, the first day I was on campus,” said offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby, “sat with Stog in my office and had a conversation. He decided to make the change.”
Brent Venables didn’t have time to convince him otherwise either.
“I met Austin maybe my second or third day here,” Venables said on Wednesday. “He just wanted to shake my hand and tell me he was gone. He had already made that decision.
“Once I realized it didn’t matter what I had to say, it was just something he felt he needed and wanted to do. I wished him well.”
Playing under his former position coach in now-South Carolina head coach Shane Beamer, Stogner totaled the second-most receptions and yards in his career.
Stogner hauled in 10 catches for 210 yards and one score last year, helping the Gamecocks finish 8-4 this past season.
Meanwhile at Oklahoma, Lebby made the tight end, specifically Brayden Willis, a centerpiece of the passing game.
Willis set career highs across the board, catching 35 passes for 456 yards and seven touchdowns.
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He quickly became one of the most valuable leaders on the entire team, leaving a larger void than just the on-field production in Willis’ path after graduating out of college football.
With a pair of true freshman in Jason Llewellyn and Kaden Helms backing up Willis, the Sooners looked to the transfer portal for more depth headed into 2023.
Reconnecting with Stogner made sense, as Venables said Stogner felt he had unfinished business at Oklahoma.
“Now he has realized he wants to finish his career here at Oklahoma,” Venables said. “He felt like this was home.
“… He really felt like this was where he wanted to be to finish his career. We felt like he can be a tremendous addition.”
The Sooners also signed Kade McIntyre from Fremont, NE, during this week’s Early Signing Period, only reinforcing that Stogner will have a great opportunity to lead OU’s young tight end room this season.
The Oklahoma program looks much different than the last time Stogner took the field donning the Crimson and Cream, but the expectation is that he’ll still bring a high level of production next year.
“We know the talent, the size, the length and the athlete that Austin is and what a weapon he can be in our offense,” Venables said. “I’m incredibly excited about him.”
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By Joel Bryant, HSOT Sr. Football & Recruiting EditorGreensboro, N.C. — Grimsley High School
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