Teammates standing behind Shannon

Not an easy situation for anybody, but Frank Shannon is more focused than ever say his teammates, who won't leave his side.

The ongoing saga with Oklahoma linebacker Frank Shannon is one where nothing seems impossible. Whatever turn is next seems completely plausible.

The university is asking the court to prohibit a Cleveland County district judge from enforcing an order allowing Shannon to remain enrolled as a student and participate in OU football activities. OU president David Boren released a statement Monday afternoon detailing what is happening with Shannon.

OU suspended Shannon on June 18 after a Title IX investigation into an alleged sexual assault. Shannon went to district court June 24 and received a stay, allowing him to remain enrolled as a student and to continue working out with the team.

With the coaches, it’s simply business as usual.

“We coach the players that are there,” defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. “All we can control are the players that are on the field, and that’s all we ever have controlled.”

The players are another story. It’s clear he still has the respect of his peers, especially his fellow linebackers. All they can do is support their friend.

Part of that comes from the support Shannon has given to them over the years. Never afraid of competition, Shannon has been more of a friend and mentor to the younger linebackers instead of somebody afraid to let the new guys in.

“Frank was like my mentor coming in as a freshman,” sophomore linebacker Jordan Evans said. “Frank is a different kind of person. The (Texas) Tech game when he was hurt, the trainers were telling me he was in the doctor’s office screaming for me and hoopin’ and hollerin’ for me.”

Shannon doesn’t continue to just work out with the team as Evans and Dominique Alexander confirmed Shannon is still receiving the bulk of the snaps as the No. 1 guy. Shannon even had most of the reps in last Saturday’s scrimmage as Evans had to sit out recovering from illness.

It’s not an ideal situation, but so far the consensus has been the Shannon of today hasn’t changed who he is off the field.

“Frank is still the same guy he was before,” Alexander said. “He has been a huge help for me and all the young guys. But all we can do is focus on what’s going on.”

It’s clear the OU coaches aren’t afraid to let Shannon be a part of the program. Being included in the media guide was one big sign, but one in June might have been even a bigger sign.

The Sooners hosted a lot of top recruits for their on-campus camp and a major target is Dallas Skyline four-star middle linebacker Anthony Wheeler.

Wheeler had already seen the campus a couple of times, but on this visit, Shannon acted as like a personal tour guide. He showed him around. Part of that is because Shannon also came from Dallas Skyline, but part of that is no doubt the OU coaches trusting Shannon to be that guy with such a crucial recruit.

As his situation wears on, it gets stranger and stranger. But Evans said Shannon’s focus has only been one thing.

“He’s doing really good,” Evans said. “He missed a part of spring and has come back with a different mentality. He’s focused on football and his teammates.”

Shannon was accused of sexually assaulting a female student at his off-campus apartment in January. Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn declined to prosecute the case in criminal court. However, under federal law, the university is required to conduct its own independent Title IX investigation.

OU’s process for investigating allegations of sexual misconduct involves a Title IX inquiry, followed by a hearing panel composed of faculty and staff and a final appeal to the chief student affairs officer.

The university found Shannon guilty of violating the school’s sexual misconduct policy through all three of those steps, and issued the one-year suspension on June 18.

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