Cody finds his place on OU line

After missing nearly two seasons, junior is a big part of Sooners’ plan.
Tuesday, November 4, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 5:23 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

It has been a long road back for Oklahoma’s Dan Cody, and his journey is being rewarded.

Cody, a junior defensive end, is the Big 12 Conference Defensive Player of the Week only two seasons removed from leaving the Sooners during a bout with clinical depression.

After playing in nine games as a freshman in 2000, Cody missed most of the 2001 season. He started the season opener before leaving the team after clinical depression was diagnosed.

“I had contact from time to time, week to week,” Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. “It was nothing to do with football, just checking on him to see how he was progressing and make sure he was getting the help and assistance he needed.”

Stoops said he didn’t know whether Cody would be able to return to the Sooners, but that wasn’t his concern.

“He needed time to get it balanced out,” Stoops said. “When he did, he came back in here asking if he could play again, and I said, “Absolutely.’”

The reunion has been beneficial for both parties. After serving as a solid backup last season, Cody has been outstanding this season. He has 25 tackles, two forced fumbles and leads the team with eight sacks.

In the Sooners’ 52-9 win against Oklahoma State on Saturday, Cody had four tackles, all for losses, three sacks and forced a fumble.

“We felt that provided he was back healthy and doing what he was capable of, he could be a great player for us,” Stoops said.

AT THE HELM: While Oklahoma continued to roll through the Big 12 Conference, separating itself from the pack in the South Division, things tightened in the North Division.

Nebraska lost 31-7 at Texas, dropping the Cornhuskers to 3-2 in the conference and leaving them tied with Kansas State, with Missouri one-half game back at 2-2 and Kansas a game back.

“It’s a great race right now,” Iowa State coach Dan McCarney said. “You look at it and see teams that are tied with the lead that have two losses. I think it’s going to be a great finish.”

McCarney’s Cyclones have an opportunity to affect the outcome of the race for the North Division title. Iowa State plays Missouri and Kansas State in two of its last four games. McCarney said the Cyclones are trying to avoid the “spoiler” mentality, though.

“We wouldn’t use that terminology,” McCarney said. “We’re trying to give our fans something to be proud of here in the last four weeks of the season.”

In the South Division, the Sooners lead Texas by a game and hold the tiebreaker against the Longhorns, having beaten them 65-13 on Oct. 11. This week, Oklahoma hosts Texas A&M; the Aggies upset then-No. 1 Oklahoma last season.

“Texas A&M we realize is a team that beat us last season when we were No. 1 in the country,” Stoops said. “We know we’ve got a big challenge this week to maintain the position of pursuing a Big 12 championship, and possibly a national championship.”

OTHER AWARDS: Texas running back Cedric Benson and Texas Tech’s Wes Welker are the other Big 12 Players of the Week along with Cody.

Benson, the Offensive Player of the Week, rushed for 174 yards and three touchdowns in the Longhorns’ 31-7 win against Nebraska.

Welker, the Special Teams Player of the Week, returned a punt 58 yards for a touchdown, the eighth of his career, setting an NCAA record. Welker also set a Big 12 career mark with 1,678 punt return yards.

“I think it’s really impressive,” Texas Tech coach Mike Leach said. “He had over 200 of all-purpose yards. He’s always been a guy who has a lot of skills but does a lot of what he does on grit and determination.”

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