The Oklahoma receiver out of Pleasant Grove High School in Elk Grove was cleared Wednesday to compete immediately for the No. 13th Sooners, who could use a boost of down-field talent.
A junior, Saunders was ruled ineligible to compete this fall per NCAA transfer stipulations. He left the Fresno State program during spring drills upset with his switch from a wide out to the slot under a new coaching regime. The basis of Saunders' appeal to play this season was that coaching change at Fresno State. The NCAA agreed in accepting the appeal.
Saunders was an All-WAC talent last fall, catching 50 passes for 1,065 yards and 12 touchdowns. He was second in the country with a 21.4 yards-per-catch average.
Sooners coach Bob Stoops said he immediately plucked Saunders from the scout team group upon learning of his clearance and inserted him with the regulars. He could play as soon as Saturday against No. 15 Texas in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, the coach said.
"I anticipate him helping (us this season)," Stoops told media after Wednesday's practice. "You're getting a guy who has played a lot of ball and played it well. He's quick. He has a great sense of space. He has great hands and a great ability to get open. He's a really good player."
Saunders' brother Isaiah is a standout running back at Pleasant Grove this season. He rushed for 268 yards and six touchdowns in a rout of Sheldon on Friday for the 4-2 Eagles.
- Joe Davidson
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