NORMAN, Okla. — Of all the former Sooners that were in town for the University of Oklahoma’s homecoming on Saturday, WVU quarterback Austin Kendall might have been the only one not rooting for an OU victory.
When Kendall committed to play football at the University of Oklahoma in 2015, he probably envisioned himself starting many games in front of the Sooners’ home crowd at Owen Field.
Things do not always go as planned, however, as Kendall spent three years in Norman and only saw time in eight games, starting one, for the Sooners. Following the announcement that former Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts would be transferring to Oklahoma after last season, Kendall decided to transfer himself, deciding on WVU in January.
Kendall’s lone start came against Baylor in 2018 and was in name only, as the usual starter, Kyler Murray, was serving a one-drive suspension. Kendall only played in that first drive, throwing two incomplete passes before Murray re-entered the game.
That made it so Saturday’s contest in Norman between the Sooners and Mountaineers was to be the first time Kendall would start a game at Owen field in which he was actually going to play.
It was even in doubt if Kendall would be able to start in this game as he suffered a shoulder injury during the first quarter of the team’s previous game against Iowa State. Nothing was going to keep Kendall off the field however. He said that by Wednesday he felt good enough that he was going to play no matter what.
Kendall and the Mountaineers struggled Saturday, eventually falling to the No. 5 Sooners by a final score of 52-14. Kendall completed 15-of-31 passes for 182 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Outside of football, Kendall said he just liked having the opportunity to return to a place he used to call home.
“It was pretty cool just to come in and be able to see the road I used to take to go to my house, and just good to see everybody,” Kendall said. “I hadn’t seen them in a couple months.”
Kendall’s leading receiver Saturday, T.J. Simmons, said he thought it was an emotional homecoming for Kendall.
“I think it was a very emotional game,” Simmons said. “He spent three years of his college career, he started his college career here so it’s like home to him. He just felt like he had to make a big impression, make a big statement today. I think he played as well as he could, knowing the circumstances."
Kendall’s only other appearances in front of the Oklahoma home crowd came in the 2016 and 2018 home-openers. Against Louisiana-Monroe in 2016, Kendall threw for 108 yards and two touchdowns and against Florida Atlantic in 2018, he passed for 88 yards and one score.
Despite not coming away with the result in the game he, or the team, wanted, Kendall said that he enjoyed his return to Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.
“The atmosphere’s awesome,” Kendall said. “Not a lot of the fans were really negative towards me, they were really kind of supportive and that was cool, good to hear.”