Oklahoma football: Sooners lose veteran D-lineman to medical retirement

Ricardo B. Brazziell-USA TODAY Sports

The Oklahoma football program learned this week that it will probably be without the services of veteran defensive lineman Jacob Lacey for the 2024 season.

Lacey confirmed this week that he will medically retire because of a recurrence in blood clots that put his life in danger and threatened to end his career a year ago.

The Oklahoma redshirt-senior announced on social media: "I've had two pulmonary embolism incidents in less than a year. Both times I was told I was lucky to be alive."

"That's a devastating blow to us," said head coach Brent Venables. "We were really counting on not only his leadership, but he is a very good player."

Lacey, a transfer from Notre Dame, played a key role on the Sooners' defensive line last season, and in December, he announced he was coming back for his final season of eligibility in 2024. Along with Da'Jon Terry, a fellow transfer who joined the Oklahoma roster last season from Tennessee, Lacey was expected to anchor the OU defensive line next season and provide experience and leadership to a young OU D-line with loads of talent but lacking in experience.

Oklahoma suffered several defensive line losses after last season, which they will begin to replenish with a talented 2024 recruiting class that includes elite D-line prospects in five-star recruit David Stone and four-stars Jayden Jackson and Nigel Smith II.

Lacey started 11 of the Sooners' 13 games at defensive tackle last season and led all of the OU interior linemen playing 385 snaps in the 2023 season. He ended the season with 17 tackles, 2.5 for a loss, one sack and one forced fumble.

Venables noted that OU had one of the best havoc ratings in college football last season and that the Sooners led the country in plays that resulted in either tackles for loss or tackles for zero net gain. Lacey was a big part of that, he said.