Young out of the shadows

There were a lot of good things for OU last week and one of them was the debut of KJ Young.

It wasn’t a huge reception. It’s not like Oklahoma wasn’t going to win the game if redshirt freshman K.J. Young didn’t make the grab, but it meant something.

When OU quarterback Trevor Knight was asked what one of his favorite plays was from last week’s victory, he jumped to a big fourth down conversion by Young where he had to adjust his body to Knight’s throw.

The Sooners were already well on their way to victory, but it was one of the first times fans got to see the Young the players and coaches have been raving about since the spring.

“K.J. made a lot of plays for us,” Knight said. “He is playing with a lot of confidence. It was big for him to make that catch.”

Young’s name first started to get tossed around by the team leading up to Sugar Bowl practices as he was starting to take that next step.

It was obvious by the time the spring game rolled around he had started to clearly mark his territory and not too many people were surprised when he got the nod as OU’s No. 3 starting wide receiver.

The spotlight sometimes can make people shrink in the moment, but Young was able to handle himself like a veteran.

“It was a good feeling,” Young said. “Be my first time out there and doing everything. I’m a smarter player than I was at this time last year.”

Young wasn’t supposed to make this impression, sort of an afterthought for OU’s 2013 receiving class. At the time, Boise State seemed to be his future home before the Sooners came into the picture in late December 2012.

Oregon and Wisconsin made late charges for Young, but he stuck with the Sooners. One of the biggest changes for this year’s team has been the move of junior Sterling Shepard to outside from the slot. That move has been a catalyst for what has happened with Young.

“Sterling has been a huge help for me,” Young said. “He’s taught me most everything I know right now about the position.”

That move by Shepard allowed Young to get an opportunity. Some were surprised by Young, who had three catches for 41 yards, but wide receivers coach Jay Norvell said his consistency was what put him out there in the first place.

“He was very clear-eyed in the game,” Norvell said. “His adjustments were clean. He’s a good route runner and plays with speed off the snap. He’s worked really hard and starting to see the benefits of that.”

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