WR development an issue with Norvell

Jay Norvell was among the most liked and personable coaches at OU, but wide receiver production has been lacking lately.

It startled a lot of people that the first Oklahoma coaching domino to fall was wide receivers coach Jay Norvell. Year after year, the rumblings were all about how great Norvell had done once again on the recruiting trail.

And for a few years in a row, the issue was whether or not Norvell was going to leave OU of his own accord instead of being shown the door.

In the coaching profession, you have to strike when the iron is hot. Things have cooled off considerably with Norvell because of OU’s production at wide receiver the last two years and because of some notable misses on the recruiting trail combined with some real notable missing out ons with other top recruits.

It’s not just about how you bring in, but it’s about whom you didn’t like OU has had to swallow regarding Nelson Agholor for the 2012 class and KD Cannon for the 2014 class. Agholor was so productive at USC that he’s headed for the NFL Draft. Cannon had a quality freshman season for Baylor and looks like a star in the making.

Norvell came to OU in 2008 and definitely had some hits. But as the years have progressed, there have been too many misses, too.

You can’t always judge high school character, but if a player leaves the program, a lot of that goes back to recruiting because you have to be able to recognize when things won’t pan out. Inexact science, for sure, but nature of the beast as well.

OU media heads will miss Norvell because no doubt he was the most insightful, engaging, and more importantly, available OU coach. It was never a combative situation but being a media darling doesn’t help you keep your job.

Sooners Illustrated takes a look back at Norvell’s wide receiver classes and how everything has panned out.

2008

DeJuan Miller

Jameel Owens

Josh Jarboe

Ooh, this might bring up some bad memories for OU fans. Jarboe never saw a game at OU, Owens transferred to Tulsa, while Miller never developed into something special. Tough to blame Norvell too much, though, since brought in right at the end of the recruiting cycle.

2009

Cameron Kenney

Jaz Reynolds

Kenney, a junior college transfer, did contribute to the Sooners before his time was up, but he was never the focal point of the passing game. Reynolds battled off the field issues but redeemed himself in the end. He never became the player some had hoped, but he had his moments at OU.

2010

Kenny Stills

Justin McCay

Sheldon McClain

Joe Powell

Stills was easily the biggest home run of Norvell’s tenure at OU. The other three didn’t survive as Sooners for various issues.

2011

Trey Metoyer

Kameel Jackson

Tough to blame anybody for Metoyer, but we all know how that one has turned out. The No. 1-ranked receiver for the class has had to battle numerous off the field issues and is a great “what might have been” story. Jackson transferred after his freshman season.

2012

Sterling Shepard

Durron Neal

Derrick Woods

Courtney Gardner

Add in Metoyer for this class, and it was supposed to be the greatest class ever assembled. Gardner could never get his grades worked out. Woods was suspended this season. Shepard has been the stud all hoped for, while Neal has had moments but not the consistency or production so many expected from the St. Louis product.

2013

Jordan Smallwood

Austin Bennett

Dannon Cavil

K.J. Young

This is where it’s starting to hurt. Cavil left the team and has transferred to UTSA. The other three are in the rotation but none of them stepped up in a huge way this season. This felt like the year for Young and/or Smallwood, but it never materialized.

2014

Dallis Todd

Jeffery Mead

Mark Andrews

Michiah Quick

Jury is still out on all of them, but Quick showed flashes that he could amount to something special in Norman.

Norvell did a heck of a job of recruiting players but had to dip into the juco and transfer waters too much to find production. Guys like Justin Brown, Jalen Saunders, LaColtan Bester weren’t Norvell guys originally.

Coaching changes always have a ripple effect on the current class, but juco wide receiver Dede Westbrook came to grips and accepted the news Sunday night. John Humphrey, the only other wide receiver for OU right now, was shocked but has time to take the news in and make his best decision.


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