The stand out of this past weekend’s spring game never even got a chance to stand out in his freshman year.
Jeffery Mead caught just one pass last year, albeit an unofficial one on out-of-bounds Hail Mary, and never got another chance. He played in eight games but wasn’t targeted.
“I have no idea,” Mead said of the lack of playing time. “I didn’t feel like I did anything different. I have no idea.”
Mead leaned on his friends and family outside of the program, a select group of people that he wanted to talk to. He knew that it was just one year and things were out of his control.
“I knew I wasn’t done,” he said.
That’s behind him now, and in Lincoln Riley’s new offense and under the guide of new receivers coach Dennis Simmons, Mead showed that he can be an immediate playmaker. Mead caught four passes for 93 yards in the spring game Saturday, including a deep one-handed catch with his left hand – his off hand.
The three-star recruit out of Tulsa Union came on campus at 185 pounds before dropping fat and putting muscle back on his lean body. Right now, he’s at 192 pounds.
He’s still lean but strong for his build, and now, he’s developing into a contributor in an offense that could feature as many as 10 receivers.
“It was great to see Jeff Mead step up and make some plays,” Riley said. “That’s a key position for us right now and an interesting battle to watch.
“That X receiver is one you have to be good at. You can’t hide in this offense. Those guys are growing and we’ll continue to push them. I think the offense is helping those guys develop.”
Mead is a fit on the outside in that final spot but has things he wants to work on this offseason.
“I want to get a little bit more competitive with the ball in the air,” Mead said. “I want to get better at my footwork, and then get stronger. I think that’s all I really need right now.”
Mead doesn’t play Madden, but he said that the Sooners’ offense is probably pretty similar. It makes it easy for receivers to have a big impact. Like most of the skill players have been saying, Oklahoma’s just going to go out there and play.
“It’s simple, not easy,” he said. “They have some wrinkles in there. There’s basic plays and variations off those plays. So if you figure out the main concept, you can basically do anything in the offense.”
The biggest difference in Oklahoma’s passing attack from a physical standpoint can be seen in Mead’s size. Lacking height in last season’s receiving corps, the Sooners will feature three receivers who are taller than 6-foot-4.
Riley’s offense is all about matchups and creating one-on-one opportunities. For Mead, Andrews and Dallias Todd, those one-on-one matchups are even easier.
When covered, Mead feels like he’s open.
“We can get up,” Mead said. “(Quarterbacks are) gonna think we’re open even when we’re ‘not open.’”