During the next two months leading up to the Big 12 Media Days in Dallas, Sooners Illustrated will breakdown the Oklahoma Sooners’ roster, starting with Dominique Alexander (No. 1 on the roster) and working all the way down to Dwayne Orso (No. 99) and the incoming freshmen.
We’ll look at last year’s performance, the best-case scenario for this season – without projecting injuries – and what each player means to the short-term or long-term success of the Sooners.
No. 3 - WR Sterling Shepard (5-foot-10, 191 pounds)
51 catches, 970 yards, 5 touchdowns
What happened last year: Shepard was a monster for Oklahoma through the first half of the season before a series of injuries sidelined him for the final half of the year. He caught just one pass and played in just two of the final five games of the season. Before the injury though, Shepard surpassed 100 yards five times had a combined 412 yards and 22 catches in two games against TCU and Kansas State. The passing attack went dead with Shepard’s injury.
Level of importance for Sooners (1-10): 9. It would be a 10 if the quarterback situation was solved, but there will be no more important weapon this season than Shepard, who will likely be the primary target on the majority of the Sooners’ throws this season. He’ll have more help this year than he did last season, but it’ll still be on him to help the Sooners transition into a more pass-oriented look. Shepard’s play on the field won’t go past this season, but he has a chance to make the Sooners’ offensive transition seamless by helping the underclassmen-heavy receiving corps pick up on concepts of the new attack. That would go further than a touchdown – well, almost any touchdown.
Best-case scenario for this season: It could be a huge year for Shepard in his final games in the Crimson and Cream. He was on pace for nearly 90 catches, 1,800 yards and 10 touchdowns before his injury last season, and in this offense, those numbers could easily be replicated. If he’s over 80 catches, 1,900 yards and 12 touchdowns though, it would be a great senior season.