Kelly emerging at the right time

Freshman receiver Malcolm Kelly talks about his improved play.

Two days into training camp, OU wide receiver coach Darrell Wyatt was raving about freshman Malcolm Kelly.

Then bad luck struck the Longview, Texas native in the form of a pulled hamstring. That cost him the rest of training camp. And by the time he returned, just in time for the start of the season, he was behind on assignments and fundamentals.

Kelly didn't get much wide receiver training at Longview, where running the football is an art form. However, from a talent standpoint he had all the tools and he was lucky because he was working with one of the best wide receiver coaches in the country.

Kelly started slow this season and he was shut out early in the first three games, but since then he has caught 16 passes for 200 yards and one touchdown. He had his breakout game against Nebraska catching eight passes for 86 yards.

Senior Travis Wilson remains the Sooners best receiver, and if there is a go-to guy it would be him. But Kelly is becoming a sure bet himself and there is no doubt that he and young Rhett Bomar are becoming quite a duo.

Don't look now, but the rest of the season the Sooners will have their own form of the triplets going in Bomar, Adrian Peterson and Malcolm Kelly, who will all three return next year.

For now, Kelly is just working to get better and he stopped to chat with for the Two Minute Drill.

JH: How does it finally feet to get into a groove and get going after a slow start?

MK: "It feels real good. I have been waiting on it to happen. When I had that hamstring injury I was doing real well and that set me back. So, I just waited my turn.

"I always knew that I had the ability and that it was just a matter of time before I got out there and made things happen. The college game is different than high school and the game didn't slow down for me until last week. Now it is just like in high school, but everybody is big, everybody is fast.

"After you go out there and play two or three games everything does slow down for you. You don't think about it being a college game, you just think about you going out there to make plays. That is what I try to do."

JH: So now do you trust your athletic ability?

MK: "Oh yeah, a whole lot. At first, I was going out there and trying to do everything extra fast and all that stuff so I messed up things so much. Now I am doing much better.

Coach Wyatt emphasizes the little things, the details about being a receiver. I have just tried to listen and then go out there and try to put it to work. What Coach Wyatt tells you always works, it never fails."

JH: It seems like to me that the route that you run best is the out-route, because it seems you and Rhett always hook up on it?

MK: "We were expecting Nebraska to play a lot of man, but once we got out there they were playing back in a zone. I guess they didn't want us to beat them deep. They gave us the easy short routes, so I just took off and ran the out route and as soon as I turned around I knew the ball was going to be there.

"Most of the time the reason why we are consistent on running out routes is because Rhett is thinking the same thing that I am. I just run it and go out there and catch it and that is about it."

JH: Don't you have to sell the route by faking like you are going deep? And how does your size help you on that route or on any route?

MK: "I can't say that size benefits me that much on the out route more than the fact that the cornerback is playing off me. If they are going to play up then we usually don't run that route, but if they are giving us a little cushion then you have to sell vertical then the DB is going to be scared that he is going to get beat deep. If you push it straight at him, then you have to sell him deep and then you break it off. Ten I am going to get him off track and I am going to get open."

JH: You don't run it when the cornerback is sitting on it do you, like Chijioke was against Nebraska when he picked one off and took it to the house?

MK: "Yeah, you don't want to run it right then (laughing as hard as he could) That is not the time when the cornerback is jumping the route, because when we see that we will convert that route to something else."

JH: You have made two catches that Sooner fans are talking about. And even though neither have been in bounds, they have been fantastic nonetheless. Have you made these kind of catches your entire high school career? Are they the norm for you or are we seeing you raising your game to another level?

MK: "I had one catch like that in high school. I was running and out route and the ball was thrown too high and I just reached up and caught it with one hand. People always get on me saying that I don't show any emotion after I catch a pass like that. I mean, I just can't say it is routine, but that kind of catch is not really that hard for me.

"I have big hands so that catch is really not that hard for me to make. By saying that I sound cocky, like I am mister big head or something. I mean, if it was just a fantastic catch to me then I would get up and blow it up and stuff. In those cases they were just catches that I had to make one-handed.

"I couldn't put two hands out, because if I put two hands out my hands would have been too short to catch it. I could only get one hand on those footballs and that is what I did and I caught them."

JH: It is too bad that neither one of them counted?

MK: "For real, because I thought I was really in this weekend. I could see the Baylor game why they called me out, but this past weekend I thought I was in."

JH: The whole time Travis was out, could you tell it was really bothering him?

MK: "Travis never really showed that to me. He was always jumping around encouraging me even though he was hurting. Once I started to come on Travis would tell me that he whished he could be out there. I know he was mad on the inside, but he never showed it.

"He was never walking around pouting and stuff. He was just trying to uplift us and trying to help us young receivers. All he cared about was helping us."

JH: What does it mean to get Travis back on offense?

MK: "It means a whole lot, but it means a lot to get everybody back on offense. Having AD back was a huge plus. And then having Travis back was great, especially with all the receivers that we have out there now.

The offense is starting to get into a rhythm as Rhett is coming along, everybody can see that. That is a big deal for us and that was a big win on the road for us."

JH: Talk about the development of Rhett and what that means to the offense? He says the game has slowed down for him and you say the same thing about you, but can you see that in him?

MK: "I can see that a whole lot. Sometimes Rhett can be so quick to run and many times people were saying that was the o-line breaking down, but it was just Rhett reacting too quick. Now, everybody is just maturing at the same time. The o-line is giving Rhett more time.

"We were watching film of the Nebraska game and he was just sitting back there enjoying himself getting ready to throw the ball. He has settled down a whole lot in the pocket and he actually looks for which receiver he wants to throw the ball to. The game has just slowed down for him, and when that happens is when your talent starts to take over."

JH: When you lost early a number you had to go through a lot, but now that you are winning how much did that adversity help you in the long run?

MK: "It helped us a whole lot. When we were losing those first few games everybody was down on Rhett. Everybody was down on the team, everybody was down on Paul (Thompson). I think if we weren't Oklahoma what happened to us early would have been no big deal.

Getting criticized for losing a game just comes with the territory at Oklahoma. Once you lose a game like that that is a huge deal. We lost to TCU, who wasn't ranked at the time, and we just had to bounce back and having everybody bang on us just brought us closer together. We can't worry about what anybody else thinks, we just have to go out and play good football."

JH: Where is your confidence level right now with three games to go?

MK: "Right now it is very high. We are really getting back to where we were the last couple of years. Once we go out and the offense shows that we can put together drives and score, then it just builds confidence.

"I can't say we are at that level yet of the last couple of years, but we are at a real good level right now that we are comfortable with."

JH: It seems Rhett has a lot of confidence in you throwing it up with you going up to get it, but do you have just as much confidence that you can come down with the ball?

MK: "In high school that play was real easy, because I just ran by somebody. But now, especially in the Nebraska game this past weekend, Coach Wyatt told us that we had to switch it up. We were trying to run go-balls when the DBs were already playing us seven or eight yards deep. Most of the time when we are going to run it is when they are playing man-up.

"My problem was when he was playing up on me I was still thinking that some of my high school was still running off on me, as far as me running down field looking for a fade ball after I had run up on the DB. That wasn't smart football at all. So, I wouldn't kick it in until I got up to the DB and I needed to kick it in from the start.

"That is just growing pains from a young guy. If the DB is playing off, I need to look for the jump ball. But if he is close, the go-ball is going to be 30 or 40 yards down field like against Kansas. On a jump ball, that comes down to who is the most athletic.

"Against Nebraska, I had the ball when I was coming down and the defensive back knocked it out of my hands. It is just who is the most athletic who is going to come down with that ball. I can use my size and use it to my advantage, but until I start doing everything at full speed I am going to come up short."

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