At wide receiver it was the newcomers who stole the show this spring. Through the first half of spring ball the coaches were disappointed that redshirt freshman Brandon Jones was splitting his time playing baseball. Jones missed the Sooners first scrimmage to travel with the Sooner baseball team to Nebraska, where he never left the bench. The fact Jones wasn't playing in the baseball games and yet still was splitting his time with football was beginning to cause a problem with the Sooner football squad.
Then, in the second scrimmage, Jones burned the secondary for two touchdowns and three days later he got his first start in centerfield. Jonesí total athletic career was coming together at the same time and from there it would only get better. In the Red/White game, Jones scored three times and was the games leading receiver, while in baseball Jones took over the starting spot in center and delivered two home runs, a triple and a game tying single.
"Everything just seems to be happening for me all at once," said Jones after the Red/White game. "I have always played a bunch of sports and I seem to concentrate on everything better when I am doing well in sports.î
ìThat includes the classroom as well,î said Jones. ìI like both sports equally. If I was forced to give up one, I don't know which one I would give up right now, so I hope things continue to do well in both sports, because I love playing both sports."
Jonesí spectacular finish stole the show from Will Peoples, another redshirt freshman, who was the talk of the spring for the first two weeks. Peoples was the talk of the receiver corp early in camp, but seemed to run out of steam toward the end, even dropping a pass when he got an opportunity to run with the first unit. However, he did manage to grab four passes for 82 yards in the spring game.
Still, both were good enough that they will now be included in the Sooners rotation next year. Jones is now considered a major player in the race for playing time and Peoples will get his opportunity as well.
The problem at wide receiver is that veterans Antwone Savage and Curtis Fagan still didn't return to the big play form they showed as sophomore's.
Savage was moved to the slot to take advantage of his running ability, but never could shake himself loose against the first team defense. Savage averaged 10-yards per catch all spring.
Fagan was a little more successful and even burned the first defense in redzone drills for his only touchdowns of the spring in a Wednesday scrimmage, complements of a perfect corner pass from Rawls. However, in the spring game he was held to one catch for six yards.
Mark Clayton was clearly the team's best wide receiver, but even he struggled against the first defense. In the spring game Clayton was shutout.
Clearly this is a position that could see some change in the fall. The coaches love Jonesí big play ability and now believe that he is a star in the making. They feel Peoples is another with big play ability and the coaches want both on the field. It's been a long time since Savage and Fagan showed big play ability and that has become a concern on the Sooner offense.
Bob Stoops wants big plays out of his wide receivers and if it takes two redshirt freshmen to get it done he won't be afraid to play them.
Wide receiver is also a position where a freshman could break in. DaBryan Blanton will get a major shot in the slot and JeJuan Rankins is a player that Stoops believes will be a great one at OU.
Spring Review: Wide Receivers
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