Sumlin still looking for receivers to step up

OU wide receiver coach Kevin Sumlin talks about the emergence of Reggie Smith, as well as the ongoing battle for the top four in the rotation.

The Sooners are less than two weeks out from playing their season opener against UAB, and the wide receiver corp is still a work in progress.

However, there is still time for several receivers to make a move into the rotation. Recently, OU wide receiver coach Kevin Sumlin stopped by long enough after practice to talk to OUInsider.com for the Two Minute Drill.

JH: Talk about cornerback Reggie Smith getting an opportunity to get few plays at wide receiver?

KS: "Our best players are going to play. That is the way we have always done it at Oklahoma. I don't think there is any doubt that he is one of our best guys, so why not let him touch the ball?"

JH: What are you looking for out of him at this time?

KS: "Reggie has good ball skills. He has really good hands — some of the very best hands on the team. When it comes to route work we will work at that, but over time that will come. We started this off as kind of an experiment and it has started to work out. That is half of it too, because he wants to do it. We will pick our spots with it, I think. I think there is definitely a place for him and right now we are just kind of experimenting a little bit here and there on third down."

JH: Would you have made this move if you had all eight of your receivers playing great football right now?

KS: "I don't now. I think he is a talented guy, and I think if we had the guys coming on where we they needed to be maybe not. There is certainly a deal where he adds some depth. And in a 70 to 75 play game, if you can take a little bit off of somebody else and keep your level of play that high, then why not? If he gets 15 snaps a game or something like that, on third-down situations, I think that will be fine."

JH: Are you throwing the total gambit at him on playing wide receiver?

KS: "No, we don't need him to do that. Like I said, it is not an every down deal. It is not going to be that every time he comes into the game we are going to throw him the ball either. A quarterback will go through his progression and there is no doubt that he can help us. He has good hands, he is good after the catch. And, like I said, he has good hands, he really understands space.

"The advantage that he has is that he has been playing defense and he may understand spaces in the defensive secondary maybe a little bit better than our receivers do at this point. He is a little bit ahead there because he sees coverages and he knows what they are trying to do. He has been told on that side, he has been told as a nickel last year, and this year he is a corner. He has done those things so he understands it. He understands spaces and coverages a little bit better than people think. In time, he will get better at it."

JH: He is pretty good with a football in his hands too, isn't he?

KS: "There is no doubt. There is no doubt that being the return guy that he is that, he is a definite threat with the ball in his hands. He is a definite threat speed-wise to get down the field, so there are some things that we can do with him. I know he is excited about it. It is really funny how quickly he can turn around and become on offensive guy.

"I think he came back and gave Keenan Clayton a crack-back block yesterday and ran back to the huddle and Keenan was yelling at him. Then about 10 minutes later, he was over there hitting our guys. He is having a good time and as long as that continues, I think it is good for the team."

JH: If you had to play tomorrow in a three wide-receiver set, who would be your starters?

KS: "Well, right now with Manuel (Johnson) a little nicked up (ankle) we would start Malcolm Kelly and Juaquin Iglesias and Fred Strong. However, we don't play today so anything can happen. I have always said that. We don't play today and anything can still happen."

JH: Are you beginning to see more out of the Quentin Chaney, Eric Huggins, Fred Strong and the two freshmen — Adron Tennell and Brandon Caleb? What kind of progress are they making?

KS: "It is still a battle. We want those guys to come on and be the player that is inside of them, or the where their talent level is. They are gifted athletes and they have to be more consistent. Every day they are getting a little bit better, but they are nowhere near where we want them to be.

They need to put that pressure on themselves to help this team — Huggins and Chaney especially. We have two freshmen coming in here and, hell, they have only practiced for a week and a half and those guys have been here long enough to not make freshmen mistakes."

JH: As far as the freshmen go, have they put themselves into the competition to make the rotation?

KS: "Yeah, they are right in the thick of it. They are right in the middle of it, especially Adron Tennell. I think he has made plays every day. You know he will make some mistakes, but I think he is coming on pretty well. Brandon Caleb has practiced better recently. It is the kind of thing with freshmen and it is kind of funny, they have to come out and as you start to add more stuff they get a little bit overloaded. And instead of playing, they start thinking a bunch.

"I think that kind of happened to Brandon, but as they started to settle down and see the big pictured they start to come back up. So, hopefully that is the case with those young guys. I look for those two guys to battle to get on the field and be in the two-deep."

JH: I understand that Malcolm Kelly had a great scrimmage on Saturday. He must be having a great camp?

KS: "He is doing pretty well. He is working on some things every day, and I have been really pleased with Juaquin Iglesias and how he has worked at it. We are kind of moving him around a little bit all over the place and he has accepted that. You can tell what a summer has done with Juaquin, as far as his strength and size.

"I think he is 205. He is strong, fast and you can tell on his conditioning that he is able to run a lot better. So, we have been really pleased with those two guys. We just have to get everybody playing at that level. Like I said, that was the three-deep today. But we don't play today and we still have time."


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