OU Hopes to Get Better Production from TE's

In 2008, all was well with the tight end group, but that was long gone last year, and the Sooners hope to turn that part of their game around in 2010.

Tight end Jermaine Gresham had 66 receptions for 950 yards in the Sooners' run to the national championship game in 2008, good for an average of 14.4 yards per catch.

And he led the team in touchdown receptions with 14 of those.

Last year, after Gresham's injury prior to the season's start, though, Sooner tight ends combined for only 21 receptions, none of which found the end zone.

Trent Ratterree led the way with only 11, while James Hanna had six, and Brody Eldridge and Eric Mensik both caught two passes.

That's a stat they took personally entering this spring.

"Yeah, there's really no one to blame but ourselves," Ratterree said. "I'm talking as far as the tight ends, the guys that played the most last year."

It's something they've discussed constantly, both on and off the field.

"We've just kind of, we've talked about it, you know, within our group," Ratterree said. "We hang out all the time. We'll be talking about like, ‘You know, man, we've got to get some more catches. We've got to do this. You know, we've got to feel that void."

And it was certainly a sizable void.

"I think between Jermaine and Brody [Eldridge]—I've been thinking about it—they had [15] touchdowns," Ratterree said. "I think [it was] something like that, and so that's like 100 points in our last season, you know, throughout the season that we didn't have. And, I mean, it was really a gap if you really paid attention to the way our season went scoring wise."

So, how exactly did the tight ends take it upon themselves to get headed in the right direction to change this as spring practice rolls over into summer and fall?

"We really, in the offseason, we really did a lot of catching drills and hand training and stuff," Ratterree said. "And we've progressed more to doing some blocking stuff to help us because we lack the size, you know, so we'd do extra in the weight room, try to gain weight, eating a lot. I mean, it was really a lot of things we needed to do. We needed to gain weight. We needed to catch more, you know, be able to block better."

Apparently, it may have already paid off for one Sooner in the group early in the spring.

"Well, personally we had a tight end at James Hanna [do well]," Ratterree said. "He went for, I think, it was a 65-yard touchdown [in the first scrimmage], caught a short pass in the flat and just burned through everybody, and that was really impressive."

This unit will need some plays like that in the fall in order to really solidify the Sooner offense.

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