Hanna Hopes to Provide Bigger Impact in 2010

Tight end James Hanna hasn't been much of a contributor on the field for the Sooners since arriving at OU, but he's shown flashes this spring of his potential.

Consider when he caught a pass, made a couple moves, and sprinted upfield 80 yards for a touchdown in the Sooners' first scrimmage this spring.

It's something that has given him more confidence to make these kinds of plays more frequently.

"Yeah. I mean, that's like, just those kinds of plays and just like even little plays, I'll get a good block, make me feel more confident, so [that's good]," Hanna said.

Hanna's a guy that caught only six passes for 48 yards last season for an average of 8.0 yards per reception, but he said ability certainly wasn't holding him back from being an every down player.

Something else internally might have been.

"Maybe confidence [held me back]," Hanna said. "But, I mean, like I said, I'm growing. I'm feel like better and more confident everyday, so I feel pretty good."

A factor that will help improve his confidence further is his ability to be multi-dimensional in terms of what tight ends need to do.

He's been playing the role both of a traditional tight end and flexing out.

"We're mixing it up a lot," Hanna said. "I play a lot of tight end. I play a lot of kind of a wing type position, so we do a lot of that there."

Hanna said he's progressing at performing the role of a traditional tight end.

"Yeah, I'm gaining a lot, so that's encouraging, you know. Like I came here more of as like a receiving type guy, but I feel like I'm doing better blocking.

Fellow tight end Trent Ratterree has made that transition easier for Hanna.

"Yeah, honestly like I didn't play like tight end in high school and Ratterree did," Hanna said. "So like we're like partners in a lot of drills and stuff, so I feel like he pushes me to be a better blocker, and I push him to be a better receiver, so even just in that aspect, it's helpful."

So how will that translate into performance in the fall?

All of these things are preparation for actual playing time, something the 6-foot-4, 243 lb. product from Flower Mound, Texas, didn't expect a year ago.

"Yeah, last year was rough because we went into the season [and] I was expecting to be like a third, fourth string guy, and I ended up being a first, second string guy," Hanna said. "So, my mind set was really not good going into the season, but this year I've got a totally different mind set like we all do. We're all just fighting to do as good as we can because we know we're the guys, so I mean we're a lot better."

The tight end group needs to have success in 2010 to take some of the pressure off wide receiver Ryan Broyles on the perimeter.

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