AND WE'RE BAAAAAAAACK!!! First, allow me to apologize for the delay in these previews. I won't bother with any excuses, rather just plead for your mercy in my foolish mistake to make you wait for any and all things OU football.
It's really quite impressive to think about how maligned this position was for our Sooners just two years ago and now it's one of the more talented units on the entire team. And it's not just talent, but young talent on the roster and coming in later this year. Clearly wide receivers coach Jay Norvell has done an exceptional job in convincing some of the better young WRs in the country to come join Sooner Nation. Add to that Ryan Broyles return and his constant demand of a double team in the slot, then essentially every other receiver is singled up in man-to-man. Then you take into account the expected progression from year one to two for Kenny Stills and just imagine the possibilities no matter who they throw out there at the third WR spot!
So with that, let's jump right into what should be a position that gives OU fans plenty of excitement in 2011!
Ryan Broyles- Really where else could you possibly start? There's not much more that can be said about this guy, who, at least in my opinion, has become the greatest WR in the history of the program. I'm was as big a fan of Mark Clayton as you'll find, but Broyles has done enough in my mind to surpass him and claim that top spot on the WR hierarchy. He's back for one more year to break all the records he doesn't already have and put out of reach all those he already owns. The only question surrounding Broyles is just how unbelievable will he be in 2011?
Kenny Stills- Incredibly impressive for a true freshman to come in and have the kind of season he did last year. He became a viable and dangerous #2 to Broyles and noticeably improved over the course of the season. He made the short grabs, the tip-toe on the sideline grabs, and (when not horribly overthrown) the long bombs. He learned, the hard way, what not to do after a TD reception, a lesson I'm quite sure he'll carry over into 2011. As we'll get into OU will have plenty of legitimate threats at the third WR spot, so the idea of Broyles drawing a double and that third WR taking attention of the defense, and Stills matched up on some poor, helpless defender is pretty dang exciting.
Dejuan Miller- Am I alone in being amazed that this guy is already a senior?!? I mean I was aware of the fact that this was going to be his last year, but it just really doesn't feel like he's been here that long. Part of it was a wasted true freshman year where he got probably less than 10 snaps the entire season in mop up duty and the other part is all the injuries. So my sincere hope is that he's able to put it all together in his final year and have the kind of season we've all been hoping he'd have since he arrived. Miller is a unique combination of size and speed and while he's shown glimpses of his potential, has yet to really get all the way there. He's a guy that when you look at him, you think he should be able to dominate. He's an immediate mismatch against any defensive back and should be able to simply shield the defender off with his wide body and make the catch. I get that football and playing WR aren't quite that simple, but I've always been surprised that Miller hasn't been able to do more during his career.
Trey Franks- The fastest kid on the team, though you wouldn't know it because he rarely had an opportunity to display his blazing speed last year. Most of the time, or at least it seemed, OU was throwing him those flare screen passes and he never really got into top gear. From memory, there were a couple times where he was just a shoestring tackle away from getting there but never really had that one breakthrough. I'd like to see them use his speed down the field more this year and see if he can't get behind the defense. If there's a DB out there who can run with Franks, I'd love to see it. He's a very likely candidate for kickoff returns and if he can find a seam, goodnight ladies and gentlemen.
Joe Powell- There have been rumors circulating the interwebs that Powell was getting moved to cornerback, but those appear to be false (weird with the Internet I know). So Powell enters 2011 as the likely backup in the slot to Broyles and given that fact probably not a guy we'll hear a lot from this season. This is just a guess on my part, but given some of the things Stoops has said about him this spring, I expect a redshirt year for Powell. It's very early I know, but I didn't understand why they burned his shirt last year so 2011 may be a "makeup year" in that respect.
Jaz Reynolds- Yes, he's still on the team and no he's not following you on Twitter. Even saw him in one of the spring practice videos the other day and he actually looked a lot bigger. Maybe he used all that time off last year to pump some iron? He's a young, immature kid who made a stupid decision so I think, like most of us, he's allowed a second chance. No clue what to expect out of him this year, given where I assume he resides within Stoops' doghouse I'd say anything would have to be considered a bonus. The guy showed potential his freshman season, so if he can get his head on straight there's no reason to think he can't contribute. Now he'll have his hands full given all the guys ahead of him, but at the same time there's a reason why he's on scholarship at OU and it's not because the kid can't play.
Justin McCay- Almost a less polished Dejuan Miller clone, at least from a physical stand point. McCay came in very raw as a WR and spent last year working with Norvell on becoming more consistent in his routes. By all accounts he has made significant progress and is expected to see the field this year in some capacity. A former basketball players, the coaches have repeatedly remarked about his ability to block-out his defender and make it nearly impossible for the DB to separate him from the ball. If he can prove to Landry that he can be trusted to be where he needs to be, when he needs to be there, then he could be a very valuable addition to this offense. Much like I've begged the coaches to do with Miller, I'd love to see McCay featured in some goal line packages as a flex TE type guy. I just think both he and Miller could so easily exploit a match-up like that in that part of the field that OU would almost be guaranteed six points every time.
Sheldon McClain- McClain is a kid who suffered a knee injury his senior season and had almost no chance of playing last year. So he didn't and instead used the year to get healthy and transform his body into that of a D-I receiver. According to reports, he has built on a good deal of muscle and looks like a different guy than when he first arrived. He is a very smooth receiver, with excellent hands, and above average speed. Before his injury, he was garnering a lot of attention from some big name schools then most bailed after he got hurt. OU stuck by him and he's looking to show them the rewards of doing so this coming year.
Kameel Jackson- One of the earliest commits OU got in their 2011 class (he committed his junior year), Jackson is one of two WRs OU signed in this class. He projects as more of a possession type guy rather than a real burner. In high school, he had an uncanny ability to get open in small spaces and he has some good stop-and-start moves once in the open field. Unlike a lot of young WRs, he's a pretty good route runner so that will play in his favor with respect to getting on the field early in his career. As for 2011, I just think there is too much talent ahead of him and he'll spend next season as a redshirt.
Trey Metoyer- It's pronounced "Muh-twyer" for anyone who didn't already know and trust me when I saw this kid is going to be too good for you to not know how to say his name. If you can believe it, the first five star WR OU has ever signed and, at least based on what he did in high school, worth every one of them. If you've never seen him play, I'd compare him to (and admittedly, I'm not expert at this kind of thing) a faster Malcolm Kelly. Kelly had arguably the best set of hands of any OU WR and Metoyer just might be his equal. The kid catches absolutely everything he touches and if drops more than a handful of passes during his 4-5 years on campus I'd be shocked. He also is incredible at jump balls, almost always timing his jump just right to catch it at its highest point and beat his defender.
Now there is some speculation surrounding his grades and whether or not he'll qualify. Whorn fans would have you believe that this was the reason they never offered and we're all aware of the blissful, arrogance induced, dream world they live in so the rest of us will simply acknowledge the fact that Sooner Nation will gladly welcome him into the family. Now, back on topic with respect to his grades there is simply no way to really know until about May at the earliest. So anything you hear between now and then is pure speculation and should not be believed. By all accounts, Metoyer is doing all that he possibly can to get his grades in order and is not taking his future in Norman lightly. Therefore, there is no reason to believe he won't qualify and become yet another weapon in the 2011 OU aresnal.
I've been saying that I fully expect him to be the third starting WR before the season is out, but really I think that spot is interchangeable. By that I mean I think all the candidates just bring something unique to the role. Franks and his blinding speed, Miller and McCay with their size, and Metoyer and his hands/jump ball ability. They can all bring something to the offense and I expect all to be used, assuming health, extensively.