Sterling Shepard offense highlights (via icastroII)
The major concern for a most of the summer has been the receiving game. In the shadows of the disappointment of Courtney Gardner failing to qualify and Kameel Jackson being dismissed from the team, Trey Franks and Jaz Reynolds were both reinstated to practice while having a ways to go before either would see game time. Through the disappointment, there is a bit of a silver-lining. The additions of players like LaColtan Bester give the Sooners size while Justin Brown adds experience at the D-1 level. Trey Metoyer becomes the only 5-star receiver under Stoops and has lived up to the billing thus far. In a roster littered with young talent, the fate of stand-out true freshman Sterling Shepard hangs in the balance.
Sterling Shepard is listed at 5-10 185lbs heading into the fall as a slot receiver. His work ethic and natural talent have shined through in practice after practice but he could have a single fault...being a true freshman.
The easy conclusion to jump to is that Kenny Stills will see the field, no questions asked. Stills is the only returning receiver to have some sort of chemistry intact with Landry Jones while looking to lead this young but talented group of receivers. He has all the tools and know how to elevate his game after injuries last season kept him from performing at 100%. In the spring game, Stills took a few snaps in unfamiliar territory...as the slot receiver. This is certainly not a tale-tale sign of what is to come, but it is important to note that the experimentation is there.
More recently, Roy Finch has been lining up in the slot as the team reported for practices earlier this month. Finch has been a guy with a ton of potential but has yet to find his "home" on this squad. A small shifty running back with great hands coming out of the backfield may be find the slot is his ticket to playing time.
However, most will look to Trey Metoyer, a freshman phenom, and Justin Brown, the big bodied Penn St. transfer, to round out the top three receivers. At this point, the coaching staff will give every player a try until said player has proven they can't handle the pressure.
Now that we have taken a quick glance at what could happen, let's jump back to Shepard.
This is a kid who has shown a tremendous amount of promise as a local product. Before the transfer of Brown, I tabbed Shepard as the best possible option for the third receiver behind Stills and Metoyer and the best candidate to play in the slot. Heck, even Gabe Ikard was comparing this kid to the great Ryan Broyles!
Yes, both Broyles and Shepard show uncanny similarities but we have yet to know if it will translate to the field for the latter of the two.
It will be hard to find a rotation of Brown, Stills, Metoyer, Finch, Bester, Shepard, and possibly Reynolds while keeping everyone satisfied. With all that has happened in the last week, there is a possibility that Shepard receives a redshirt. I'm not holding my breath though.