The man ESPN listed as the "x-factor" for OU's offense in 2016 wasn't on the team last year. Geno Lewis transferred from Penn State last spring to finish his college career rocking Sooner colors.
While he garnered comparison to Justin Brown for obvious reasons (Brown also transferred from Penn State to Oklahoma), Lewis' career in Norman hasn't had the same trajectory. Brown caught 73 passes for 879 yards during his stint in the Sooner State, and Lewis likely won't approach that mark. However, he's already tied his total for last year in terms of receptions (17) and slightly exceeded his total yardage mark from a year ago (201 vs 196).
While Lewis is one of the most experienced wide receivers on the team, he's not one of the most experienced with the playbook, as many of the wide receivers were at Oklahoma last year for offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley's initial season with the team. That might have put Lewis at a disadvantage at first, or he may just not have been quite ready to make his mark on the team.
Whatever the cause of his slow start, he appears to be developing a slightly better trust with Baker Mayfield, and the last three games have been his best three games in terms of yards, catches, or touchdowns. His first touchdown reception of the year came last weekend against Kansas as he made a nice adjustment to come back for a ball that probably should have been thrown about two yards deeper:
The red zone touchdown isn't the only sign that Mayfield may be looking to Lewis more and more in important situations. Lewis had his name called on 3rd-and-ten earlier in the game, and he responded with a 17-yard catch for a first down.
It makes sense for Lewis to be a main option of the Sooner offense; after Dede Westbrook, he could actually be the Sooners' best receiver. Even if he's not, he's flashed some skills to show that he can be counted on to make a touch catch when it's needed.
Tough catch by Geno Lewis. #Sooners https://t.co/3GG4vwFILI— Sooner Gridiron (@soonergridiron) October 30, 2016
Oklahoma certainly has plenty of talent waiting in the wing. Freshman Mykel Jones and sophomores Nick Basquine, A.D. Miller, and Dahu Green have all flashed some signs of talent at one point or another, but none of those players appear to be quite ready to be the number 2 receiver on this Oklahoma team. Mark Andrews has gaudier numbers than Lewis and is a much more difficult matchup, but he also drops passes from time to time and may not be quite as reliable as Lewis at this point in their respective careers.
Wherever he falls on the depth chart or the talent rankings, it's good to see Lewis coming into his own more and more as the season nears the final stretch. He had several schools to choose from when he decided to transfer, and I for one am glad he made it down to Oklahoma. Hopefully his opportunities come more frequently in the coming games so he can end his short career in Norman on a high note.