Bob Stoops has long held a standard in bringing quality junior college prospects to finish their collegiate careers at Oklahoma since his arrival in Norman 18 years ago. While a few of those touted prospects never made it onto the field or failed to find success for a multitude of reasons, whether academic or otherwise, the Sooners have also landed a few gems and playmakers, including an electric Biletnikoff winner, along the way. Early enrollees Marcelias Sutton and Marquise Brown hope they find themselves in the latter group and that their head start this spring will set them up to become impact players like a few fellow JUCO Sooners from seasons past.
WR Marquise Brown, College of the Canyons (Valencia, CA)
The Marquise Brown hype train is fully fueled and ready for departure. Not much more can really be said that hasn’t already about the expectations the slender speedster arrived with this spring in Norman.
All eyes will be on this young man whose comparisons, as apt as they may prove to be, are quite lofty and a bit unfair given his size concerns, the addition of graduate transfer Jeff Badet and the true impact of the high-wire act he’s following. But this is Oklahoma and high expectations are what we’re made of. Sooner fans have no reason to believe Brown couldn’t or won’t live up to the “next Dede Westbrook” tag that he carries with him into this weekend’s Spring Game. But the process is a process, as even Westbrook took time to blossom into the star the nation saw him eventually become. As Graham pointed out, though, a deep connection or two downfield this weekend and the Marquise Brown hype train is full steam ahead through the spring, summer and beyond.
Marquise Brown Highlights
RB Marcelias Sutton, Lackawanna C.C. (Scranton, PA)
Bouncing back from a stress fracture this offseason and expected to play on Saturday’s Spring Game is Marquise Brown’s roommate, the small but shifty running back Marcelias Sutton — a field scorcher in his own right. The versatile athlete originally from North Carolina joins fellow Lackawanna C.C. products Emmanuel Beal and Kapri Doucet in Norman this spring, and hopes to navigate his way into the wide-open competition for the most carries behind Rodney Anderson next fall. While not quite the height or build of former JUCO standout and current Miami Dolphin Damien Williams, Sutton clearly possesses the body, talent and burst to make an impact in the likely running back by committee behind Anderson, as Lincoln Riley recently told Sooner Scoop that Sutton’s a “dynamite runner [who] runs angry; that’s the best way I can describe it.” He also has great potential to be an impact performer on special teams right away with all the tools to be lethal in the open field.
Marcelias Sutton Highlights
So whose footsteps aside from Dede Westbrook’s are Marquise Brown and Marcelias Sutton hoping to follow from junior college prospects to impact players in Norman? Here’s a look back at some of those gems including the aforementioned Damien Williams as well as wide receivers Cameron Kenney, LaColtan Bester and do-it-all unsung hero/adept fumble recovery expert Allen Patrick.
Damien Williams (RB – 2012-13), Arizona Western C.C. (Yuma, AZ)
Named to the All-Big 12 Second Team as a junior in 2012, Damien Williams burst onto the Norman scene with a 103-yard effort on 10 carries in his debut and quickly stole the show from incoming starter Brennan Clay. Flanking the pocket-passing Landry Jones in the backfield, Williams displayed incredible speed, agility and broken tackles from the get-go, fully cementing himself as the Sooners’ starter by conference play. His signature moment in the crimson and cream came on an electrifying, 95-yard end-zone run to break open the 2012 Red River Shootout — the longest touchdown rush in series’ history — and propelled OU to a 63-21 win over archrival Texas. Though his time in Norman was cut short following multiple team rules violations leading to his dismissal from the team before Bedlam in 2013, “DD” still had the support of his college coach and program and was allowed to participate in OU’s Pro Day, which he’s parlayed into a sustained role in the backfield and special teams at the next level in Miami.
Damien Williams, Red River Shootout 2012
LaColtan Bester (WR – 2012-13), East Mississippi C.C. (Scooba, MS)
Although mostly utilized on special teams his first year in Norman, LaColtan Bester — an OU All-Name Team mainstay — came through on many occasions as a senior for the three quarterbacks the Sooners were forced to play through the 2013 season. The big body and trick-play specialist in the potent wide receiver unit that included Jalen Saunders, Durron Neal and Sterling Shepard, Bester did whatever was asked of him for a makeshift Oklahoma offense that struggled all year with scheme and inconsistent quarterback play. Bester was such a jack of all trades that he even decided to toss a touchdown himself in a road win at Kansas before eventually capping his Sooner career with 105 yards and the OU’s first touchdown in the 2014 Sugar Bowl win against Alabama.
LaColtan Bester Highlights
Allen Patrick (DB/RB – 2005-07), Independence C.C. (Independence, KS)
Remember Allen Patrick? You know, the hard-hitting defensive back and savior of the 2006 season who made the spectacular switch to running back following an injury to Adrian Peterson in 2005? Oh yeah, he also won that silly game against Oregon in Eugene, too.
Yep, that Allen Patrick, who rushed for 100+ yards four times filling in for AD after the collarbone injury against Iowa State in ‘06, including 173 yards on 32 carries at Texas A&M. He also put the stamp on a Bedlam win that same season with his 65-yard burst down the middle for a touchdown on the first play in the second half. Patrick, also a star on special teams, further terrorized Little Brother the following season, rushing for a career-high 202 yards and three scores. The selfless teammate with eye-popping hidden talents was voted a co-captain as a senior in 2007 and named the starter over future 1,000-yard rushers DeMarco Murray and Chris Brown in the Sooners’ second-straight Big 12 championship run, the first with Sam Bradford at the helm.
Allen Patrick Highlights
Cameron Kenney (WR – 2009-10), Garden City C.C. (Garden City, KS)
Best known for the game-breaking fourth-quarter touchdown in the roller-coaster ride that was 2010 Bedlam, Georgia native Cameron Kenney came to OU in 2009 expecting to catch passes from reigning Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford and help fill the role left vacant by graduating stars Manny Johnson and Juaquin Iglesias following the Sooners’ BCS title game appearance the prior season. As Bradford’s limited senior season was marred by injury, Kenney’s began inconsistently, as did the rest of the OU offense under a young and oft-overwhelmed Landry Jones, but the sure-handed wideout eventually built a rapport with his signal caller and saved his biggest games for last. His 141 yards on six receptions and two huge touchdowns came in that breathtaking, regular-season-ending win at Stillwater (on my birthday), then wrapped up his Sooner career with a career-high 154 yards against Connecticut, second only to NCAA record-holder Ryan Broyles, in OU’s 48-20 win in the 2011 Fiesta Bowl.
Cameron Kenney Highlights
Of course, there have also been a few impact players from the JUCO ranks on the defensive side of the ball, too, including 2001 Orange Bowl MVP Torrance Marshall (DAMN RIGHT!), five-star linebacker Lance Mitchell, C.J. Ah You, Donte Nicholson and Chijoke Onyenegecha (depending on your interpretation of the type of impact), as well as current Sooners Emmanuel Beal and Kapri Doucet. But they would be part of another piece for another day. So I’ll just leave you with another Dede Westbrook highlight, because why not.