After the Oklahoma Sooners ninth practice of the OU football spring season, Jay Boulware spoke to reporters about the Sooners’ special teams unit. He seems especially interested in the men who will work as the return men: Brennan Clay, Roy Finch and Jalen Saunders.
Jay Boulware seems to believe his special teams unit should be one of the best in the country.
“You can start and end right there,” Boulware said. “I tell those guys all the time, I haven’t been around–and I’ve been around quite a bit… none of these kids that I’ve been around at my last two stops were nearly as talented as these kids are as return men. I tell these kids all the time, there’s no reason they shouldn’t be the most feared return units in the country because they are that talented, in my opinion.”
That is very high praise. In 2008, Boulware coached Leonard Johnson at the Iowa State Cyclones and the return man set the NCAA single-game record with 319 return yards in a game against the Oklahoma State Cowboys.
He feels his OU football squad should be even better.
Roy Finch has never reached his potential at OU, a running back considered to be a quicker version of Quentin Griffin. However, his lack of work ethic soured the coaching staff on him and he lost his job as the Sooners’ starting running back. He moved to receiver, but got few looks there. He ended up getting most of his work on special teams.
Finch averaged 31 yards a return in 2012 and even had a 100-yard kick return against the Kansas Jayhawks. Brennan Clay, the Sooners’ backup running back, also chipped in with 20 kick returns for 507 yards in the season.
Justin Brown was expected to be a superstar punt returner for the OU football team in 2012, but Jalen Saunders not only blew Brown out of the water in the receiving game, but also impressed well in the punt game as well. With Brown graduated and gone, Saunders will get the chance to shine this season, after averaging 17.6 yards a return in 2012.
The Oklahoma Sooners used to shine on special teams, with players like Brandon Daniels and Antonio Perkins shining examples. If Jay Boulware is right, 2013 might see a return to form for the OU football return team.
“It’s gonna be up to the other 10 members to do their jobs effectively, because if they do their jobs and get on guys, there’s gonna be some excitement that happens on the Oklahoma football field,” Boulware said.