Position Breakdown 2012: Wide Receivers/Tight Ends


The wide receiver position is extremely important in the Oklahoma offense, not only because of the emphasis on a passing attack but specifically on the emphasis of a horizontal passing attack.  Horizontal passes rely on downfield blocking and for receivers to be able to miss defenders in space.  When Landry throws deep, OU also has receivers that are good deep threats.  OU’s passing attack was strong for much of the 2011 season, however when Ryan Broyles went down with a torn ACL against Texas A&M, the passing attack failed to recover.  Broyles has graduated to the Detroit Lions of the NFL and the Sooners have to find new receivers to get the ball down the field.

Kenny Stills returns as the most important part of the OU passing attack in 2012.  The Junior from California forms one third of the “Cali Trio” and is known for his speed and his multicolor mohawk.  Kenny’s speed made him the best deep threat option for Landry, as he was on the receiving end of several long touchdowns.  Stills’ touchdown against Florida State was arguably the most important touchdown of the Sooners’ 2012 season.  The biggest flaw in Stills’ game is that he sometimes appears to be disinterested in games or even hesitant at times to go over the middle.  Stills has been a vocal leader so far in fall practice and was the face of the receiving corps at OU’s first fall press conference.  We will see going into the fall if this change in maturity is genuine, and if so, Stills could have an excellent season in store for the Sooners.

After Stills the Sooners were faced with a unique situation in that the rest of their returning receivers had all broken some various set of team rules and had been suspended.  What Jaz Reynolds, Trey Franks, and Kameel Jackson did or didn’t do is not of my concern right now.  Bob Stoops has confirmed that Jaz Reynolds and Trey Franks have been put back on scholarship and will be available to the team for the fall.  Jaz Reynolds is potentially the best deep threat on the team, although he has not been as consistent as Kenny Stills and missed some time at the end of last season with an injury.  Trey Franks provides depth for the Sooners in an offense that can target many wide receivers.  Stoops also announced that Kameel Jackson will not return to the team.

In the 2012 recruiting class the Sooners certainly focused on wide receivers and tight ends.  With the loss of James Hanna and Trent Ratterree, the Sooners signed four tight ends and will certainly rely on freshman Taylor McNamara in the passing game.  McNamara is a big tight end (6-5 234) and was ranked very highly coming out of California.

The confusion of which receivers will play in the fall also carried over to the incoming class as well.  Courtney Gardner, out of Sierra Junior College, was ruled academically ineligible for a class issue and will not be able to enroll at OU until January.  Gardner is a big wide receiver target who was originally committed to Arkansas, and was considered a good get by the Sooners.  Fellow Junior College receiver LaColtan Bester will be with the Sooners in the fall and should be an important receiver.

Also in the freshman class of receivers are Derrick Woods, out of California, Durron Neal, out of Missouri, Sterling Shepard, out of Oklahoma City, and Trey Metoyer, originally of Texas but having spent a year at Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia.  This is a very interesting and very talented group of receivers and should provide an immediate boost for the Sooners this fall.  I try not to buy into the way overhyped world of college football recruiting, but I have to admit I am excited about all four of these guys.

Sterling Shepard has received some of the best reviews from the early days of fall camp and draws many comparisons to Ryan Broyles.  Hopefully this has more to do with his ability than just a comparison based on size.  I do have to caution against reading too much into comments made by the coaching staff during practice.  This is more often than not just a PR move.  A coach might just be making these comments to build the confidence of a young player.  But it is something.

Trey Metoyer has been one of the biggest stories for the Sooners for the past year.  Metoyer (which no one seems to agree with the pronunciation of, I generally say “Muh-Twire”) was originally set to enroll at OU for the 2011 season but failed to qualify academically and spent a year at Hargrave Military Academy.  Hargrave Military Academy has produced such stars as Larry Fitzgerald and Eddie George, and since it is a preparatory school, Metoyer will not lose a year of eligibility.

Metoyer stood out at the Red and White Game during the spring.  He is a big, physical receiver who appears to have great strength.  He seems like someone who will have no problem shedding defensive backs at the line of scrimmage and being able to catch screens, passes over the middle, or deep throws.

It also appears that the Sooners will be able to add wide receiver Justin Brown who is transferring from Penn State.  Brown is a tall receiver and was the leading receiver on the Penn State team last season.  According to Jake Trotter, Brown is a big, fast receiver but probably won’t start, at least right away, for the Sooners.

Oklahoma certainly has a fair amount of unproven players in the wide receiving corps, although that lack of experience appears to be more than made up for with an abundance of physical tools.  As successful as Landry has been in his career at OU, he is yet to prove his abilities with Ryan Broyles at receiver.  If this corps of receivers are able to replace the productivity of Broyles, and Landry is able to put his trust in them, than the Sooners will have one of the best passing attacks in the country.