Look for tight end position to play bigger part in OU's offense in 2024 and after

Oklahoma Sooners tight end Austin Stogner (81) hauls in a reception in a game last season against archrival Texas. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Oklahoma Sooners tight end Austin Stogner (81) hauls in a reception in a game last season against archrival Texas. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports / Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Historically, the tight end position has played a prime contributing role in the Oklahoma offense. In the 2023 season, however, play from the tight ends was highly inconsistent and not up to normal standards.

To begin with, there wasn't much roster depth at the tight-end spot. With Austin Stogner returning as a transfer from South Carolina after spending his first three seasons in Norman, tight ends coach Joe Jon Finley, a star tight end in his own right at Oklahoma 2004-07), was excited about adding a veteran to the position from the transfer portal who was having an outstanding sophomore season before suffering a knee injury that forced him to miss the final three games of the season.

Stogner had 26 receptions in eight games in 2022 for 422 yards and three touchdowns. He never came close to that over three more season, including just 17 catches for 196 yards in his final season at Oklahoma. The Sooners totaled only 252 yards receiving and a pair of touchdowns out of the tight end position in 2023. That compares to an average of 51 receptions and 617 yards from the position over the three previous years.

New co-offensive coordinators Seth Littrell and Finely are obviously looking for more out of the position in 2024, but it may take some time for that to develop. With Stogner out of eligibility, the Sooners had to again turn to the transfer portal for some help. OU picked up Baylor transfer Jake Roberts and Bauer Sharp from Southwestern Louisiana University

Roberts is a fifth-year senior who is from Norman. He played at Norman North High School and played three seasons at North Texas before transferring to Baylor for the 2023 season. He played in all 12 games for Baylor last season, including three starts, with 23 receptions for 231 yards and a touchdown.

Sharp, a redshirt junior, has two years of eligibility remaining. Last season at Southwest Louisiana he started 8 of 11 games and caught 29 passes for 288 yards and three touchdowns. He also carried the ball 25 times for 133 rushing yards and five touchdowns.

Both Sharp and Roberts are 6-foot, 4 inches and 250 pounds and prior to the start of fall training camp are projected at Nos. 1 and 2 on the depth chart.

The best tight end on the roster, however, may be freshman Davon Mitchell, who was originally being recruited by the Sooners for the class of 2025 but reclassified to 2024 upon committing to Oklahoma. The former four-star recruit was ranked as the No. 13 tight end and the No. 217 player overall in the 2024 class, according to the 247Sports Composite

Mitchell is from York, Alabama on the Alabama-Mississippi state line, but he transferred to Allen, Texas, to play against better competition in the talent-rich Lone Star State. He was a Texas District 5-6A first-team selection in 2022, playing at Allen High School, the same institution that produced former Sooners QB Kyler Murray and OL Bobby Evans. In his sophomore season at Allen High School, Mitchell had 39 catches for 731 yards and nine touchdowns.

After his sophomore season in Texas, Mitchell moved to Los Alamitos, California. He chose OU over Miami and Alabama.

"I can do everything those guys can do (referring to teammates Bauer and Roberts and the four other tight ends on the roster)," Mitchell told OU beat writer for The Oklahoman recently. "Maybe even more. But I'm still learning trying to get better."

It wouldn't be a bit surprising to see the freshman Mitchell earn more and more playing time as the season progresses.