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Monday, August 27, 2012
Closer look at OU receiver transformation

By Brandon Chatmon

Here’s a closer look at the individual progression of the receivers at Oklahoma over the past three months since Jaz Reynolds and Trey Franks were suspended on May 20.

Kenny Stills, junior

Kenny Stills
Keny Stills has 122 catches and 13 touchdowns in two years as a Sooner.
Then: Stills looked like he would have to carry a large portion of the playmaking burden as the only receiver in good standing who had made a reception in an OU uniform.

Now: With the addition of Justin Brown, Stills is no longer the only veteran pass catcher on the roster and no longer has to serve as the main mentor and leader of the receivers. Stills has moved into the slot and is getting comfortable in the position manned by All-American Ryan Broyles for the past few seasons.

Trey Metoyer, freshman

Then: Metoyer was the star of the spring and emerged as a playmaker during his first semester on campus. He was set to join Stills as Landry Jones’ main targets.

Now: Nothing has changed for Metoyer, who could still be a difference-maker in OU’s offense. And yet the pressure on the true freshman has lessened with Brown’s arrival. He’s likely to have more room to operate with less defensive attention as the lone unproven receiver in the starting lineup alongside Stills and Brown.

Justin Brown, senior

Then: Brown was set to be “the man” for Penn State during Bill O’Brien’s first season. With the Nittany Lions moving to a pass-happy attack, Brown was slated to get plenty of opportunities to catch the ball and plenty of defensive attention in the Big Ten.

Now: Brown has brought a consistent, veteran presence to the Sooners while joining an explosive offense run by a Heisman Trophy candidate. He gets the opportunity to compete for a championship while catching a lot of footballs.

LaColtan Bester, junior

Then: Bester had just signed with the Sooners days before the suspensions after recording 76 catches for 1,042 yards and 17 touchdowns in junior college in 2011. His future was uncertain until early May, when OU expressed interest in the unsigned receiver.

Now: Bester arrived in Norman in late July and had an impressive preseason camp, showing he was ready to make a immediate impact. He should provide quality depth.

Sterling Shepard, freshman

Then: The Under Armour All-American was a February signee who was going to be counted on to grow up quickly to help lessen the pressure on Stills and Metoyer.

Now: He was one of the stars of summer workouts and had a solid preseason camp, showing excellent ball skills and a knack for making plays.

Durron Neal, freshman

Then: A lot was expected from the U.S. Army All-American after the suspensions as many expected the Sooners to look to Neal for to play a lot early in his career.

Now: Neal had his good days and bad days during camp but he showed his playmaking ability and looks poised to help OU if called upon.

Derrick Woods, freshman

Then: Woods, a February signee and U.S. Army All-American, was preparing to make an immediate impact while getting more comfortable at the receiver position after playing multiple positions in high school.

Now: Woods is coming along as he gets used to playing at OU. Getting familiar with the demands of playing receiver at the Division I level should be his top priority.

NOT CURRENTLY ELIGIBLE FOR GAME ACTION

Jalen Saunders, junior

Then: Saunders had just transferred to OU in early May and was coming off a sophomore season with 50 receptions for 1,065 yards and 12 touchdowns to earn All-WAC first team honors at Fresno State.

Now: Saunders is currently awaiting word from the NCAA on his eligibility. During preseason camp, Saunders impressed with his quickness and speed. If he becomes eligible, he’ll be an impact receiver this fall.

Jaz Reynolds, junior

Then: Reynolds had just been suspended and his long-term future at OU was in doubt.

Now: He earned reinstatement before preseason camp but is not eligible for game action. Reynolds has been practicing with the team and could return to game action at some point this season if he continues to meet the team's requirements.