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Monday, December 10, 2012
OU position grades: Receivers/tight ends

By Jake Trotter

In the weeks leading up to the AT&T Cotton Bowl, SoonerNation will look back at how the Sooners performed position by position and give each group a grade based on that performance. Today, we look at the quarterbacks:

GradeHighlights: Never was OU’s lethal ability at receiver more on display than in Bedlam. Jalen Saunders (10 catches, 162 yards), Justin Brown (15, 146) and Kenny Stills (9, 103) became the first trio in Sooners history to have more than 100 yards receiving in the same game. Freshman Sterling Shepard had a big game, too, with six catches and 65 yards, as the unit was impossible for OSU’s beleaguered secondary to keep tabs on. Bob Stoops has had some deep receiving corps before. This one proved to be as deep as any, as the Bedlam win underscored.

Lowlights: It’s hard to find a moment in which the receivers as a whole didn’t play well. Maybe against Kansas State, although Shepard had a big night in that game. Maybe Notre Dame, except Saunders set school records in that one. But this is an opportunity to hammer the tight end position, which was a lowlight all season and the impetus for OU going to the four-wide set. Tight ends collectively have caught three passes all season. It’s no wonder that, even with a tight end tradition that includes Keith Jackson and Jermaine Gresham, top high school tight end target Beau Sandland cut the Sooners from his list of finalists.

Surprises: One could make the argument in August that receiver was the biggest question on the entire team. Surprisingly, the group turned into the team’s biggest strength. Brown transferred from Penn State two weeks into the preseason, and Saunders was cleared the week of the Texas game. Both transfers turned out to be gems and integral pieces, which also took pressure and coverage off Stills. Shepard also produced more than anyone predicted he would as a freshman. The future looks bright, too. Even though Trey Metoyer and Durron Neal didn’t live up to their recruiting billing as true freshmen, both are talented and capable of breaking out next season.

Grade: A. The only drag on the group is the tight end position. Otherwise, this unit would have earned an A+. This might be the best WR corps in school history. If it’s not the best, it’s been one of the top three.