Monday, May 6, 2013
Crimson Countdown: WR Jalen Saunders
By Brandon Chatmon
Over the summer months, SoonerNation will take a closer look at each player on Oklahoma’s roster in our Crimson Countdown series. We will analyze each player’s impact on the program since they arrived on campus, their potential impact this fall and their long-term impact in the daily series. Starting with No. 1 Kendal Thompson, the series will go in numerical order until our final analysis of No. 99 Chaz Nelson.
From No. 1 Kendal Thompson to No. 99 Chaz Nelson, SoonerNation is evaluating the Oklahoma roster numerically. View the entire Crimson Countdown series.
Impact thus far: Nothing impacted last year’s Sooners like Saunders did when he become eligible roughly a month into the season. After playing sparingly against Texas, Saunders caught 62 passes for 829 yards and three touchdowns in eight starts. He tended to step up when OU needed him most with 100-yard games against Notre Dame, West Virginia, Oklahoma State and TCU.
Saunders joined the Sooners after two seasons at Fresno State. He had 80 receptions for 1,527 yards and 15 touchdowns in 26 career games (nine starts).
Expectations for 2013: He’ll be the go-to guy in OU’s passing game and should be one of the main playmakers on the offense. And his return abilities could change a game or two. Saunders is likely to be at the core of the offensive success the Sooners have this season.
Best-case scenario in 2013: Saunders has an All-American-type of season as his quickness, speed and playmaking ability is a nightmare for Big 12 defenses throughout the season. His work in the middle of the field creates opening in the running game and creates one-on-one situations on the outside for other pass catchers, making OU’s offense difficult to stop.
Worst-case scenario in 2013: Teams understand Saunders’ game-changing ability and make a point to try to beat him up and be physical anytime he’s in the middle of the field. While that opens up the rest of the field, it would take one of the Sooners’ best players out of the equation.
SoonerNation's evaluation for Saunders: A. Once Saunders decided to leave Fresno State it should have been a no-brainer but the Sooners did a good job convincing Saunders to come to Norman.
SoonerNation’s development grade for Saunders: A. He pretty much arrived on campus as a ready-made impact player. Nonetheless the Sooners have done a good job putting him in positions to succeed and impact games with his unique ability.