Oklahoma Sooners: Jaz Reynolds
Below is a list of undrafted players who reportedly have agreed to free agent deals. This is not a final list, as teams are still working to sign undrafted free agents. But these are the players we know of so far.
- OT Kelvin Palmer, Arizona Cardinals
- RB Glasco Martin, Dallas Cowboys
- TE Jordan Najvar, Dallas Cowboys
- DE Chris McAllister, Houston Texans
- LB Terrance Lloyd, Houston Texans
- S Jacques Washington, Cleveland Browns
- S Deon Broomfield, Buffalo Bills
- TE Ernst Brun, Oakland Raiders
- OT Cornelius Lucas, Detroit Lions
- S Ty Zimmerman, New Orleans Saints
- WR Tramaine Thompson, Atlanta Falcons
- RB Brennan Clay, Denver Broncos
- S Gabe Lynn, Detroit Lions
- OG Bronson Irwin, Seattle Seahawks
- RB Damien Williams, Miami Dolphins
- RB Roy Finch, New England Patriots
- WR Jaz Reynolds, Tennessee Titans
- C Gabe Ikard, Tennessee Titans
- WR Lacoltan Bester, Houston Texans
- WR Josh Stewart, Tennessee Titans
- S Daytawion Lowe, Philadelphia Eagles
- OL Parker Graham, Baltimore Ravens
- TE Blake Jackson, Cleveland Browns
- DT Calvin Barnett, Cleveland Browns
- RB Jeremy Smith, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- LB Caleb Lavey, Dallas Cowboys
- WR Charlie Moore, Detroit Lions
- CB Carrington Byndom, Carolina Panthers
- OG Trey Hopkins, Cincinnati Bengals
- DT Chris Whaley, Dallas Cowboys
- WR Mike Davis, Oakland Raiders
- OG Donald Hawkins, Philadelphia Eagles
- DE Jackson Jeffcoat, Seattle Seahawks
The NFL draft came and went last weekend without a player from University of Texas being taken for the first time since 1937. Meanwhile, OU had four Sooners selected on Saturday, including two fourth-round picks in Jalen Saunders and Aaron Colvin.
Here’s a breakdown of the Sooners selected and how they could fit with their new teams.
WR Jalen Saunders, 4th round, N.Y. Jets
The fit: The Jets should be a good fit for Saunders as they badly need guys who can change a game in one play. Expect him to help the Jets immediately on special teams.
Best-case scenario: Saunders takes over as the punt returner and finds a role in the offense as a slot receiver to complement Eric Decker and Stephen Hill.
Worst-case scenario: Questions about his size come to fruition as he’s manhandled by bigger cornerbacks, or worse yet, the injury bug hits.
CB Aaron Colvin, 4th round, Jacksonville Jaguars
The fit: It’s probably not the best fit for Colvin to go to a franchise that has struggled for years. The Jaguars’ probable on-field struggles could put a damper on a rookie season that will be spent on the sideline. That said, Jacksonville is trying to rebuild with young players and Colvin fits the bill.
Best-case scenario: At the organization’s request, Colvin takes his time rehabbing his ACL injury, which he suffered at the Senior Bowl in January, and returns to 100 percent before he gets on the field for the first time. Ideally, he could return late in his rookie season and get his feet wet down the home stretch.
Worst-case scenario: Colvin has some type of setback that puts his 2015 season in question, particularly if it is sparked by any type of impatience from the organization.
LB Corey Nelson, 7th round, Denver Broncos
The fit: The Broncos could end up with a steal in Nelson, who looked poised for a superb senior season before a pectoral injury. For Nelson, it’s a good situation because he has to potential to fill multiple linebacker spots and help on special teams for a team that needs to fill roster spots as cheaply as possible after a high-spending offseason.
Best-case scenario: Nelson becomes a staple on special teams while becoming someone the coaching staff thinks can help on defense in the future.
Worst-case scenario: Nelson doesn’t make the roster.
FB Trey Millard, 7th round, San Francisco 49ers
The fit: Much like Colvin, Millard is coming off an ACL injury. But the 49ers are the perfect fit for Millard, who is physical and versatile and should become a useful piece in San Francisco’s offense.
Best-case scenario: Millard takes his time returning to 100 percent. Once he returns the field, he essentially becomes Colin Kaepernick’s bodyguard in the backfield while becoming a key special team player.
Worst-case scenario: Millard never returns to the player he was before an ACL injury ended his senior season.
Undrafted Sooners signees
S Gabe Lynn, Detroit Lions: Lynn should get an opportunity on a Lions team in need of defensive backs.
C Gabe Ikard, Tennessee Titans: Ikard’s versatility could help him make the Titans roster, as he can play three spots in the interior.
WR Jaz Reynolds, Tennessee Titans: If Reynolds can maximize his physical ability, he could earn a spot on the roster or practice squad.
G Bronson Irwin, Green Bay Packers: Irwin, much like Ikard, could find himself on the Packers roster if he shows the versatility he did in crimson and cream.
RB Roy Finc, New England Patriots: If Finch can show his big-play ability as a returner, his chances of sticking in New England increase.
RB Brennan Clay, Denver Broncos: The Broncos are a solid fit for Clay, who was easily OU’s most complete running back last season and could earn himself a spot on the roster by being dependable at running back and making an impact on special teams.
RB Damien Williams, Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins have several young running backs who could make things tough on Williams, but he has NFL ability.
WR Lacoltan Bester, Houston Texans: Bester will have to impress on special teams first if he hopes to make the roster.
Team of the week: Texas. Not only did the Longhorns pull off the biggest Red River upset in 17 years, they completely reversed the outlook of their season. At 3-0 in the Big 12 standings, Texas is right in the middle of the conference race. The Longhorns also finally found an identity in Dallas, which could make them a tough out during the second half of the season. The Longhorns ran the ball with authority between the tackles behind their experienced offensive line, which took pressure off quarterback Case McCoy. Defensive coordinator Greg Robinson, meanwhile, disguised his defenses beautifully and utilized Texas’ speed in timely blitzes. Baylor remains the favorite to win the Big 12 crown. But Texas, which travels to Baylor in the regular-season finale, could be a factor. What a difference a week makes.
Big (offensive) men on campus: The Texas offensive line, Kansas State quarterback Daniel Sams and Texas Tech tight end Jace Amaro.
The most experienced offensive line in the Big 12 blocked like it at the most opportune of times. Kennedy Estelle, Mason Walters, Dominic Espinosa, Trey Hopkins and Donald Hawkins paved the way for Johnathan Gray and Malcolm Brown to become the first Texas duo to top 100 rushing yards apiece in the same Red River game. The Bevos up front also kept McCoy upright, as the Texas quarterback was not sacked all day and barely pressured, either.
In Manhattan, Sams played valiantly in K-State’s 35-25 loss to Baylor. He rushed for 199 yards and three touchdowns and almost single-handedly kept the Wildcats scoring with the high-powered Bears. Sams' late interception that effectively ended the game was a huge mistake. But his 86.1 Adjusted QBR was 13th-best in college football for the week. Sams now is second in the Big 12 in Adjusted QBR (86.5) for the year, trailing only Baylor’s Bryce Petty (95.1).
Amaro continues to be a security blanket for Texas Tech’s true freshman quarterbacks. Against Iowa State, he had his best game yet with nine receptions for 143 yards. Amaro leads the Big 12 with 47 receptions. Teammate Eric Ward is second with 34.
Big (defensive) men on campus: Kansas State defensive end Ryan Mueller, Baylor safety Ahmad Dixon and Texas defensive ends Jackson Jeffcoat and Cedric Reed.
Along with Sams, Mueller was a major reason the Wildcats were in the game in the fourth quarter. In what might be the defensive highlight of the season in the Big 12 so far, Mueller stripped Petty while simultaneously recovering the fumble to set K-State with field position in the third quarter that would turn into a go-ahead touchdown. Mueller finished with seven tackles, two sacks and a pass breakup.
Dixon, meanwhile, came up with the defensive play of the game, as he beelined to the sideline to intercept Sams with four minutes to play. Off the turnover, the Baylor offense sealed the victory with a touchdown that put the Bears up two scores.
Jeffcoat and Reed, meanwhile, were terrific against the Sooners. The swarming defensive end duo totaled three sacks and kept the Oklahoma running backs from bouncing much of anything outside.
Johnson delivered the dagger to the Sooners with a weaving 85-yard punt return touchdown late in the third quarter, which put the Longhorns ahead 30-13. It was Texas’ first punt return touchdown since Jordan Shipley did it in 2009. Fera came up big on special teams, too. He nailed a 43-yard field goal right before halftime that stymied the Sooners’ momentum from a long Roy Finch kick return that led to a touchdown the previous drive. Fera also nailed 50- and 31-yard field goals to be perfect on the day.
West kept the Cyclones above water in the first half as the Iowa State offense struggled. His 95-yard kickoff return -- Iowa State’s first non-onside kick return for a touchdown since 1994 -- tied the game in the first quarter 7-7. West later added a 38-yard punt return, and he finished with three receptions for 36 yards.
Play of the week: With the Red River Rivalry tied 3-3 in the first quarter, Texas' Adrian Phillips came off the edge untouched on a third-down zone blitz and slammed into Bell. The hit caused Bell’s pass to flutter behind intended receiver Jaz Reynolds and into the arms of defensive tackle Chris Whaley, who rumbled 31 yards for the touchdown. The Longhorns never gave up the lead the rest of the way.
Stat of the week: Bell’s QBR against Texas was the lowest by an Oklahoma quarterback since Rhett Bomar posted a 1.6 against Tulsa in 2005.
Quote of the week: "We love the guy. We’re playing for the guy. You all keep writing those articles bad about him. We’ll keep playing for him." -- McCoy on coach Mack Brown
Here are five things we’ve learned about OU’s offense in the first three games.
Oklahoma’s offense is more explosive when the passing game clicks: The Sooners looked like two different offenses from Week 2 to Week 3. Blake Bell took over the quarterback duties from Trevor Knight and the Sooners passing game finally clicked. But was that because they were playing Tulsa and the Golden Hurricane had watched the Sooners struggle for two straight weeks? Or was Bell just that much better than Knight? We’ll found out as the season progresses but one thing is pretty clear: OU’s offense has too many talented pass-catchers to lean solely on its running game this season. The Sooners’ use of four-receiver sets should continue if they hope to challenge defenses this fall.
The more receivers involved, the better: Bell spread the ball around much better than Knight did in his start against Tulsa. He targeted 11 different receivers and completed passes to 10 different pass-catchers as OU reeled off 51 points with ease. He didn’t really have a “favorite” receiver, instead finding the open man and even looking off defenders to create seams in the secondary. He looked like the veteran he is and took advantage of the talents of Sterling Shepard, Jaz Reynolds and Durron Neal, who were largely quiet when Knight was under center. If Bell continues to spread the ball around, OU’s offense continues to be dangerous.
The Sooners have a deep group of running backs: They have three senior running backs who have proven to be playmakers, yet true freshman Keith Ford has generated all the buzz in Norman with his physical running style. That’s how deep the Sooners are at running back. Brennan Clay has been outstanding with 262 yards in three games and OU is averaging 5.4 yards per carry in 2013. Their depth will allow them to keep Clay, Roy Finch and Damien Williams from getting banged up as they split carries without sacrificing production.
Still no tight ends: Raise your hand if you’re surprised. Anyone? The Sooners don’t use a tight end instead, opting to use Trey Millard. And it’s the right move and a natural progression for a coaching staff looking to put its best 11 players on the field. So while there’s no player listed as a tight end on the field, Millard is playing that role on a significant portion of snaps. And playing it well.
Finch might actually touch the ball more, Millard will not: Seeing Finch on the field is awe-inspiring, if only because he’s actually on the field. The senior is making the same plays he’s always made but clearly is doing the right thing off the field as well since he’s getting consistent chances to make plays. Millard, meanwhile, will never have to worry about opportunities to step on the field. In fact he’s too valuable, that’s why OU doesn’t want the ball in his hands to limit his bumps and bruises. Millard is averaging 3.3 touches per game, Finch is averaging 6 offensive touches per game. Millard averaged 4.9 touches per game and Finch averaged 0.69 offensive touches per game in 2012.
- Baylor is preparing for Louisiana-Monroe, who could be the Bears' toughest test thus far, writes John Werner of the Waco Tribune.
- Iowa State should get its veteran center Tom Farniok back for Tulsa, writes Bobby Le Gesse of the Ames Tribune.
- Even though the Cyclones aren't off to a good start, don't expect any changes on the coaching staff during the season, writes Randy Peterson of the Des Moines Register.
- Kansas quarterback Jake Heaps is off to a slow start but Charlie Weis isn't worried about the BYU transfer, writes Matt Tait of the Lawrence Journal-World.
- A former walk-on could help Kansas State's running game, writes Kellis Robinett of the Wichita Eagle.
- Oklahoma receiver Jaz Reynolds looks back on sitting out last season: "There were plenty of tough days." But Reynolds has returned to good standing in the Sooners' program, writes Eric Bailey of the Tulsa World.
- Oklahoma State will investigate claims made in Sports Illustrated's series on Cowboys football, writes Kelly Hines of the Tulsa World.
- "You can stop the rumors by winning," Texas coach Mack Brown says. Chuck Carlton has the story for the Dallas Morning News.
- TCU's offense is dealing with an identity crisis, writes Stefan Stevenson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
- A selfless attitude has helped spark Texas Tech's 3-0 start and it can be seen in the blocking by the Red Raiders' receivers, writes Krista Pirtle of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.
- West Virginia is showing signs of having quality depth on its roster, writes Dave Hickman of the Charleston Gazette.
And it wasn’t just the production.
OU returned to more four-receiver sets, leaned on its passing game instead of its running game and recorded more explosive plays in the Sooners’ 51-20 win over Tulsa last Saturday. Most importantly, quarterback Blake Bell sparked the Sooners with his poise, accuracy and efficiency.
A glimpse at the numbers provides a clearer view of the differences between the Sooners’ offense against Tulsa and how Bell helped change the offense.
- The Sooners had six plays of 20 yards or more against Tulsa. OU had two plays of 20 yards or more in its first two games combined. Time and time again Bell’s accuracy allowed his receivers to catch the ball on the run and continue to gain yardage. His 82-yard connection with Jaz Reynolds was a quick pass but its accuracy allowed Reynolds to break free for a big gain.
- Bell’s 96.7 Total QBR was third best among FBS quarterbacks in Week 3 and was the highest QBR by a Sooners signal-caller in a game since Sam Bradford recorded a 99.0 against Baylor in 2008.
- Bell targeted 11 different receivers while completing 27 of 37 passes for 413 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions. The junior spread the ball around to different receivers and generally found the open receiver without staring down his intended target. By comparison, Trevor Knight, who started OU’s first two games, targeted eight different receivers in two games combined.
- Bell connected at least 50 percent of the time with 10 of those 11 targeted receivers. Brennan Clay was targeted once, resulting in a incompletion. Sterling Shepard had the best reception percentage, catching 8 of 9 targets (88.8 percent) for 123 yards and two touchdowns.
- The Sooners’ quick start was one of the keys to the game. Bell was 5 of 7 for 133 yards in the first quarter as the Sooners scored two touchdowns and a field goal in their first three possessions. Knight was 7 of 15 for 71 yards, one touchdown and one interception combined in the first quarter during his two starts. OU averaged 9.11 yards per play against Tulsa after averaging 3.47 yards per play in the first quarter of its first two games.
It’s hard to lean on sheer numbers to differentiate between Knight and Bell. Tulsa came out with a focus on slowing the Sooners’ running game, which came into the contest averaging 310.5 yards per game. OU responded in kind with a focus on jump-starting its lackluster passing attack.
“Obviously, we were emphasizing and trying to boost and improve our passing game,” coach Bob Stoops said. “We’re going to choose what we run according to what defenses are out there and the personnel we have. If you noticed, their defense is not like what we had seen the last two weeks.”
Nonetheless, the offense was night and day compared to the unit that stepped on the Oklahoma Memorial Stadium turf during the first two weeks of the season. That’s why Blake Bell has left no doubt who will be the Sooners’ starting quarterback moving forward.
“You can’t deny what he just went out there and did,” Stoops said. “I’m proud of him and excited for him. Again, I think it also speaks to his character as a guy that was ready for it. He never got down, never changed his attitude. He got his chance and he took great advantage of it.”
With this is mind, SoonerNation has parsed out Oklahoma’s roster into 10 separate tiers. Here they are:
Tier 1: The Elite (Guys who could play for almost anyone)
No. 16 Jaz Reynolds
Receiver, 6-foot-2, 198 pounds, senior
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Today's question: Jalen Saunders and Sterling Shepard are locks to start at receiver for the Sooners in 2013. Who will be OU's third starting wideout?
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Gone are Kenny Stills and Justin Brown – or 155 receptions, 1,838 yards and 16 touchdowns – creating a huge void several players are vying to fill.
“There’s been a lot of competition at the receiver position,” said receivers coach Jay Norvell. “Several guys are doing a lot of good things. We’re just trying to find guys who can be accountable and trustworthy -- who can be dependable day in and day out.”
Those fighting for a starting role, or at a spot in the rotation, include seniors Jaz Reynolds and Lacoltan Bester, sophomores Trey Metoyer and Durron Neal and freshmen Derrick Woods and Dannon Cavil. While none so far has assured himself of playing time, these next two weeks of spring ball will go a long way in determining who plays -- and who doesn’t -- next season.
“We have a lot of guys that are in that range right now in that they show flashes, but haven’t been able to show that consistency to line up in that first unit,” Norvell said. “But that is what spring practice is all about, though, and we’ve had guys show up every day and compete and execute. The guys that do that at the end of spring usually win those spots for the fall.”
Going into the spring, Bester, who transferred in from junior college last year, seemed like the least likely emerge out of the competition. After playing sporadically early, Bester fell completely out of rotation as younger players passed him on the depth chart; he finished with only three catches all season.
Bester, however, has brought a new attitude to spring ball, which has helped him make the plays in practice he didn’t last year.
Through the first half of spring ball, we’ve updated the “Oklahoma 10,” which – you guessed it – features many new faces:
2. CB Aaron Colvin (4): Where would the Sooners be if Colvin had joined Tony Jefferson and left early for the draft? He is the best player on this defense by a mile. What’s just as encouraging for a unit with so many young players is the leadership role Colvin appears to be seizing. Mike Stoops has plenty to worry about as he retools his defense. But he doesn’t have to worry about having someone the rest of his guys can look up to. Nor does he have to worry about Colvin locking up the receiver on his side of the field.
3. WR Jalen Saunders (6): By last season’s end, Saunders might have been the best receiver on the roster. The stats certainly support that notion, as he topped all OU receivers in yards after the catch and completion percentage on balls thrown his way. With Kenny Stills gone, there’s no doubt who the Sooners’ No. 1 option in the passing game will be next season, and Saunders looks ready to take on the burden of being the team’s definitive go-to receiver.
4. RB Damien Williams (NR): Who knows what kind of season Williams would have finished with had he been able to stay healthy? Despite a midseason ankle injury, Williams still rushed for 946 yards, which included four touchdown runs of 60 yards or more in OU’s first five games. The home-run threat put in the work over the offseason, and now weighs close to 215 pounds, which should only enhance his durability. If he can stick on the field and avoid the training room, Williams is more than capable of producing an All-Big 12 season.
5. C Gabe Ikard (9): Bob Stoops said he isn’t worrying about his center missing contact in the spring with a broken hand, and neither should you. Ideally, Ikard would be out there developing a rapport with new line coach Bill Bedenbaugh. But Ikard has 37 career starts, and two All-Big 12 seasons behind him. He’ll be ready to go when it counts.
6. WR Sterling Shepard (NR): Shepard has been dynamic since he stepped on campus, and has continued to get better this spring. Shepard has firmly entrenched himself as the offense’s No. 2 passing option behind Saunders, and is in line to be a No. 1 guy later in his career.
7. LB Corey Nelson (NR): Two springs ago, Bob Stoops said Nelson called the best player on the defense. That honor belongs to Colvin, but Nelson is the only other two-year contributor. The plan at the moment is to utilize Nelson is more ways than one, which is a step in the right direction considering he wasn’t utilized at all last season. The only chance for this defense to be more than mediocre is if Nelson plays – and plays at a high level.
8. OG Bronson Irwin (NR): The “War Daddy” has taken on a greater leadership role on the line with Ikard sidelined for the moment. Irwin, quietly coming off a banner junior season in which he played through multiple injuries, is one major reason why the offensive line has been controlling the trenches this spring.
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In 2012, however, Oklahoma was formidable at the position. So formidable, in fact, that OU went almost exclusively with a four-wide receiver set the second half of the season.
Half of that foursome is now gone, with Justin Brown graduating and Kenny Stills leaving early to enter the NFL draft. But enough pieces remain for the Sooners to be strong at wideout again.
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Ultimately the class should be considered sub-par. About half of the 24 signees became contributors, with Hurst, Ikard, defensive end Ronnell Lewis and tackle Lane Johnson highlighting the list as the only all-conference performers. OU’s class featured six ESPN 150 members but only Lewis learned All-Big 12 honors.
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Bob Stoops, however, said the Sooners remain excited about Metoyer’s future despite the disappointing freshman season.
“We’re very excited about Trey,” Stoops said. “He works hard and has a good attitude. Things didn’t quite click as fast as we thought, overall. Then you had some guys with experience that come about like (transfers) Justin Brown and Jalen Saunders -- those guys have played a lot of football.
“I think Trey has a really bright future and believe it will happen for him. Sometimes it just needs a little more time.”
Along with Metoyer, rising sophomore Durron Neal will also compete for playing time at outside receiver. When they go with three-receiver sets, the Sooners could also swing Saunders to the outside. Saunders played the slot out of OU’s four-receiver sets last season, but lined up on the outside at times at Fresno State.
One other player to watch is senior Jaz Reynolds, who did not play last season after he was suspended for the third time in his career during the offseason.
Reynolds, however, has been productive at different times as an outside receiver during his career, and is capable of providing the Sooners with a big-play threat downfield. But to get back on the field, Reynolds still has much to show the coaching staff, both on and off the field.
“He’ll determine that by his work ethic and his actions off the field and those kinds of things,” Stoops said of Reynolds. “He’ll have a chance to, but it’s fair to say it won’t be easy.
“We’ll see what he’s able to do. He’ll have to earn it.”