OU's wide receivers looking to make splash

OU wide receiver Derrick Woods

It's Sterling Shepard and crew at wide receiver for the Sooners in 2014. Get to know who could be that crew.

The belief is that at Oklahoma the wide receiver position is not going to be an issue. Doesn't matter about the lack of experience. With Jay Norvell running the troops, it won't be a hindrance to the team.

Might find out how true that is this season. OU coach Bob Stoops didn't act like he was worried about the spot when he addressed the media.

For a team that only has one true starter returning to the position, Stoops didn't seem all that concerned at all.

"In the end, it's like last year, we didn't have any D-Linemen, but we do," Stoops said. "We don't have any receivers, but we do. These guys have been developing, training, ready to take over."

But there's a lot to replace. More than two-thirds of the receiving catches and yards are gone entering this season. OU caught 225 balls total last season, 154 of those receptions, or 68 percent, were from players not with the program.

OU amassed 2,588 receiving yards last season and 1,742 of those yards, or 67 percent, were from guys not on the roster.

The numbers become even more staggering when you take out Sterling Shepard's season of 61 catches for 729 yards and eight touchdowns. But Shepard isn't going anywhere as the junior will be expected to be the clear go-to option for Trevor Knight.

Stoops knows Shepard is ready for that responsibility.

"Sterling had one of the best games, after us evaluating, had as good of a receiver game as we've ever had (in Sugar Bowl)," Stoops said. "He had a monster game and not just the big plays, even some of the smaller, tighter, competitive, tough plays."

The question is who is going to join him. Luckily for OU, there are plenty of options. In the end it will come down to what it always comes down to for the Sooners – consistency.

Stoops reiterated it again to open up spring practice. It's not rocket science. The reason one player is playing instead of another is because he's more consistent in the all-around game.

Not even taking into account the four wide receivers headed to OU in the summer after an impressive Class of 2014 group, there are already almost too many guys to choose from.

"Some guys don't have a ton of experience, but I believe there's a lot of really good ability there," Stoops said.

After Shepard the next guy on the totem pole was Durron Neal. He caught 13 balls for 176 yards as a sophomore, but he made a lot of those plays early in the season.

Outside of that, nobody else in the group caught more than two balls and only sophomores Austin Bennett and Derrick Woods caught two balls last season.

Two more names to watch will be redshirt freshmen Dannon Cavil and Jordan Smallwood. Not the fastest of receivers, these are two bigger wideouts to give OU some size on the outside. Another redshirt freshman in K.J. Young will be in the mix, too.

"You know, you see it in spurts," said Norvell about the light bulb coming on for the younger guys. "When you're that young, that's the way it happens. You might have a lot of enthusiasm, but you come out one day and you have a tough day and take a step back.

"That's when you realize that really good players have to do it every day. That's the way you have to be in this league because you're going to get everybody's best shot when you're at Oklahoma"

It's great for OU to have depth at the position, but for the Sooners to contend for a championship, at least a couple of those guys are going to have to break through and be consistent options for Knight.

Opposing teams can't stick two defenders on Shepard and leave Knight wondering where he needs to go with the ball. The questions won't be answered in the next month, but early signs will give us an indicator of where things should be going moving forward.

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