Football season is almost here. And SoonersIlustrated.com is eager to get you ready for what could be a memorable 2014 season.
During the next two weeks, Bob Przybylo and Justin Hite are going to reveal their top 11 players on offense and defense and how those players will impact what happens on the field this fall. Let the countdown and debates begin.
Bob Przybylo: Wide receiver Durron Neal. Coming out of high school, there was a strong debate about who was OU’s top 2012 receiver prospect between Neal and Sterling Shepard.
It’s hard to imagine that type of conversation now following the last two seasons and just how valuable Shepard has been to the team. Neal, meanwhile, seems like he still hasn’t found his footing.
OU doesn’t need Neal in order to be successful, but what an added bonus it would be if Neal was able to finally get things rolling in the right direction for his career.
Neal has played in each of his first two seasons, even making two starts last season. But he still hasn’t caught a touchdown pass and only had 13 catches for 176 yards last season.
His attitude has been tremendous since the first day after the Allstate Sugar Bowl, and he said and did all the right things in the spring. But the spring is the spring, and he needs to show he can do it when it matters.
Completely unfair to call him a bust, but this junior season is pivotal for Neal.
Justin Hite: For once, Bob and I agree. Neal enters the list here because he enters the season as a starter but probably the starter with the least expectations. If Neal underperforms, there’s really no issue for Oklahoma.
However, the upside for the Sooners if Neal can rise to the occasion is huge. A big year from Neal – say 30 catches, 500 yards and six touchdowns – would give Oklahoma a huge boost and definitely put them in the national championship conversation.
Neal and Shepard likely will occupy a similar position, but Neal will have a chance to find his place in the offense.