After recruiting them for several months, Oklahoma's coaching staff was finally able to talk publicly about the players the Sooners added to the program on signing day. Over the next week or so, SoonerNation will review some of the key things coaches had to say about the players signed at each position group during their signing day webcast on Soonersports.com.
Receiver Austin Bennett (Manvel, Texas/Manvel) signed with the Sooners despite late interest from Texas. His athletic traits fit right in line with the physical skills of recent Sooners slot receivers.
"Austin has a lot of the same qualities Jalen Saunders has," said receivers coach Jay Norvell, Bennett's primary recruiter. "We got to spend a lot of time with Austin at one of our satellite camps in Houston and that was a big benefit for us because we got a chance to work with him. You can look them in the eyes, tell them to do things and see how they react. I was so impressed with him. He has great agility in space. He has the ability to take direction then put it into play physically which is a real strength for a receiver. He has great characteristics, great mental toughness.”
The opportunity to evaluate prospects during those satellite camps can be invaluable. Norvell can see how a player responds to competition and how quickly they can apply coaching tips given to them during those camps. It's a way for recruits to separate themselves from other players of similar skills. And Bennett was one of those players who did exactly that last spring.
“Austin is such a good athlete he could play on both sides of the ball," running backs coach Cale Gundy said. "Obviously he’s not going to, he’s going to be on our side, but when you’re talking about a guy who could flip over and play corner, obviously he’s very talented. He’ll be a slot guy an extremely talented young man, a Jalen Saunders, Ryan Broyles-type.”
Broyles and Saunders make plays largely thanks to their quickness and open field ability and the Sooners think Bennett has the same traits. Even though Bennett only caught 42 passes for 676 yards and eight touchdowns as a senior, the Sooners are confident he can be a productive slot receiver in OU's system.
“Austin played in a great program," offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said. "We feel like he’s an electric player, he was at our camp in Houston and competed at a high level. He has the ability to make plays, great ability to make guys miss in space. His dad’s a coach, we love a lot of his makeup.”