The indefinite suspensions of receivers Trey Franks, Jaz Reynolds and Kameel Jackson on Wednesday puts the Sooners incoming receiver class in the crosshairs. The suspended receiving trio combined for 75 receptions for 1,079 yards and five touchdowns in 2011.
2012 signees Durron Neal, Derrick Woods, Courtney Gardner and Sterling Shepard arrive on campus this summer and will need to adjust quickly and be ready to make an immediate impact if none of the suspended receivers are reinstated before the season starts.
Spring-enrollee freshman Trey Metoyer has already made an impact and should be a key member of the receiving corps but, even with his immense talent, he is likely to experience growing pains that all young players go through. Nonetheless, if this spring was any indication, Metoyer should be able to provide a quality target for quarterback Landry Jones
The biggest burden, however, is likely to land on Kenny Stills. The junior receiver is the lone non-suspended receiver who has caught a pass in an OU uniform. But that’s not important during the next few months. The Sooners will need Stills to embrace a mentorship role and make preparing his young teammates his top priority.
Receivers coach Jay Norvell and the rest of the Sooners coaching staff aren’t allowed to observe summer workouts, so Stills will have to take a coach-like role this summer. The nuances of playing the position, including getting off bump and run coverage, route depth and technique, are building blocks to gaining a quarterback’s trust so Stills will have to emphasize those little things during summer workouts. Teaching the Sooners' five newcomers at receiver -- including Metoyer -- during the summer months has become critical.
And Stills needs to be the one to do it. OU’s leading returning receiver with 61 receptions for 849 yards and eight touchdowns, Stills should be able to match that type of on-field production this fall. But his off-the-field leadership and mentoring will be critical if the Sooners offense expects to be explosive through the air.
• Safety Quentin Hayes was also suspended on Wednesday. The sophomore had a solid spring and could end up being a noticeable loss if his suspension is lengthy. With the Sooners searching for depth in the secondary, Hayes had come on this spring and was in line to be able to help Mike Stoops secondary this fall before the suspension.