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Oklahoma Spring Football Preview: Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

Jalen Saunders

There may not be two position groups for Oklahoma on more diametric ends of the certainty spectrum this spring than wide receiver and tight end.

Mystery men at tight end

The TE position seemed almost non-existent in 2012, and there won't be any new signees coming to the rescue. If you're looking for a silver lining, we'll get a chance to see what new tight ends coach Jay Boulware can do.

Brannon Green (6-2, 250, Sr.) ended up with 3 receptions for 45 yards and a TD for the season. Statistically, he was actually the best of the bunch.

However, so long as he's ready to roll following shoulder surgery, Taylor McNamara (6-5, 238, rFr.) has the most to gain this spring. McNamara got an early start against Florida A&M in 2012, but he ended up putting in for a medical redshirt and missed the second half of the season. Frankly, if OU's going to get anything of note out of the tight end position this fall, it will have to come from McNamara. He needs to catch some eyes during spring drills.

Receivers aplenty

For the second straight year, Oklahoma enters the spring needing to fill the shoes of its leading receiver. A year ago, the Sooners looked to Kenny Stills to be their main target in the passing game after Ryan Broyles graduated. With Stills opting to check out on his senior year and check into the NFL draft, it's time for a new go-to receiver to emerge.

In fact, OU may have already found that go-to guy in Jalen Saunders (5-9, 160, Sr.), who looks to be the bread and butter of this year’s offense. The slot receiver who transferred in from Fresno State didn't get his grant of eligibility from the NCAA until the week before the Texas game. He grabbed a couple passes for 54 yards in the rout over the Longhorns and went on to catch 60 more passes for 775 yards and 3 TDs in the next eight games.

Sterling Shepard (5-10, 188, Soph.) also developed into a reliable receiver last year. He finished with 45 receptions for 621 yards and 3 TDs. In the spring it will be interesting to see how receivers coach Jay Norvell utilizes both Shepard and Saunders together in personnel groupings, if at all, given their overlapping skill sets.

Trey Metoyer (6-1, 190, Soph.) was touted as the next big thing with impressive spring practices a year ago, but he fell short of expectations during the year. Norvell's other big challenge this spring will be developing Metoyer into a more consistent and polished threat as an outside receiver. With Stills and Justin Brown now gone, OU needs a reliable Metoyer to step in for them.

Of course, if Jaz Reynolds (6-2, 198, Sr.) can get back into good graces of the coaches, he could ease some of the pressure on Metoyer to produce on the outside. Reynolds has twice been suspended from the team—once in 2011 for a derogatory remark about a University of Texas shooting and again in 2012 for violating team rules. Yet, he has proved to be a major threat in the passing game when he did find his way on to the field – Reynolds started six games in 2011 and snared 41 passes for 715 yards and 5 TDs on the year. Bob Stoops generally plays it pretty coy with disciplinary matters, so we'll all have to read the smoke signals this spring to figure out if Reynolds will contribute in the fall.

Other names to listen for at receiver in the spring include Lacolton Bester (6-3, 205, Sr.) and Durron Neal (5-11, 201, Soph.). Both have been backups on the depth chart. Bester, a JUCO transfer from East Mississippi Community College a year ago, caught 3 passes for 29 yards in 2012. Neal, a four-star recruit from St. Louis in 2011, pulled in 5 passes for 75 yards.

Derrick Woods (6-1, 185-pound, rFr.), a four-star recruit from Inglewood, Calif., and early enrollee Dannon Cavil (6-5, 205, Fr.) out of San Antonio will also have a chance to make their way into the mix with a strong spring camp.