Last summer at this time, the Oklahoma Sooners wide receivers were about as questionable as Karl Welzein's judgment after an evening drinking orange soda and Hennessy.
Now? Well, they're still waiting to find out about the academic status of Trey Metoyer, probably the best high school receiver in the country last year. But even without the diaper dandy, this is the top group of pass catchers in the nation.
Obviously, Ryan Broyles leads the unit and is OU's clear go-to guy. Poised to become the Crimson and Cream's all-time leader in just about every receiving category imaginable, No. 85 excels in OU's spread attack. His uncanny knack for finding soft spots in the defensive coverage means he's going to be open more often than not. He also has the shakes and burst to be a threat in space on bubble screens and quick hitters.
Broyles alone can cause all kinds of headaches for opponents, but good luck trying to double him or roll coverage his way. OU's second option would be the first at, conservatively, 90 percent of the other schools in the country. Kenny Stills caught 61 balls for nearly 800 yards and 4 touchdowns on the year, which is a feat when you take into account the 200 receptions combined between Broyles and departed running back DeMarco Murray. The sophomore Californian gives OU its best deep threat and is equally adept on the short- to mid-range routes.
Who's the third option? Take your pick from:
- sophomore speedster Trey Franks, who had 30 catches a year ago;
- beastly senior Dejuan Miller, a serious breakout candidate in 2010 whose season was cut short by a knee injury; and
- redshirt freshman Justin McCay, one of the top freshman receivers nationally in the 2010 recruiting class.
That's to say nothing of guys drawing rave reviews from the coaching staff this off-season, such as Jaz Reynolds and Kameel Jackson. Oh, and if that's not enough, it sounds like offensive coordinator Josh Heupel is experimenting with dynamic all-purpose back Roy Finch as a slot receiver.
As for the tight ends, after a slow start to his career, James Hanna turned into a reliable red zone option last season, catching 7 TDs. Plus, former walk-on Trent Ratterree has come up clutch for some big situations in the past for the Sooners, providing some stability at the tight end position.
You don't often find position groups this strong in college football. Dare I say it: This might be the best unit, regardless of position, in the entire country. With Landry Jones slinging the ball behind a veteran offensive line, OU's passing game looks like the most potent force in the game this year.