The Oklahoman

OU receivers hope to thrive as group

- OU Insider Justin Martinez The Oklahoman USA TODAY NETWORK

NORMAN – The bigger the name, the bigger the shadow it casts.

That certainly has been the case for Oklahoma's wide receiver corps. The Sooners have seen stars such as Marquise Brown and CeeDee Lamb go through Norman since the start of the Lincoln Riley Era in 2017, and that has set the bar pretty high for ensuing classes.

Perhaps too high.

OU's top receiver last season proved to be Marvin Mims, who recorded teamhighs of 610 receiving yards and nine touchdowns in 11 contests (55.5 ypg).

Mims put up those numbers as a true freshman, but it still marked the first

OU vs. Tulane

❚ KICKOFF: 11 a.m. Saturday at Gaylord Family — Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman (ABC) time since 2013 that OU didn't have a wide receiver who averaged at least 60 receiving yards per game.

And with a shadow comes some shade.

“Although we had some great moments, that was a position that we weren't real thrilled about the way we played last year,” Riley said during a media session in March. “(We) know that we can play better there.”

Riley isn't wrong about that last part.

OU returns several wide receivers who can put together a breakout campaign in 2021.

Mims is a candidate now that he has a year of experience under his belt, and redshirt sophomore Jadon Haselwood also has star potential. The former five-star recruit only appeared in three

games last season due to a lingering knee injury but is now fully healthy.

“I'm just really excited for the season because I feel like some people forgot,” Haselwood said. “So I've got to show them what I can still do, you know what I mean?”

Pro Football Focus named Mims and Haselwood as the fifth-best wide receiver duo in college football, but Theo Wease can't be forgotten either.

SI Sooners' Josh Callaway and John Hoover reported on Wednesday that the junior wide receiver sustained a lowerbody injury that'll sideline him for at least a few weeks, but he's capable of moving the chains when healthy. Wease finished second among the group in both receiving yards (530) and touchdowns (four) last season.

“Definitely, as a group, as a unit, we definitely wanna take strides,” Wease said.

“We say last year was a down year or whatever you wanna call it. We definitely expect to be better this year.”

Mike Woods also hopes to add to the cause.

The then-junior wide receiver hauled in career-highs of 619 yards and five touchdowns last season at Arkansas before entering the transfer portal in April. And while the expectatio­ns for OU's wide receivers are still as high as ever, it's that standard of excellence that drew Woods to Norman.

“You look at OU every year putting out these big numbers and every receiver wants to be in an offense like this,” Woods said. “So it was pretty easy when they reached out to me.”

There's no telling who will emerge as the top target for quarterbac­k Spencer Rattler this season, but that isn't the biggest concern.

Whether it's by the birth of a star or by a group effort, the Sooners' receiving corps is ready to emerge from the shadow.

“I feel like it's no ceiling,” Haselwood said. “Like the sky is really the limit. And I feel we're gonna do numbers this year. I'm really excited.”

 ?? BRYAN TERRY/THE OKLAHOMAN ?? OU's Marvin Mims (17) scores a touchdown in last season's win against Texas.
BRYAN TERRY/THE OKLAHOMAN OU's Marvin Mims (17) scores a touchdown in last season's win against Texas.
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