The Oklahoman

What drives Haselwood? Dad has the answer

- OU Insider Ryan Aber The Oklahoman USA TODAY NETWORK

LAWRENCE, Kan. — Jadon Haselwood made a habit of big games growing up in the Atlanta area.

So it was no surprise when his high school career ended in storybook fashion, with his 22-yard touchdown pass with four seconds left lifting Cedar Grove High to a dramatic 14-13 Class AAA title-game victory way back in December 2018.

Back then it seemed like a given that

there would plenty more big days for Haselwood, who was one of OU’s three five-star receiver signees in the 2019 class along with Trejan Bridges and Theo Wease.

But it wasn’t until last Saturday’s home win over TCU that Haselwood came up with another big day, recording six catches for 56 yards and three touchdowns to help the Sooners stay undefeated.

Haselwood hadn’t given up hope of having another big game, and after posting one, he’s pushing for more when OU continues its quest for yet another Big 12 title and a return to the College Football Playoff at Kansas on Saturday (11 a.m., ESPN).

“I mean, pretty much just try to build on it every week,” Haselwood said. “That’s the goal anyway, to get better every week. Just come out next week and work harder than I did last week and become a better player, a better target.”

Hearing Haselwood’s dad talk, it’s no surprise Haselwood is focusing forward, even after doubling his career touchdown total in his 20th collegiate game.

“We take everything one game at a time, you know,” Jeremy Haselwood said.

“I was extremely excited, as you can imagine, just to see him get his day, so to speak, but at the same time that’s just one game. We’ve got Kansas, we’ve got Iowa State, we’ve got Oklahoma State (coming up), so we can’t get so hung up on this.

“We celebrate the wins, and we celebrate the things that we do, right? But we can’t stay there. He’s got to keep focused on what’s next because the past is the past. And he’s still got to have his head in the game for the next games coming up.

“He very much understand­s that he’s not like, ‘Oh, I’ve had three touchdowns, I’m back. He’s been back. Just his role is different every week.”

Jadon Haselwood deflected praise for his performanc­e against TCU.

“I didn’t know I was going to have a game like I had Saturday,” he said. “I just executed my job and everybody else around me did as well, so it just looks like I did everything. But really, it’s just everybody doing their job and being in sync.”

It was against Kansas a year ago that Haselwood made his season debut after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament the spring before. That injury limited him to just four catches for 65 yards in three games.

“He loves to play,” Jeremy said. “So it was frustratin­g when you love a sport as much as he does and not to be able to play.

“It’s a battle physically, mentally. Most people wouldn’t really be up for it.”

Jadon Haselwood had a stop-and-start season last year, missing the first six games, then missing the Bedlam game the week after his season debut. He wasn’t with the team for the Cotton Bowl as he headed back to Georgia for personal reasons.

“He was ready but the doctors were like, ‘Whoa, we need to wait,’” Jeremy said. “It was kind of a tug-of-war.”

Jeremy was in the stands last Saturday night, wearing his crimson jersey with his son’s No. 11 on the back and going crazy with every Sooners touchdown — especially the ones his son scored. Though Jadon grew up in Georgia, he’d been a Sooners fan from the beginning.

Jeremy grew up in Oklahoma City, graduating from Putnam City North High School and attending OU for his first three years of college before moving to Atlanta to pursue a music career.

“I was Jamelle Holieway on the playground and Brian Bosworth on defense,” Jeremy said. “Keith Jackson, Patrick Collins, all those guys.”

Jeremy remained a Sooners fan after the move, taking his young son to OU watch parties in the area.

“He’d have his own jersey and for kickoffs, have his one in the air and be saying, ‘Oooooooooo­oU,’” Jeremy said. “He was about that life ever since he was a young man.”

But despite that past, Jadon committed to Georgia in March 2017, a few months after the Sooners offered.

After being committed to the Bulldogs for more than a year, he decommitte­d. A few months later, he committed to the Sooners.

Nearly three years later, Haselwood is rounding into a semblance of the player many expected when he arrived.

He leads the Sooners with 27 catches and his impact goes well beyond the catches, from his blocking ability to the impassione­d speech he gave to his teammates before last week’s win.

“It hasn’t been maybe the dream start that maybe he would’ve envisioned, but a lot of times it’s not and you just have to stay the course,” Sooners coach Lincoln Riley said. “Throughout all that you find a guy that’s unselfish and about the team and just wants to compete and play.”

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 ?? BRYAN TERRY/THE OKLAHOMAN ?? Oklahoma's Jadon Haselwood (11) celebrates over TCU's Keontae Jenkins (23) after a touchdown during the Sooners' 52-31 win in Norman last Saturday.
BRYAN TERRY/THE OKLAHOMAN Oklahoma's Jadon Haselwood (11) celebrates over TCU's Keontae Jenkins (23) after a touchdown during the Sooners' 52-31 win in Norman last Saturday.

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