Big 12: Jameel Owens

If you're one of our most faithful readers, you'll remember we took a look at the ESPNU 150 recruits from the past five years before Signing Day 2011.

You can take a look at those here:
That was before the 2011 season. Now, our recruitniks have taken it upon themselves to provide a new update for the 2008 class.

You'll need ESPN Insider to see the full updates for each player group, but here's how the Big 12 players have done:

Prospects ranked from 1-25 Insider

No. 6 Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State (via Miami): Brown committed to Miami (Fla.), where he struggled to see the field in 2008 and 2009. He transferred to Kansas State and was named Big 12 newcomer of the year in 2011 after recording 95 tackles, two sacks and an interception (of Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III).

No. 7: Jermie Calhoun, RB, Oklahoma: Calhoun's career never got off the ground at Oklahoma after he redshirted as a true freshman. He appeared in 16 games and rushed for 242 yards on 56 carries. He tore his ACL early in his sophomore season (2010) and decided to transfer to Football Championship Subdivision program Angelo State University.

No. 11: R.J. Washington, DE, Oklahoma: Washington has appeared in 25 games (no starts) for the Sooners, and has 20 tackles and 3.5 sacks. His 13 tackles, three sacks and five pass breakups in 2011 are all career highs.

No. 13: Josh Jarboe, WR, Oklahoma: Jarboe was arrested for bringing a weapon onto his high school campus before enrolling at Oklahoma. His career with the Sooners didn't last long, as he was kicked off the team after a YouTube video emerged with him rapping about guns and violence. Jarboe resurfaced at Troy but couldn't escape the negative headlines and was dismissed in 2009. After a year at Northeast Mississippi junior college, Jarboe returned to the Football Bowl Subdivision ranks at Arkansas State, and had 54 receptions for 730 yards and two touchdowns this season

No. 16: D.J. Grant, WR, Texas: After redshirting in 2008, Grant suffered season-ending knee injuries in 2009 and 2010. He finally got on the field in 2011 and started six games, finishing the season with 16 receptions for 180 yards and three touchdowns.

No. 17: Dan Buckner, WR, Texas: Buckner had 50 receptions for 526 yards and six touchdowns in two seasons with Texas. He was arrested on charges of criminal trespassing and resisting arrest in January 2010 and decided to transfer to Arizona. Buckner had 42 catches for 606 yards and two touchdowns this season for the Wildcats.

Prospects ranked 26-50 Insider

No. 38: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri: It was once thought that Gabbert would be redshirted as a freshman in 2008. Instead, he was the third-string quarterback for the Tigers. He is now a starting NFL quarterback, playing for the Jacksonville Jaguars. During his career at Missouri, Gabbert threw for more than 6,800 yards and 40 touchdowns. He left for the NFL after his junior season.

Prospects ranked 51-75 Insider

57. Cyrus Gray, RB, Texas A&M: Gray closed out his junior season with seven consecutive 100-yard rushing performances, and he added two more to that streak to open his senior campaign. He missed the final two games of the Aggies' season, but he closed out his career with 312 yards and five scores in his final two games. He was named to the 2011 All-Big 12 second team, and ran for nearly 3,300 yards and 30 touchdowns in his career.

No. 72: Jameel Owens, WR, Oklahoma: In two years with the Sooners, Owens caught four passes for 44 yards. He then transferred to Tulsa before the 2010 season, receiving a transfer waiver so he did not have to sit out a season. But he lasted only one season for the Hurricanes, as he was granted a leave of absence during spring drills in 2011 and never returned to the team.

Prospects ranked 76-100 Insider

No. 79: David Snow, OL, Texas: Snow came right in and played as a true freshman. When it was all said and done, he appeared in 51 games, starting 31 at center and both guard positions. He received a Big 12 honorable mention this past season.

No. 84: Stephen Good, OL, Oklahoma: Good has been an active member of the Sooners' offensive line since he arrived in 2008. He was in the two-deep since day one, playing both guard positions.

No. 91: Derrick Hall, ATH, Texas A&M: Hall never made it to College Station because he failed to qualify academically. He went on to Navarro Junior College, where he rushed for more than 2,200 yards and 29 touchdowns in two seasons. Hall then signed with Tulsa, but the NCAA ruled him ineligible.

No. 92: Daniel Franklin, ILB, Oklahoma: Franklin redshirted his freshman season, and has since been a career backup and special-teams player in Norman.

No. 95: DeSean Hales, WR, Texas: Hales redshirted his freshman season in Austin. Through the next three years, he played in 31 games, catching 13 passes for 87 yards. He has one more season of eligibility.

No. 100: Emmanuel Acho, LB, Texas: Acho started every game this past season for the Longhorns, leading the team in tackles with 131. He also recorded 19 tackles for loss and three sacks. Acho was named first-team All-Big 12 in 2011, and finished his career with 269 tackles, 40 tackles for loss and eight sacks.

Prospects ranked 101-125 Insider

No. 106: Jordan Fields, CB, Texas A&M: Fields committed to Texas A&M but never signed with the Aggies. He enrolled at Blinn JC (Texas) following high school and has yet to sign with an FBS school.

No. 114: Nolan Brewster, OLB, Texas: Brewster played in all 13 games as a true freshman, mainly on special teams, and had eight tackles. He had 24 tackles and an interception as a backup safety as a sophomore and then redshirted his junior year after undergoing shoulder surgery. As a senior, Brewster played in Texas' first four games but had to retire from football due to multiple concussions and post-traumatic migraine headaches.

No. 117: Kye Staley, RB, Oklahoma State: Staley redshirted and then suffered a knee injury that wiped out his 2009 season. He quit the football team and didn't play in 2010 but rejoined the team the following year. He played in 13 games this past season, catching 10 passes for 81 yards and a touchdown.

No. 118: Kendall Wright, ATH, Baylor: He made an immediate impact as a true freshman, leading the team in catches, yards and touchdowns. He earned second-team All-Big 12 honors his sophomore year, catching 66 balls for 740 yards and four touchdowns. Wright broke school records his junior season, catching 78 passes for 952 yards and seven touchdowns to again earn second team All-Big 12. As a senior, Wright earned several All-American honors after catching 108 passes for 1,663 yards and 14 touchdowns, all school records. He's rated as a potential first-round draft pick in April's NFL draft.

No. 122: Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma: Jones will likely shatter every Sooners passing mark after surprisingly deciding to come back for his senior year. He started 10 games his redshirt freshman season after starter Sam Bradford (St. Louis Rams) suffered a season-ending shoulder injury. He set a school freshman record, throwing for 3,198 yards and 26 touchdowns, including a school-record six in one game. He earned All-American honors as a sophomore after throwing for 4,718 yards and 38 touchdowns and led the Big 12 in total offense. Jones' numbers were down a bit his junior season, but he still threw for 4,463 yards and 29 touchdowns.

No. 125: Justin Johnson, RB, Oklahoma: Johnson's Sooners career was short-lived as he transferred to Abilene Christian following his freshman year. He rushed for 103 yards and had a 100-yard kickoff return for a score as a sophomore but transferred following that season to McMurry, a Division III school. Johnson rushed for 771 yards and eight touchdowns to go with 40 catches for 352 yards and four more scores for the War Hawks as a junior last year.

Prospects ranked 126-150 Insider

No. 138: Dravannti Johnson, LB, Texas: Johnson decided to transfer from Texas last month, having already graduated. The junior defensive end saw limited action, playing in only seven games and registering just four tackles, one for a loss. Johnson's most productive season came in 2010, when he started five games and recorded 23 tackles, two tackles for a loss, one sack and six quarterback pressures. He is expected to transfer to a smaller school for more playing time.

No. 143: Rodrick Davis, DT, Texas A&M: After two uneventful seasons at Texas A&M, Davis transferred to Fort Scott (Kansas) Community College before transferring again to New Mexico following the 2011 season. Davis played in eight games last season for Fort Scott and recorded 28 tackles. He redshirted in 2008 so he has one year of eligibility remaining and can play this season.

Thoughts on a history of top-flight recruits

February, 4, 2011
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On Wednesday, we wrapped up our look back at the last five years of ESPNU 150 recruits that signed with Big 12 teams.

Here's a quick refresher course on every Big 12 ESPNU 150 signee:
I learned a lot in looking back on these classes, and the spectrum of results was fascinating. Here are a few thoughts:
  • There wasn't a Heisman Trophy winner among the bunch -- Oklahoma's Sam Bradford was a three-star recruit -- but there were plenty of All-Americans and All-Big 12 talents, as well as a few draft picks. It's interesting to note that the 2010 class was the only one in which more than one Big 12 Freshman of the Year came to campus as an elite recruit. Oklahoma State linebacker Shaun Lewis and Oklahoma safety Tony Jefferson shared the defensive honors last season.
  • I'll count probable draft picks, but here's how many NFL draft picks emerged from each class. Obviously, the most recent classes won't be included, and it tapers off quite a bit as you reach the '08 class, which will have a few more drafted eventually. Any players after the 2008 class are ineligible for the draft.
  • 2006: 8
  • 2007: 3 (Dez Bryant, Sam Acho, Curtis Brown)
  • 2008: 1 (Blaine Gabbert)
  • Additionally, I don't have a ton to say about the 09-11 classes because, well, at this point, you can't have much to say. Oklahoma or Texas don't have too many four-year, or even three-year starters at too many positions. It's still very, very early to pass judgment on those guys.
  • Obviously there's still time, but the 2008 class looking back was pretty weak in comparison to those around it. It's easily the worst of the four classes, not including 2011. Two of the top five recruits have transferred. The other three in that group have yet to make significant contributions. Players like Jon Major, Cyrus Gray, Emmanuel Acho, Kendall Wright and Landry Jones join Gabbert as some of the best in the class, but guys like Jameel Owens, Kye Staley, Lynn Katoa and Justin Johnson aren't even with the teams they've signed anymore. Plenty of others haven't come close to the projected impact others would hope.
  • Compare that to the accomplished 2006 class, which was loaded at the top of the board. DeMarco Murray, Sergio Kindle, Jevan Snead, Gerald McCoy and Eddie Jones won't make anybody say, "Who?" That's a strong top 5. Mike Goodson, Jeremy Beal, Josh Freeman, and Jermaine Gresham could all have solid NFL careers, too. In my book, this is the class others will have to live up to.
  • One quick thought: Are Jevan Snead and Josh Freeman's careers the inverses of each other?
  • I'll give a full breakdown of the team totals later on next week, but I was shocked at how few Nebraska reeled in. From 2006-10, they had just three. S Rickey Thenarse signed in '06, OT Baker Steinkuhler signed in '08 and OG Andrew Rodriguez signed in '10. Steinkuhler, of course, has moved to defensive tackle since. For a team that's won the North the past two seasons and at times looked like a national title contender in 2010, that's a pretty solid endorsement of Bo Pelini's coaching. He's won 29 games in his first three seasons, and his nationally-ranked class in 2011 signed four ESPNU 150 recruits alone. For all you non-mathematicians out there, that's more than 06-10 combined. That has to give Nebraska fans a whole lot of confidence about the program moving forward, even if three of those four signees are from Texas, where Nebraska may struggle to recruit after its move to the Big Ten. That, however, is a whole different post and discussion.
  • As an overview of all this, I can't stand it when people decry the recruiting rankings system all together, declaring it worthless. It's not. I also can't stand it when others contend the rankings mean everything. They don't. The truth is right where it usually is: somewhere in the middle. Cite all the two-star recruits you want. I can come back with 10 more that showed in their college careers why they were two-star recruits. You can build a successful program on three and four-star signees, but the facts are this: if you keep reeling in top-level recruits, you've got a much, much greater chance of having big success. Bottom line, that's the truth. You'll encounter some busts among the five-stars. You'll encounter some gems in the two-stars. But recruiting rankings mean something, just not as much or as little as people like to think sometimes.

Tracking Big 12 ESPNU 150 signees: 2008

January, 31, 2011
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ESPN the Magazine had a fascinating feature looking back at the past 25 No. 1 high school recruits Insider, where they are now and what the ranking meant to them. With apologies to Vince Young, there aren't a ton of Big 12 talents on the list, but there have been plenty of great recruits to come through the Big 12. We took a look on Thursday at how the All-Big 12 team stacked up as recruits, and you saw quite a mixed bag.

Well, it's the same for the recruits who came to campus with high rankings and high profiles. Going back to 2006, here's how every Big 12 commit from the ESPNU 150 turned out. We'll eventually get to 2010 and the current class, 2011, around signing day, but here's how the 2008 class breaks down. No. 7: Jermie Calhoun, RB, Oklahoma. Has 242 yards and a touchdown on 56 carries. Missed final two months of sophomore season in 2010 after tearing ACL against Colorado on Oct. 30.

No. 9: Darrell Scott, RB, Colorado. Transferred to South Florida after 2009 season because of lack of playing time. Ran for just 95 yards on 23 carries as a sophomore after running for 343 yards and a touchdown on 87 carries as a freshman in 2008.

No. 11: R.J. Washington, DE, Oklahoma. Has seven tackles and half a tackle for loss in two seasons after redshirting his first year on campus.

No. 16: D.J. Grant, WR, Texas. Redshirted in 2008, missed all of 2009 season with knee injury. Still trying to fully recover from injury, per former offensive coordinator Greg Davis at a November news conference.

No. 17: Dan Buckner, WR, Texas. Caught 50 passes for 526 yards in two seasons, including 45 for 442 as a sophomore in 2009. Transferred to Arizona after the season, less than 24 hours after an arrest in College Station, Texas.

No. 38: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri. Two-year starter who threw for 6,822 yards and 40 touchdowns in his three-year career, which featured two All-Big 12 seasons. Projects as early first-round pick in 2011 draft.

No. 57: Cyrus Gray, RB, Texas A&M. Earned All-Big 12 honors in 2010 with seven consecutive 100-yard games to close the season. Has 2,253 yards and 18 touchdowns for his career. Also caught 72 passes for three touchdowns and more than 500 yards.

No. 66: Jarvis Humphrey, DT, Texas. Forced to withdraw from the University of Texas because of a kidney condition.

No. 72: Jameel Owens, WR, Oklahoma. Caught four passes for 44 yards in 2008 before transferring to Tulsa after the season.

No. 79: David Snow, OG, Texas. Appeared in all 38 career games, including 13 starts at center (11 in 2010) and five at right guard.

No. 84: Stephen Good, OT, Oklahoma. Became a starter in 2009 and was second on the team in knockdowns that season. Part of the Sooners' rotation at guard in 2010.

No. 91: Derrick Hall, ATH, Texas A&M. Did not qualify academically. Enrolled at Navarro College before signing with Tulsa out of junior college.

No. 92: Daniel Franklin, ILB, Oklahoma. Reserve linebacker has seen playing time on special teams.

No. 95: DeSean Hales, WR, Texas. Has 11 career receptions for 77 yards. Appeared in 20 games over three seasons.

No. 98: Jon Major, LB, Colorado. Missed entire freshman season with torn ACL in fall camp. Became a starter in 2010. Has 54 career tackles with three pass break-ups and two tackles for loss.

No. 100: Emmanuel Acho, OLB, Texas. Has 11 career starts and was an All-Big 12 performer in 2009 as a sophomore. Has 135 career tackles, 21 tackles for loss, four sacks, six forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.

No. 114: Nolan Brewster, OLB, Texas. Reserve safety has appeared in 27 games, including special teams, over career. Has 32 tackles, one interception and two tackles for loss.

No. 117: Kye Staley, RB, Oklahoma State. Missed all of 2009 with knee injury and left the team before the 2010 season.

No. 118: Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor. Two-time All-Big 12 performer has 194 career catches for 2,341 yards and 16 touchdowns.

No. 122: Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma. Became starter as redshirt freshman in 2009 after Sam Bradford injured a shoulder in the season opener. Earned All-Big 12 honors in 2010. Has 7,916 career yards with 64 touchdowns and 26 interceptions.

No. 125: Justin Johnson, RB, Oklahoma. Transferred in June 2009 to Abilene Christian after playing sparingly as a freshman in 2008.

No. 138: Dravannti Johnson, LB, Texas. Made 21 tackles in 2010 after redshirting in 2008 and not playing in 2009.

No. 143: Rodrick Davis, DT, Texas A&M. Reserve lineman redshirted in 2008, accumulated no stats in 2010.

No. 150: Lynn Katoa, OLB, Colorado. Transferred in May 2009 after academic issues. Was ineligible for 2008 season.

Oklahoma's Miller can beat defenses with size, speed

November, 4, 2009
11/04/09
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Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

There’s a natural tendency to overlook Dejuan Miller when considering Oklahoma’s speediest wide receivers.

 
 Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images
 Oklahoma receiver Dejuan Miller scored his first touchdown against Kansas State.
After all, a 6-foot-4, 224-pound pass-catcher typically would be noticed for his size rather than his quickness.

That is, until Miller lines up and actually runs a few routes.

“When people look at me, they automatically think I’m some kind of possession receiver,” Miller said. “But I ran track in high school. I can get out and run when I have to.”

That speed might be a stunner to some defenders. But it’s a natural advantage that Miller likes to spring on unsuspecting opponents.

“It’s fun and I love it,” Miller said. “When they see somebody 6-4 and 224 pounds they think I can just catch the ball. But it’s nice to surprise and shock them sometimes when I run.”

Earlier this season, teammates were mesmerized by his combination of size and speed. Several Oklahoma defensive backs compared him to NFL superstar Larry Fitzgerald because of his bountiful natural gifts.

But despite those tools and a strong effort in fall camp, Miller has had to wait his turn to work his way into Oklahoma’s receiving rotation.

“There was a frustrating point,” Miller said. “It was kind of like climbing a mountain and trying to stay positive every day and have positive outlook. I knew things would fall into place. I just needed my chance to shine and get a chance to play.”

That opportunity finally arrived last week when he produced a career-best nine receptions for 93 yards to help spark the Sooners’ victory over Kansas State.

His first catch was a 23-yard touchdown grab in which he broke several tackles. It was the first touchdown of his career.

Miller also produced three key third-down receptions on drives that led to Oklahoma touchdowns against the Wildcats.

“I feel like this was kind of my coming-out party, a chance to show what I could do,” Miller said. "It was huge because I’ve been waiting for a breakout game like that. I just wanted to showcase what I could do and be a playmaker for us.”

That development provides a capable No. 2 threat behind the speedy Ryan Broyles, who leads the nation with 10 touchdown receptions. The sophomore duo has Oklahoma fans excited about the future.

“Me and Ryan bring something different to the table,” Miller said. “He’s a natural playmaker and I think I bring more of a physical standpoint. I bring the physical and he brings flair and finesse. We kind of feed off each other.”

Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones' connection with Miller in Oklahoma’s offense also appears to have grown in the last several weeks. Miller is listed as a first-string receiver on the Sooners' depth chart heading into Saturday's game at Nebraska.

"I always had confidence in him," Jones told the Tulsa World. "I've seen what he does in practice and what he's done since spring. He's a hard-working kid. He's going to make every play for you."

Miller was one of the three top wide receivers who chose the Sooners in the 2008 recruiting class along with Josh Jarboe and Jameel Owens. But Jarboe was dismissed from the Oklahoma squad two days before practice began last season when an expletive-laced rap video he had crafted ended up on the Internet.

And neither Miller nor Owens got much playing time last season as the Sooners preferred to use senior receivers like Manny Johnson, Juaquin Iglesias and Quentin Chaney.

“I was in kind of a rough situation last year because there were a lot of older guys in front of me,” Miller said. “I had to wait on my turn and be patient. I learned patience is a virtue.”

Family members in the Oklahoma City area were the major reason why Miller chose to leave his hometown of Metuchen, N.J., for the Oklahoma program. Among the other schools he considered included Penn State, Florida, Michigan, Boston College and Cincinnati.

But after the first big game of his career, Miller is happy he chose to come to Oklahoma -- even if he had to wait for his chance to play.

"I knew things eventually would get better,” Miller said. “It might be a rocky road, but I wanted to stick with it. I always had a good attitude because I knew it was just a matter of time before my chance would come along.”

Injuries have smothered OU's BCS title-game hopes

October, 5, 2009
10/05/09
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Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin


It was a time of unbridled happiness and joy for Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops -- a moment he described as the “best recruiting day” he could have ever imagined earlier this year.

 
  AP Photo/Jeff Roberson
  Oklahoma's Bob Stoops is going to have to coach through injuries if he’s going to save the Sooners' season.
The return of standout players like quarterback Sam Bradford, tight end Jermaine Gresham, tackle Trent Williams and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy for another college season was hailed as one of the top moments of Stoops’ coaching career. Those four key players would serve as the cornerstones of the Sooners’ charge to another Big 12 title and perhaps provide a chance at that elusive BCS title that has been the program’s albatross in recent years.

But as injuries have wracked the Oklahoma program, that group of standout players that Stoops expected to have at his disposal have never all been available at the same time. Gresham suffered a season-ending knee injury before the season started and Bradford sprained a shoulder joint in the first game. It’s been a cruel reminder for Stoops on how football fortunes can change quickly.

And it got worse this past weekend in the Sooners’ 21-20 loss to Miami. Top playmaking receiver Ryan Broyles, the nation’s leader in touchdown receptions, went out with a fractured shoulder that could keep him sidelined until early November. His departure robs the 2-2 Sooners of their top deep threat and one of their few receivers who can stretch the field vertically.

That departure was evident on Oklahoma’s final drive against Miami. With no real deep threats to test a Miami defense that was missing a couple of key players in the secondary, the Sooners weren’t nearly as potent. On a pivotal drive late in the fourth quarter where the Sooners could have reclaimed the lead, offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson went conservative. Oklahoma ran on six straight plays before throwing a safe swing pass to DeMarco Murray for no yards on third down.

The Sooners then settled for a field goal and then never got the ball back as the Hurricanes closed out the one-point victory against a tiring Oklahoma defense.

It was a far cry from the Sooners’ offensive juggernaut of 2008. That group rolled up 60 or more points during a five-game stretch late last season to boost Oklahoma to an unprecedented third-straight Big 12 title.

It’s expected that Bradford will return to the lineup sooner than later -- perhaps even this week against Baylor. But the symptoms that have befallen the Sooners in the Miami game won’t be magically removed as the reigning Heisman Trophy winner returns.

The young offensive line has been a disappointment in pass protection and susceptibility to penalties. Those mistakes have kept the Sooners struggling in troublesome down-and-distance situations in their losses to BYU and Miami.

The loss of Broyles underscores the Sooners lack of depth at wide receiver. Top recruits Dejuan Miller and Jameel Owens haven’t fulfilled their promise. Adron “Pooh” Tennell has been a bust with three catches this season. Cameron Kenney produced six receptions against Miami, but now will be relied on as the Sooners’ primary offensive receiving threat. And tight end has all but disappeared out of Wilson’s offensive arsenal after Gresham’s injury.

The problems at wide receiver could be traced to last season, when highly-regarded recruit Josh Jarboe never joined the team after his scholarship was rescinded when he made a controversial rap video. His talent would fit this receiving corps nicely, even as channeling his behavior would have been challenging for Stoops and his staff.

Even with all of these problems building on top of another, the Sooners’ real season starts in Saturday's conference opener.

The Sooners won’t be playing for the BCS championship, but they can still make it to a BCS bowl game with a strong rebound. Their huge game against Texas approaches next week. They will be a heavy underdog in that game, but weird upsets always have a way of happening in the history of that bitter rivalry.

Stoops has always been his most effective over the years when he’s had to coach with a shortened roster. Remember his 2006 team claimed the Big 12 title after Rhett Bomar was kicked off the team before fall practice started and Adrian Peterson was hurt for most of the second half of the season?

That team overcame all of those problems and even a loss to Texas and still rebounded to win the fourth of Stoops’ Big 12 titles. He’s never said so, but I’ve always thought that had to be the most satisfying of his titles that he’s won considering all of the obstacles en route to the championship.

He’ll have another chance this season to duplicate that success with a similarly depleted roster. And if Bradford returns healthy, Stoops will have one big advantage that he’s lacked before.

Stoops says Bradford is playing better than before

August, 14, 2009
8/14/09
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Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

NORMAN, Okla. -- Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops thinks that Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford has come back noticeably improved for his junior season.

Bradford broke Oklahoma single-season records with 50 touchdown passes and 4,720 passing yards last season, but he appears to have more confidence and a better deep arm after the first week of Oklahoma's practices.

 
  AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki
  Sam Bradford has added 10 pounds on his frame since last season.

"He's strong, he's quicker and the ball comes out that much faster," Stoops said. "With another year of experience out on the field, he'll think much quicker, too."

Bradford appears noticeably bigger after adding 10 pounds of muscle since the end of last year.

"Sam is getting better each and every day," senior wide receiver Adron Tennell said. "Throwing the ball, rolling out of the pocket, he's done it all. You can tell he's better than before."

Stoops said there's little separation between his backups who are playing behind Bradford at quarterback.

Redshirt freshman Landry Jones was presumed to have the edge, but redshirt freshman Ben Sherrard, junior John Nimmo and freshman Drew Allen all are in the mix for playing time.

"Those guys are still splitting their reps," Stoops said. "We keep snapping the ball and giving them experience. They are working well together and doing a nice job."

  • Sophomore defensive back Jamell Fleming has been hobbled by a back injury and sophomore defensive back Desmond Jackson "has an issue with academic misconduct" that he's working through, Stoops said.
  • Oklahoma's special teams have looked strong in recent practices. Kicker Jimmy Stevens showed improved range at Thursday's open practice with field goals of 50 and 53 yards.

Stevens' length is a big development for the Sooners. His longest kick last season was 42 yards and he shanked five extra points.

Stoops playfully chided about 300 fans who attended the Sooners' open workout Thursday night that they weren't cheering loud enough for Stevens' big kicks.

"They only cheer when there's an offensive play," Stoops said. "When the defense intercepts the ball they are quiet over there or when the kicker gets a nice 53-yard field goal."

  • One of the early revelations of fall practice has been wide receiver/punter Cameron Kenney, a transfer from Garden City Community College.

Kenney has jumped into the mix at wide receiver and also is challenging for the punting position against Tress Way. It's a weird combination of a speedy wide receiver who also is a strong punter.

"He's pretty good," Stoops said. "He's shows a lot of signs (as a receiver), but he needs to be more consistent, but he's doing a lot of good things.

"He's punted well, too. It's very rare because you don't see a lot of wide receivers who can punt the ball 40 yards like he can."

Oklahoma receivers coach Jay Norvell said that Kenney reminds him of former Oklahoma wide receiver Juaquin Iglesias because of his combination of size and strength.

"It's because of his quickness, his way of getting in and out of plays and the fact he's very strong to the ball," Norvell said. "Cameron can also run well after the catch. He's a hard worker and the guys who work the hardest get better faster."

  • Despite the loss of key playmakers like Iglesias, Manny Johnson and Quentin Chaney from last season, Norvell thinks his current group has the chance to be better than last year's productive group.

The emergence of Kenney, Tennell, Ryan Broyles, Jameel Owens, Brandon Caleb, Dejuan Miller and Mossis Madu has provided the Sooners with a deep cast of productive receivers.

"I think we're more athletic and explosive than we were last year," Norvell said. "Whether that will correlate into productiveness, I'm not sure. But we have athletes and in that respect we probably have more deep threats than we did last year."

OU receivers anxious to disprove doubters

March, 12, 2009
3/12/09
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Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

NORMAN, Okla. -- Considering all of the key receivers that left Oklahoma's team after last season, it's understandable why some aren't sold on the Sooners' returning talent at the position.

Leading returning receiver Ryan Broyles doesn't mind that at all. In fact, Broyles actually likes that many are considering his receiving corps as one of the Sooners' biggest positional question marks.

 
  Stephen Brashear/Icon SMI
  Ryan Broyles will be one of quarterback Sam Bradford's go-to guys in 2009.

"We've all been doubted around here before," Broyles said. "We just want to rise to the occasion and show what we can do when we get the chance."

The Sooners must replace playmakers Manuel Johnson, Juaquin Iglesias and Quentin Chaney from last season. That trio combined to produce 145 receptions, 2,368 yards and 21 touchdowns to spark an explosive passing game that catapulted Sam Bradford to the Heisman Trophy.

Their departure is expected to hamstring the Sooners' vertical passing game in Bradford's third season as a starter. But it's also bolstered the confidence of several players who are figuring that it's now their time to shine.

No player has been more vociferous this spring as 6-foot-4 senior wide receiver Adron Tennell, a senior who is poised to emerge as one of the Sooners' likely deep threats.

"I feel like I'm back in high school. I'm unstoppable and nobody can touch me," said Tennell, who has produced only 16 catches in the first three seasons at Oklahoma after struggling with a knee injury and talented teammates in front of him.

Tennell, known as "Pooh" by his relatives since childhood, arrived at Oklahoma as the most-heralded receiving recruit in recent history. One scouting service had him ranked as the third-highest recruit in the 2006 recruiting class, behind only Florida's Percy Harvin and USC's Vidal Hazelton.

But Tennell's development was stunted after he injured his knee on special teams late in his sophomore season against Texas Tech. The injury caused him to miss all of winter conditioning and spring practice before last season.

As the other players developed, Tennell's playing time diminished. He produced only nine catches for 68 yards last season.

"Being behind all of those guys who were here before me, I was hoping I'd get to play," Tennell said. "But when I didn't, I got anxious about having to sit and watch. Now, I'm trying to shine when I get my chance."

(Read full post)

Stoops makes tough call on Jarboe

August, 1, 2008
8/01/08
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Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops was facing a difficult decision when he considered what to do with freshman receiver Josh Jarboe only two days before fall practice starts.

Jarboe was already on thin ice with Stoops after being arrested last March, only a month after accepting Oklahoma's scholarship offer. He was arrested on felony charges after carrying a gun to his school in Decatur, Ga.

After being charged with weapons possession, Stoops gave him a second chance after Jarboe's plea bargain. And then, before fall training camp starts, a video of Jarboe rapping about shooting people and carrying guns surfaced on YouTube.

With the Sooners already under the NCAA microscope, Stoops knew he had little leeway. And he also knew his decision -- made after talking with Jarboe earlier in the day -- would be easier to deal with immediately than if he waited until after training camp started.

So, today, Jarboe was kicked off the team

The dismissal could hurt Oklahoma a little this year as the Sooners already were looking for a replacement for Malcolm Kelly, their prototypical tall big-play receiver who left a year early for the NFL. Receivers like Manny Johnson and Juaquin Iglesias are back for this season. Jarboe would have been an ideal replacement for Kelly and likely would have been good enough to crack the rotation and become a contributor as the season continued.

Jarboe's departure will place some emphasis on the quick development this season of freshmen like DeJuan Miller and Jameel Owens. Those players will be the future for the Sooners' receiving corps and it would behoove Stoops to get them in the rotation sooner than later.

And it could really hurt the Sooners next season, when Iglesias and Johnson both will be gone. Returning non-senior wide receivers accounted for only five receptions for Oklahoma last season.

With Stoops' decision made before the season starts, it means that Jarboe would have immediately eligibility if he chooses to go to another program. It will be interesting to see where he surfaces.

Because another coach is going to be willing to give a player with his talents another chance. Trust me.

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