- Brandon Chatmon, ESPN Staff Writer
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During the summer months, ESPN.com will take a closer look at each scholarship player on Oklahoma’s roster in our Crimson Countdown series. Each day, we will analyze each player’s impact on the program since arriving on campus, his potential impact this fall, and his long-term projection. Starting with No. 1 Dominique Alexander, the series will follow the roster numerically through our final analysis of No. 98 Chuka Ndulue.
No. 5 Durron Neal, receiver, 5-foot-11, 200 pounds, junior
Impact thus far: Neal hasn’t put a major stamp on his OU career to this point. He started two of 13 games in 2013, finishing with 13 receptions and 176 yards as a sophomore. ... In 2012, he escaped a redshirt season but saw limited action with five receptions for 75 yards. ... He has not caught a touchdown in crimson and cream after stepping on campus as a U.S. Army All-American with plenty of hype.
Impact in 2014: It’s a huge season for Neal. He’s finally a veteran in a Sooners’ receiving corps, which is in dire need of playmakers. It’s time for him to step up or be passed on the depth chart by younger players. He should, at the very least, be a key contributor in the offense.
Long term upside: Neal has plenty of talent and has flashed playmaking ability during his first two seasons, but he needs to be consistent and take advantage of every opportunity he is given. If he becomes a consistent performer, he can be a critical piece in the offense.
Evaluation grade for Neal: C. Neal hasn’t made a major impact, but he isn’t a bust yet either. He has shown flashes that he can help the Sooners' offense but hasn't been able to force his way onto the field. This grade will go up or down after 2014 as Neal’s career path becomes more defined.
Development grade for Neal: D. A redshirt season probably would have been the best route for Neal, who wasn’t ready to make a major impact as a freshman. If he had spent a season learning behind Kenny Stills and Justin Brown in 2012, Neal could be poised to have three productive years as a Sooner instead of two.
Quotable: “Durron has really been patient, he really tries to do everything right. He’s getting his opportunity and that’s what spring football is all about. He loves Oklahoma; he’s a great program kid.” -- Receivers coach Jay Norvell.
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