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Thursday, November 30

OU's title hopes on line vs. K-State

When Oklahoma squares off against Kansas State on Saturday night at Arrowhead Stadium, you can rest assured that Sooners co-defensive coordinators Mike Stoops and Brent Venables will have the deep patrol ready to contain the Wildcats' physically gifted senior wide-out, Quincy Morgan.

Quincy Morgan
Kansas State wide receiver Quincy Morgan (5) takes a Jonathan Beasley pass to the end zone earlier this season against Ball State.

In fact, I view Morgan's performance as being the key to the game. When Morgan is delivering an "A" game, you won't find a more feared wide-out in college football. The 6-foot-1, 203 pounder has ideal size, is quick out of his cuts and can adjust easily to pull in the poorly thrown ball.

But there have also been times this season when the former Blinn Junior College product had some problems with consistency, dropping a few catchable balls that a player with his exceptional talent should haul in with relative ease.

On Saturday night against Oklahoma, coach Bill Snyder will be counting on Morgan to provide a performance similar to what he came through with against Nebraska just a few weeks ago. I was there in Manhattan when K-State fell behind early on a blocked punt for a touchdown, only to pull out a hard-fought 29-28 victory.

That night, Morgan dealt with the inclement weather conditions extremely well. Keep in mind, it was rainy, cold and windy early on, before the rain changed to snow in Manhattan. Through it all, Morgan was a major force, finishing the night with seven receptions for 199 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

We'll have to wait and see what the weather conditions are like Saturday night at Arrowhead, but one thing is for sure -- Morgan seems to be equipped to deal with any adverse weather conditions.

Bannister's stock surging at wide receiver
While Morgan has remained in my top 25 list of prospects throughout most of the season, another wide-out who is gaining ground in a hurry is Eastern Kentucky's Alex Bannister. I highlighted Bannister as one of my top "sleepers" earlier in the season.

Since then, his performance has remained at a high level. Bannister has enjoyed several eye-catching individual efforts, with noteworthy performances coming against Murray State (16 receptions, 224 yards, one TD), UT-Martin (nine receptions, 180 yards, three TDs) and Indiana State (seven receptions, 179 yards, three TDs).

Bannister finished the 2000 campaign with 71 catches for 1,122 yards and a school-record 12 TDs. That's an average of nearly 16 yards per reception. Remember, not only does Bannister have the necessary production, but he's also become a physically imposing performer as well.

Notre Dame's Joey Getherall also figures to get attention due to his skill as a punt returner.

Since last season, he's added roughly 10 pounds (and now checks in at 210 pounds) to his 6-5 frame, while increasing his 40-yard time to the point where he could now end up being the fastest wide receiver available in the draft.

In the spring, he clocked an amazing 4.22.

Since Bannister did his damage against Division I-AA competition, whether he surfaces as an early-round draft choice will depend on his performance in the postseason All-Star Games as well as the combine/individual workouts.

While Morgan and Bannister figure on Day One of the draft, an interesting later-round prospect who has been elevating his status throughout the season is Notre Dame's Joey Getherall. At just 5-foot-7 and 173 pounds, he's a possibility to contribute as a fourth or fifth option at wide receiver in certain situations.

But he figures to garner a great deal of positive commentary due to his skill level as a punt returner. Getherall has sure hands, reacts instinctively to any lanes that open and can really turn on the jets. He closed out the year with an average of 16.3 yards on 24 punt returns (including two TDs).

That whopping 16.3-yard average is the third-best for a single season in Notre Dame history.

Getherall also contributed as a receiving option with the Irish, totaling 17 catches for an impressive 19.0 yard average and four TDs. With his tremendous skill level as a punt returner, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see Getherall hear his name called in the fifth- to seventh-round range.

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