Two years ago, Owasso coach Bill Patterson expected sophomore Keon Hatcher to be big key to the Rams offense.
“We weren't very good offensively but we knew he was going to be a really good player,” Patterson said.
But Hatcher suffered a hip pointer that kept him out for most of the year.
Last year, Hatcher proved Patterson's confidence was well-founded, pulling in more than 1,000 yards receiving.
Hatcher's performance opened some eyes but a 4,9 40-time at a combine as a freshman kept some recruiters away.
Arkansas, though, saw potential in Hatcher and made him an offer. In August, he committed to the Razorbacks.
His performance this season pointed to Arkansas making the right move.
Hatcher caught 100 passes for 1,610 yards and 20 touchdowns.
The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder earned Oklahoman All-State honors for his performance.
“He's a physical beast after he catches the ball,” Patterson said. “He's the type of receiver that you could just basically throw it up and he's going to go get it.
“He's very competitive for the ball when it's in the air.”
Midwest City coach Steve Huff saw that up close in the second round of the playoffs when Hatcher pulled down an interception that set up a game-tying touchdown late in regulation to force overtime in a game Owasso eventually won.
“The one thing I noticed about him is he is very, very smooth,” Huff said. “He just kind of glides around out there.”
A round earlier, Norman coach Greg Nation had the chore of game-planning for Hatcher.
“The only other receiver that I can remember coaching against that was as good as him was Robert Meachem,” Nation said. “Hatcher reminded me so much of Meachem.”
Meachem, a former Tulsa Washington standout, is in his fifth NFL season after a standout career at Tennessee.
Hatcher credits his development this season to his work ethic.
“Just going to the field, running routes and lifting weights,” Hatcher said. “I'd be at the field during snowstorms, just running and getting faster.”
Having just turned 17 in September, Patterson said there's still plenty of room for improvement with Hatcher.
“Especially with his speed,” Patterson said. “He's going to work hard and keep getting better.”
Patterson says Hatcher is among the best players he's coached during his career, putting the receiver in the league of another former SEC standout: former Arkansas quarterback Quinn Grovey, who came out of Duncan.