NORMAN — By the end of last season, Cameron Kenney lost his swagger, lost his confidence and ultimately lost his spot in the Oklahoma wide receiver rotation.
Less than a year later, he has regained all three. And, has answered the Sooners' call for a No. 2 wideout to take the heat off Ryan Broyles.
During OU's 47-17 demolition of Florida State last Saturday, Kenney was tremendous, catching four passes for 73 yards and a highlight reel touchdown. On that play, Kenney went up over cornerback Greg Reid along the sidelines to bring down the 36-yard score, which put the Sooners in command of the game for good.
"I'm very pleased with Cameron," coach Bob Stoops said Monday. "I noticed even a couple of weeks before the season he was more consistent in practice, stepping up, making more plays. And he's done so our first two games. It's good to see that. He needs to do that. He's capable of it. I'm hopeful it will even pick up more because he has really good ability to be a guy you can really count on."
Kenney's turnaround has been remarkable, considering where he ended up last season.
Kenney came to Norman via Garden City Community College, where he emerged as one of the top junior-college wideouts in the country. A native of the Atlanta area, Kenney signed with OU over Georgia and arrived with high expectations.
But after dropping three passes and committing a false start against Baylor in the Big 12 opener, Kenney's playing time began to slide. Then at Kansas, Kenney basically lost his spot in the rotation after a pass bounced off his chest into the arms of a Jayhawk defender.
"I was such a nervous wreck last year," Kenney said. "Every time I would get a call, I would completely over think everything.
"I wasn't having any fun."
But during the offseason, Kenney didn't give up. Even after the Sun Bowl, when it looked like Dejuan Miller and Jaz Reynolds had nailed down starting spots at receiver alongside Broyles.
Instead, during the offseason, Kenney studied the offense, improved his downfield blocking and practiced catching the ball with his hands instead of his chest to eliminate the drops.
Above all, Kenney resolved to claw his way back on the field by bringing his best effort to every workout and practice.
"He was a little down on himself," said quarterback Landry Jones. "But something changed with him. He became more hungry."
That hunger pulled Kenney out of the abyss and pushed him back into the starting lineup, where through two games this season he has excelled.
"The kid is really determined. You got to appreciate that in him and I do," said wide receivers coach Jay Norvell. "When I watched him in junior college, I thought he was just like (former OU standout) Juaquin Iglesias. Strong, fast, physical to the ball.
"And I think we're starting to see those qualities come out now that he's comfortable in our offense."
Not only is Kenney finally comfortable. He's finally having fun, too.
"It's great to know that hard work pays off," Kenney said. "I've made it known I want to be on the field and do anything to help the team win.
"I just enjoy being out there, and I appreciate it more after not being out there last year."