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Four Sooners' individual turnarounds were crucial

The late-season play of Cameron Kenney, Pryce Macon, Austin Box and Jimmy Stevens were essential the Sooners reaching, and winning, the Fiesta Bowl.
By Jake Trotter Modified: January 3, 2011 at 11:19 am •  Published: January 2, 2011

GLENDALE, Ariz. — In Oklahoma's Nov. 6 loss at Texas A&M, neither Cameron Kenney nor Pryce Macon hardly stepped on the field.

Jimmy Stevens was supplanted on the field goal team.

Austin Box played sparingly, still recuperating from a preseason back injury.

Yet in remarkable turnaround stories, all four players proved to be instrumental to OU's late-season surge, which culminated with Saturday's 48-20 win over Connecticut in the Fiesta Bowl.

They “made a big difference,” coach Bob Stoops said.

No one more than Kenney, one of the Sooners' most valuable players the last three games.

On Saturday, Kenney capped his magical, out-of-nowhere emergence with another monster performance. He reeled in a career-high seven catches for a career-high 154 yards, including a 59-yard third-quarter touchdown — the longest bowl reception of the Stoops era.

“I told him before the game, ‘You're going to have another big night,'” Stoops said. “But I didn't know how big.”

Entering the regular-season finale at Oklahoma State, Kenney totaled just 14 catches and one touchdown.

He finished the year with 33 catches and four touchdowns, and furnished three of OU's biggest plays of the season: the fourth-quarter score at OSU, the third-and-forever grab against Nebraska's Prince Amukamara and the Fiesta touchdown that basically put the game out of UConn's reach.

“Never give up on anything,” Kenney declared after the bowl win. “And whenever you get your chance, just go at it.”

Stoops said Sunday morning in all his years of coaching he's never had a player emerge like that so late in the season.

“I kept telling him I was so pleased for him, his games here down the stretch, he's just been huge,” Stoops said. “It finally clicked for him. Confidence is a big thing and understanding to run your routes, running them in a way you know they're going to work. That little step-and-go, he just hit it perfectly. Just fun to watch. A guy that really gets it. It's sad he doesn't have more time, because it's finally clicked for him in the last few weeks.”

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