Oklahoma football: Injuries to Sterling Shepard, Durron Neal give young receivers a chance to shine

Even if Shepard and Neal had been able to go full-bore through spring practice, though, the Sooners would still be searching for more answers at the spot as they try to replace Jalen Saunders and Lacoltan Bester.
by Ryan Aber Published: April 12, 2014

NORMAN — After Saturday’s spring game was over and students streamed onto the field for a postgame concert, Oklahoma’s wide receivers were still working.

The group stuck around afterward for a series of up-downs, with even injured Sterling Shepard and Durron Neal walking alongside.

“There’s just some mistakes that we did but we’re going to correct those and we’re going to get better and learn from it,” redshirt freshman receiver Jordan Smallwood said. “Basically if we’re not doing it right, we’re going to have to correct it so that’s our mindset for this year and we’re going to stick with it.”

Oklahoma’s receiving corps coming back is plenty inexperienced.

Shepard has 96 catches and 10 touchdown receptions over the past two seasons but outside of that only Neal has more than two career catches.

With both out Saturday, that left plenty of opportunity for younger, more inexperienced receivers — like Smallwood — to shine.

“A lot of people expect them to do some big things,” Smallwood said. “Now they’re sitting out and they’re expecting us to do a lot of big things too. We’ve got to go out there and show that it’s not just them that could play but we can play as well.”

Even if Shepard and Neal had been able to go full-bore through spring practice, though, the Sooners would still be searching for more answers at the spot as they try to replace Jalen Saunders, the undersized inside receiver who consistently made big plays for the Sooners after transferring from Fresno State, and Lacoltan Bester, who was a diverse weapon in the offense last season especially.

Smallwood, the freshman from Jenks who missed last season after suffering a foot injury just before two-a-days began, made his mark Saturday with a few nifty catches, including a 20-yarder from Justice Hansen late in the first half of the scrimmage and a touchdown catch later in the game.


by Ryan Aber
Reporter
Ryan Aber has worked for The Oklahoman since 2006, covering high schools, the Oklahoma City RedHawks, the Oklahoma City Barons and OU football recruiting. An Oklahoma City native, Aber graduated from Northeastern State. Before joining The...
+ show more


Trending Now


AROUND THE WEB

  1. 1
    Angels' Garrett Richards has torn knee tendon, will miss pennant drive
  2. 2
    Tulsa minister charged in $930,000 scheme might have embezzled more
  3. 3
    Nick Cannon Confirms He And Wife Mariah Carey Are Living Apart
  4. 4
    School Required Reading That Will Change Your Life
  5. 5
    OSU basketball: Cowboys release complete schedule
+ show more