Oklahoma football: Jalen Saunders' many happy returns

OU speedster made three key punt returns late in the season to help the Sooners' surge.
by Ryan Aber Published: December 24, 2013

Then against Kansas State, Saunders ran in front of the coverage on a punt early in the fourth quarter and returned it to the Wildcats' 3 to set up a touchdown that made it a 10-point game.

Then came the Bedlam touchdown, the second consecutive season that Saunders has delivered a punt-return score against the Cowboys.

“I just had plenty of space to run,” Saunders said.

Sure, the blockers delivered some of that space. But Saunders created plenty of it himself.

“Keep your poise, keep your composure, all that,” Saunders said of the keys to his success as a returner. “Watch film and really just prepare yourself for it. Practice it rep after rep. It's something you get used to after awhile.”

Over the last three games, Saunders returned five punts for 191 yards and the two touchdowns, averaging 38.2 yards per return.

Although he hasn't been as prolific over the course of his two seasons in Norman, Saunders' value to the Sooners at the end of this season has been compared to the contributions of Ryan Broyles.

“No doubt,” Sooners coach Bob Stoops said of the similarity of their impacts. “Jalen has been a big-play guy all year. He is very dangerous on punt returns for sure. He's made great plays on offense. So he's definitely that type of player.”

by Ryan Aber
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...
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