HEUPEL: WIDEOUTS A STRONG UNIT
Oklahoma lost its two leading receivers from last year — Kenny Stills and Justin Brown — but co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said the unit remains strong.
“Certainly anytime you lose guys, you are trying to find guys to replace them that are going to play and compete at a high enough level to give you a chance to go after championships,” Heupel said. “We have some wideouts that have played and played well.”
The Sooners return Saunders, who transferred from Fresno State and gained his eligibility midway through last season, and sophomore Sterling Shepard, who played well as a true freshman.
Also, senior Jaz Reynolds continues to work his way back into coaches' good graces after his yearlong suspension in 2012.
Reynolds was OU's third-leading receiver as a sophomore, grabbing 41 receptions for 715 yards and five touchdowns, but was suspended indefinitely last May.
“He had a great winter, and has come back with a sense of urgency,” Heupel said. ”Maybe (he) wants to redeem himself and prove to himself and others what kind of a person he can be on a consistent basis.
“It is a guy that did a lot of positive things as a sophomore and obviously his junior year slips by. But he is a guy that wants to make the most of it.”
NELSON ‘EXPECTING' VARYING ROLES
Senior linebacker Corey Nelson, who recorded 47 tackles and one sack last season, said he expects to play multiple roles in 2013, including more pass rushing.
“We have a couple of packages in and they know that I played in a couple of packages the previous years," Nelson said.
“They always saw me as the type of guy who can play that position, just due to what I did on film the previous years since I've been here. It's very exciting to have multiple packages in with our defense.”
Nelson, like all Oklahoma linebackers, struggled to understand his part in the Sooners' 2012 defense, which often featured no linebackers at all. Two springs ago, OU coach Bob Stoops said Nelson looked like “the best player out there on defense ... In fact, it's not even close.”