Damien Williams and Brennan Clay played football against each other from their little-league days through high school in San Diego; today, the juniors are Oklahoma's two leading rushers.
Williams, a junior-college transfer from Arizona Western, played his high school football at San Diego's Mira Mesa. He became the Sooners' starting running back in the fourth game of this season, finishing with a team-high 905 yards and 11 touchdowns. He began his collegiate career at Arizona Western.
Clay signed with the Sooners out of another San Diego high school, Scripps Ranch; he's always been considered a great teammate, but finally began realizing his full potential on the field this season. He's rushed for 511 yards and six touchdowns, including a game winning, 18-yard touchdown in overtime of Oklahoma's thrilling Bedlam win Nov. 24.
“We played against the same teams; we played against each other,” Williams said. “It feels great to know ... San Diego kids can come out here and compete with anybody.”
REYNOLDS NEEDS TO FOCUS, NORVELL SAID
Junior wide receiver Jaz Reynolds, one of four players indefinitely suspended last May for violating team rules, never got on the game field this season.
As a sophomore last year, Reynolds was the Sooners' third-leading receiver, with 41 receptions, 715 yards and five touchdowns. After senior Justin Brown transferred from Penn State and contributed significantly, there wasn't any reason to rush Reynolds back into action.
Plus, he still needs to focus on what's important, said co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell.
“The guys that compete and do well in practice get their chances in the game,” Norvell said. “Jaz has got a lot of experience; he's a big, fast guy. He's got great hands. He just needs to get his focus back to where it was when he was playing good. If he does that, I don't think there's any question he can help us.”
Brown will be gone next season; if leading receiver Kenny Stills decides to forgo his senior season and enter the NFL Draft, Reynolds' opportunity in the spring may be even greater.
“Jaz has got to keep pushing, keep plugging, and sawing wood, and he'll get his chance to get back out there,” Norvell said.
SHEAD'S ANKLE HEALED UP
Oklahoma sophomore guard Adam Shead said his nagging ankle injury has healed up during the Sooners' long break.
“I was so happy when the season ended,” Shead said with a laugh. “We really needed that. ... I'm great; I'm ready to go.”
Shead had to be helped off the field several times this season with his bum ankle, and was forced to miss about half of the Sooners' regular-season finale at TCU. Junior guard Bronson Irwin has also missed time with an ankle issue.
“It's a bummer because you don't wanna be that guy on the team,” Shead said. “When you can't perform at the best possible level you can perform at, it's always bad.”
Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones, when asked if he was better this year because he couldn't rely on Ryan Broyles:
“Yeah, I do feel that way. But then again, you look at a player like Ryan, why wouldn't you throw him the ball? If people want to knock that, they want to knock that. But I feel like in our offense, if you have a player like Ryan Broyles, why wouldn't you want to throw it to him 10 or 11 times a game, you know?”