NORMAN — Lacoltan Bester admits that he wasn't ready for big-time college football when he arrived in Norman around 20 months ago.
The former East Mississippi Community College superstar was expected to immediately contribute in Oklahoma’s then-depleted wide receiver corps, but it didn't pan out for a variety of reasons, some personal and some beyond his control, like the sudden arrival and eligibility of Division I transfers Justin Brown and Jalen Saunders.
“I was out of shape,” Bester said. “I wasn't as ready as I should have been. That put me behind in the playing process. Then this year, I was just getting comfortable in doing what I wanted to do. Now it’s time to go.”
The NFL Draft begins Thursday this week, and very few Oklahoma players are locks for selection. Bester — with only 421 receiving yards and two touchdowns over his pair of seasons as a Sooner — would seemingly be an unlikely pick, but with his high ceiling and the way his OU career ended, it’s not impossible.
Bester said he’s talked to around eight teams, and estimates his chances of being drafted at “70 or 75 percent.”
“There’s a good chance that I should get drafted, but if not, I’ll have to take the free agency route,” Bester said. “I know I’ll have that option.”
The Sooners signed Bester in May 2012 after coach Bob Stoops suspended three veteran receivers indefinitely. At that point, junior-to-be Kenny Stills was the only eligible, returning wideout Oklahoma had with a single career reception in major college football.
Then Saunders transferred from Fresno State — becoming eligible after five games — and Brown joined the Sooners just after fall camp opened, when he transferred from Penn State in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
True freshman Sterling Shepard also emerged as a playmaker, leaving very few opportunities for Bester, who freely acknowledges he wasn't ready for that stage yet, anyway, and caught only three passes for 29 yards his junior season.