NORMAN — As Oklahoma works through a second consecutive spring without the previous season's leading receiver, every Sooner wideout has an opportunity to assume a greater role in the offense.
And just like last spring, sophomore Trey Metoyer is among OU's most intriguing receivers who could be primed for big things.
“Probably Trey Metoyer,” cornerback Cortez Johnson responded last week when asked which wideout is giving him the most trouble. “He had great footwork off the ball and nice speed.”
Oklahoma players and coaches heaped similar praise on Metoyer a year ago, after the freshman enrolled early and made a big impression through the Sooners' spring practices — their first since NCAA all-time receptions leader Ryan Broyles' departure.
The 2012 spring game heightened those expectations, which Metoyer himself embraced after the six-catch, 72-yard performance.
“If I mess up — ‘Oh, he's a freshman?' " he said then. “I don't use that as an excuse. I want to be just like everybody else.”
Excuse or not, Metoyer was just a freshman, and struggled mightily in his first college football season.
He started Oklahoma's first four games of 2012, caught 10 passes and didn't start again, finishing his freshman season with 17 receptions, 148 yards and the single score, which came in a 69-13 rout of Florida A&M.
Metoyer's lack of playing time last season can be attributed, in part, to the emergence of Justin Brown and Jalen Saunders, neither of whom was required to sit out the NCAA's usually required one season after transferring from Penn State and Fresno State, respectively.
But most of it was because the former five-star prospect from Whitehouse, Texas, simply wasn't ready for big-time college football. He was originally part of Oklahoma's 2011 signing class, but academic issues forced him to spend a year at Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia, where he played a little football but mostly concentrated on his studies.
Metoyer has not been made available for interviews yet this spring.
“He's got to work a little bit harder as far as his consistency,” said Jay Norvell, Oklahoma's co-offensive coordinator and receivers coach. “One of the things we talk about is earning the right to be a starter. You've got to be an every-down player. You've got to be the guy that does it right every time, and you're the example to everybody else.
“If you're not that guy, then you won't be that guy.”
Oklahoma's roster includes lots of receivers fully capable of being “that guy,” with 2012 leaders Kenny Stills and Justin Brown NFL-bound.
It starts with Saunders. He was granted eligibility just before Oklahoma's 63-21 rout of Texas, which happened to be the first game Metoyer didn't start.
Saunders quickly emerged as a dynamic weapon, catching 62 passes for 829 yards and three touchdowns. Sophomores Sterling Shepard and Durron Neal are eager for enhanced duty, and redshirt freshman Derrick Woods — one of OU's 2012 Scout Team Players of the Year — has been impressive this spring, too.
There's also senior Lacoltan Bester, who didn't play much last season after transferring from East Mississippi Community College, and senior Jaz Reynolds, who is working his way back into the coaches' good graces after a yearlong suspension in 2012.
“Those guys want to play,” Norvell said of Bester and Reynolds. “They don't want to spend their last year watching everybody else. We have some competition, and it's going to make everybody a little bit more accountable to their performance.
“Trey's got to be a little more consistent to be that kind of guy for us.”