OU tight end James Hanna knew all along he could contribute more

BY DARNELL MAYBERRY, Staff Writer, dmayberry@opubco.com Published: August 17, 2011

NORMAN — Personally, James Hanna didn't need a breakout game last season.

His coaches needed it from him.

When the OU tight end capped a career day by hauling in a game-sealing, 76-yard touchdown pass at Oklahoma State, it put the staff on notice about exactly what kind of ability Hanna held.

Hanna, of course, always knew.

That's why the game that Hanna describes as his most enjoyable last season did little to boost his confidence.

“To be honest, it probably did more for the coaches than me just because I've always believed I've had the ability to do something like that,” said Hanna, who finished the Bedlam game with four catches for 130 yards, both career highs. “But once everybody else sees it in the game, it kind of makes it more legitimate for everybody else.”

Now going into his senior season, Hanna wants to build on the success he found toward the tail end of last year.

“I'm trying to have a real good year,” Hanna said. “I'm certainly trying to appear on a few charts, like All-Big 12 or something like that. Other than that, I just want our team to do well.”

To do his part, Hanna wants to first focus on blocking. Hanna and fellow tight ends Trent Ratterree and Austin Haywood know it'll be critical to pump life in a Sooners' ground game that averaged just 3.3 yards per carry last season, last in the Big 12.

But Hanna also is hiding his desire to be a bigger part of the offense by catching more passes. He had just 18 receptions last season, though seven went for touchdowns.

If he's taken anything away from his Bedlam performance it's the feeling of being a big factor in a big game. It's a feeling Hanna wants to hold onto this season. In the game against the Cowboys, Hanna fondly remembers his reception in the first half that led to a field goal right before halftime. His pair of chain-moving catches in that contest also still excites him.

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