EL PASO, Texas — After all the praise and sky-high expectations for 2012, Trey Metoyer makes his debut in crimson and cream Saturday night, when Oklahoma opens its season at UTEP.
Wait, isn't that supposed to work the other way?
The man who recruited Metoyer and is one of his biggest fans implied as much.
When co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell was asked earlier this month about OU's true freshmen receivers — Durron Neal, Sterling Shepard and Derrick Woods — he noticed an omission, and pointed out a fact that's easy to forget: Trey Metoyer is a true freshman, too, and as such, isn't immune to some of the rawness normal for newcomers.
“Trey Metoyer's a freshman,” Norvell said before repeating himself. “Trey Metoyer's a freshman.
“He's had a good camp, but the challenge is to go out there every day and play at the highest level and to try and do all the little things better than everybody else.”
Originally a 2011 signee, academic issues forced a semester at Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia. He earned his eligibility, enrolled at OU in January and shined in the spring game, which gave a relatively small number of Sooner fans their first and, so far, only glimpse at Metoyer's tremendous talent.
When a reporter asked if he feels like a freshman, Metoyer responded, “No, I really don't. ... That's the confidence I need going on the field. Don't play like a freshman; just perform.”
Despite welcoming the high expectations, though, Metoyer has also said things to temper them a bit.
So Saturday, as OU fans are reintroduced to the mysterious Metoyer, of whom they've heard so much but seen so little, they should know that he's trying to ease into this new adventure.
“I'm expecting to be better, but if not, I'll go back in the film room and take it day by day,” he said. “This first game is to come out and see where I'm at, and then, as we get into the teams in the Big 12, (the nonconference schedule) just prepares me for that.”
Trey Metoyer is the Sooner newcomer everyone is talking about, but he's not the only one who could have an impact this season.
In Saturday's season opener at UTEP, expect lots of freshmen and transfers to play and possibly have big games, propelling them toward strong debut campaigns in 2012. Here are five newcomers for OU to watch Saturday night:
STERLING SHEPARD, FR., WR
Though Sterling Shepard embraces his family's OU football legacy — he will wear his late father's No. 3 — Shepard's reputation was earned independently, through a stellar prep career at Heritage Hall. Not too long ago, Shepard seemed poised to start in the slot right away, but after late roster additions, he'll be a second-teamer for now. Still, expect Shepard to be an immediate, important OU contributor.
JUSTIN BROWN, SR., WR
The circumstances that led to senior Justin Brown's impending one-year OU career are tragic, but the Sooners stand to benefit — big-time — from the former Penn State receiver's impressive skill set. In less than a month with the team, he's earned a start tonight at UTEP and will also return punts.
MICHAEL ONUOHA, FR., DE
This time last year, Michael Onuoha had just played Game 1 of his first full high school football season. Saturday, he'll likely make his college football debut. Bobby Jack Wright said both Onuoha and Charles Tapper, another true freshman DE, are raw, but that neither will redshirt. Onuoha has worked to bulk up after spending most of high school focused on basketball.
DAMIEN WILLIAMS, JR., RB
Damien Williams rushed for nearly 2,000 yards last season at Arizona Western, but has never played in a no-huddle system like the Sooners run. Cale Gundy said Williams, though, earned the opportunity for carries because of how quickly he picked up the foreign system in fall camp.
GARY SIMON, FR., CB
Gary Simon didn't arrive in the summer with most of his fellow true freshmen; he showed up just before fall camp started and played so well that he's listed as a second-team cornerback. Mike Stoops said he's still got a long way to go, but the talent is there for Simon to contribute early.