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Oklahoma football: Wide receiver Justin Brown might be a game-breaker as a punt returner

The Penn State transfer averaged 7.0 yards on 42 returns over the last three seasons.
BY STEPHANIE KUZYDYM Staff Writer skuzydym@opubco.com Modified: August 30, 2012 at 8:20 am •  Published: August 29, 2012

NORMAN — The crowd noise began to heighten during the 20 seconds that ticked off the clock.

By the time Ryan Broyles slowed to a walk into the end zone, the announcer shouted, “Oh, Mama. Touchdown, Sooners.”

The Oklahoma star had just completed an 87-yard punt return in the 2009 Bedlam football game in Norman.

Two-plus seasons and 70 returns since the Sooners returned a punt for a touchdown, Broyles is now a Detroit Lion. And for the first time since his freshman season of 2008, the Sooners were about to start a season without an experienced hand to field punts.

Then, one dropped out of the sky.

Justin Brown's punt returning skills rank behind his receiving talents on the list of most important ways the Penn State transfer will help the Sooners. But they're still significant.

Not since Antonio Perkins set an NCAA record with three punt-return touchdowns in one game against UCLA have the Sooners had a game-breaker in that spot. Broyles was an All-Big 12 punt returner in 2009, but his dependability was more important than the threat of a big play. He averaged 11.0 yards on 107 career returns, which rank third in OU history behind Perkins (113) and Jarrail Jackson (126).

Enter Brown, another reliable, experienced — if not entirely explosive — hand.

This week, coach Bob Stoops announced the senior will return punts.

Brown returned 42 the last three seasons, averaging 7.0 yards. OU's next most experienced returner: Kenny Stills (6.0 yards on nine career returns).

“I'm not here to be the face,” Brown said. “I'm here to contribute. If that's where they say I can help out, that's what I'm going to do.”

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