2018 Position Preview: Receivers
NORMAN — Since Lincoln Riley arrived in Norman in 2015, Oklahoma leads the nation in points per game (44.2), total offense (555.5
Fortunately for Riley, OU's 2018 collection of pass-catchers looks like it could be as solid as any of the last three seasons.
Headlining a group of eight returning lettermen are a pair of 2017 starters in outside receivers Marquise "Hollywood" Brown and CeeDee Lamb. The prolific duo combined for 103 catches, 1,902 yards
Following one season of junior college in 2016, Brown, a preseason All-Big 12 pick who last month was listed by NFL.com as college football's top wide receiver to watch, hauled in 57 receptions for a team-high 1,095 yards and seven scores to help propel OU to the College Football Playoff. Included was a school-record 265-yard effort (two TDs) in a win at Oklahoma State. Brown's blazing speed and penchant for making things happen in both the short- and long-passing game make him one of the country's most explosive weapons.
Lamb, an ESPN freshman All-American a season ago, ranked third on the team with 46 catches, set the OU freshman record with 807 receiving yards and tied the OU frosh mark with seven receiving TDs. The high school All-American had no trouble making the leap to major college football, as he started 13 of 14 games and ranked third nationally among freshmen with his 17.5 yards per catch.
What's the next step in their progression?
"I'm expecting the game to slow down for them," said OU outside receivers coach Dennis Simmons. "They weren't the most confident last year in what they were doing. I'm expecting them to make a big jump there. I also really want to see them improve after the catch. They both are practicing right now at a faster speed than they were last year. Adding Coach (Bennie) Wylie to the strength staff and incorporating a lot of the things we did in the offseason, you can see physically they've matured a little bit.
"And being in the system for a full year, they understand a lot of the play concepts, where we're trying to go with the football and where they factor into that puzzle."
"We're expecting high output from a lot of guys."
- Dennis Simmons
Joining Brown and Lamb as an outside receiver with experience is junior A.D. Miller, who redshirted last season. Miller has 18 career receptions, including 12 for 145 yards and a pair of TDs as a sophomore in 2016.
Also expected to make a splash on the outside is redshirt freshman Charleston Rambo, a former top-100 national recruit by Rivals who has been turning heads for the last year in practice. Two more new faces are Jaquayln Crawford, a speedy consensus four-star recruit from Texas who recorded over 150 receptions, 2,500 receiving yards and 33 receiving touchdowns during his high school career, and Jaylon Robinson, a versatile and elusive four-star receiver who began on the inside at OU but moved outside.
Simmons said the Sooners are going to need production from all of those players.
"Traditionally in this offense, if we want to be as successful as we possibly can we're going to need more than two guys at each position to make plays," explained the fourth-year OU assistant. "I expect A.D. to factor in this fall, I'm expecting Charleston Rambo and Jaylon Robinson and Jaquayln Crawford to factor in. We're expecting high output from a lot of guys."
On the inside, sophomore Grant Calcaterra appears to be Andrews' heir apparent at
"Losing a guy who played a lot of games for us the last three years is obviously going to be tough," said co-offensive coordinator and inside receivers coach Cale Gundy of Andrews. "As a route runner, you get consistency by seeing and doing things over and over and over. We feel really good about the progress Grant and Lee
Several Sooners will battle for time at slot receiver. Redshirt senior Nick Basquine was primed for a breakout campaign last year after a 20-catch, 265-yard, two-TD 2016. But an Achilles tear early in camp derailed his 2017 season, and then he tore his other Achilles during a January workout.
"We're still trying to figure out how effective he'll be," Gundy said on Monday of Basquine. "(Our staff was) just watching film and he was running pretty close to full speed — 95 or 97 percent."
Junior Mykel Jones and redshirt senior Myles Tease will also likely see time this season. Jones played in all 14 games last year and registered 16 receptions for 310 yards (team-high 19.4 yards per catch) and a TD (55-yarder against TCU in the Big 12 Championship Game).
A newcomer who could also earn time at the slot position is Drake Stoops, a freshman who has flashed his ability early in training camp.
Said Gundy of OU's first-year receivers, "They're good players. They're good enough to play right now. How much success can they have? It's just kind of wait and