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March 7, 2012Oklahoma hasn't needed to talk about what they've been lacking offensively since Ryan Broyles was lost for the season against Texas A&M a year ago.
It was painfully obvious.
It was obvious when Landry Jones failed to throw a touchdown pass in the final three regular season games without Broyles.
It was obvious when Oklahoma went three-and-out on four of their six first-half possessions against Iowa in the Insight Bowl - a performance that should have been better after spending an entire month preparing for life without Broyles.
It was obvious when wide receivers coach Jay Norvell went out and signed the nation's top recruiting class last February at the wide receiver position.
The Sooners need an infusion of talent at the receiver position.
Trey Metoyer got the ball rolling on Monday, when the Sooners opened up spring football practices.
"The first day he got here with the quarterbacks they were like, 'Man, he has some tools to work with,'" said co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Josh Heupel. "He makes strong catches and has big hands, so we're excited about where he's at."
Oklahoma will welcome in four more highly touted receivers next fall. But Metoyer is the beginning of the shakeup.
"It's really been exciting to watch how he's worked, how competitive he's been, and the physical ability to handle it all, the strength, the running, all of it. That's exciting," said Bob Stoops of Metoyer's day one of spring football. "We'll look for him to make a big jump here out on the field with the other guys."
Metoyer, the former U.S. Army All-American and Rivals.com five-star recruit, spent this past season at Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va., after failing to qualify academically out of high school. Now that he's finally arrived at Oklahoma, the school he signed with out of Whitehouse (TX) High School, he's caught the attention of OU starting quarterback.
"He's a little different than some of the other guys we have," said Jones. "He's able to play the ball really well and he's open when he's not really open. You can kind of throw it up in the back. He's got big, strong, physical hands that can go up and get the ball for you."
There was once a time people said the same things about junior-to-be Kenny Stills.
But Stills failed to make that leap to stardom after Broyles went down last season. Leaving lingering questions about whether he can be a No. 1 receiver in this offense.
The way people are talking about Metoyer this early, he doesn't appear to be destined to be someone else's sidekick.
"You look at our wide receiver depth and (Metoyer's) going to have every opportunity to go out there and earn a spot," said Heupel. "He's going to get plenty of reps and he did some good things (Monday). He's a little bit stronger, more physical type guy than we've had here lately on the outside and he's a competitive kid too."
It's not surprising Metoyer is making waves so early.
But it is a bit surprising that a one player can come in to a program full of talent at so many other positions, and turn heads so easily.
Then again, after the way OU's offense finished the season last year, it shouldn't surprise anyone.
It shouldn't surprise Stills that he's no longer considered the heir to the Broyles throne. Just as it shouldn't surprise Jaz Reynolds and Trey Franks that they are on the verge of being expendable after both players were suspended last season for off-the-field issues.
Metoyer is likely creating waves among players at the position who were a part of OU's offensive struggles a season ago.
And that's okay with Heupel.
"Is there a lot of room for improvement?" asked Heupel. "Certainly.
"You take the guys that you've got and we're gonna find eleven guys that are dependable and are going to do things the right way, that are going to compete extremely hard every single snap and those guys will earn their way on the field and play at a high level for us if they do those things."
Oklahoma feels like they're on the verge of having one of those guys.
Truth be told, they'll have another one in Stills when it's all said and done. Stills' only crime so far is not being Ryan Broyles.
But he's been one of the best No. 2 receivers in the conference over the last two seasons. Stills just needs a little more help to open things up for himself and Jones once again.
"You can totally change offensively just because your personnel changes," explained Heupel. "That happened last year at the end of the year and you certainly have more time to deal with those issues now."
More importantly, they've apparently got more talent worth bragging about with Metoyer finally in the fold.
With even more on the way.