The Oklahoma Sooners lost a lot of talent following the 2012 season, particularly in the passing game. Quarterback Landry Jones and the top two receivers from a year ago, Kenny Stills and Justin Brown, are gone leaving Bob Stoops searching for playmakers to step up at receiver. Senior Jalen Saunders answered the call this spring and is poised for a breakout season as the No. 1 receiver role in 2013.
Looking back at 2012, Saunders was already making a move towards the top of the wide receiver depth chart as he turned into the most efficient receiver in the Oklahoma passing game during the second half of last season. He finished year third on the team in receiving, catching 62 passes for 829 yards and three touchdowns in just nine games. A strong spring has solidified his role as the go-to guy in the passing game heading into next season.
Oklahoma will need to fill out the role nicely. While there is talent filling out the rest of the wide receiver depth chart, it’s untested talent. There’s no telling how well they will adapt to featured roles in the offense, especially with a new starting quarterback under center. Having a steady presence with a track record of making plays will bring composure to the entire group and help to get the Sooners passing game off the ground.
For the Sooners to win in the wide open Big 12 in 2013, they will have to be able to throw the ball. To do that, they need playmakers who can catch the ball and then do something with it. Is Jalen Saunders ready to be that playmaker for Oklahoma? Absolutely.