Originally Published: Feb 13, 2010 5:30 PM CDT
Oklahoma Sports Staff Writer
WR Jaz Reynolds
Reynolds attended Eisenhower High School in Houston, Texas. He had to sit out much of his senior year because of an ankle injury, but still finished with 620 yards and five touchdowns on 31 receptions, an average of 20 yards per catch. Rivals.com rated him as a three-star recruit and the No. 93 receiver in the nation. As a true freshman for the Sooners last season, he caught 13 passes for 256 yards. His average of 19.7 yards per catch was the highest on the team.
Why he’s on the list:
Reynolds showed flashes of brilliance as a true freshman last season and saw more playing time as the season went on. He proved that he has the potential to be a big-play threat, but as a complimentary player, not a centerpiece. He still needs to work on his route running, but OU receivers coach Jay Norvell could turn him into a legitimate weapon with a full offseason to groom him.
Reynolds develops into a solid No. 3 receiver, requiring defenders to respect him as a deep threat. That attention prevents opponents from double-teaming Ryan Broyles, allowing him to become an even more explosive playmaker. Reynolds’ emergence also allows offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson to open up the playbook, something he was unable to do last season.
Reynolds becomes the next player on a growing list of OU receivers who struggle to reach their potential. His route running does not improve, resulting in the Sooners’ inability to spread defenders across the field. The Sooners’ offense remains stuck in neutral, preventing them from climbing back among the top-ranked teams in the nation.
Jay Norvell is an excellent receivers coach, but his last few pet projects have not panned out. Adron Tennell, Brandon Caleb and Cameron Kenney were all expected to be major contributors last season. However, Tennell could not get open, Caleb struggled to stay on the field and Kenney could not hold on to the football.
Reynolds has already shown that he can be more consistent than any of those three, but he will need to make some major strides this season if he wants to have a significant role in the Sooners’ offense. He will get a chance to show what he’s made of during the spring. I expect him to impress the coaches enough to earn an increase in playing time, but he’s young and will still struggle through slumps at times.
His emergence won’t make the Sooners’ receiver corps as good as it was when Juaquin Iglesias, Manuel Johnson and Quentin Chaney were in Norman. However, it will be a significant improvement over last season, when OU struggled to find anyone to compliment Ryan Broyles. The improvement of Dejuan Miller will also be a key to the Sooners’ passing game. See later in our “Players to Watch” series for more on Miller.
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