football Edit

Breaking down Finley's room

Welcome back to Oklahoma, Joe Jon Finley. And you are returning as the tight ends/H-Backs coach with an embarrassment of riches.

Nobody uses this position better than head coach Lincoln Riley, and there is zero reason to think that’s going to stop anytime soon with Finley leading the charge.

Breaking down what they did in 2020 and what you could expect in 2021.

Jeremiah Hall (RS Jr.)

2020 stats: 18 receptions for 218 yards, 5 TDs

The story: That catch-to-touchdown ratio is a nice number for Hall. Didn’t have his number called too often, but Spencer Rattler knew he could always count on him. Hall doesn’t dazzle you, but he’s incredibly dependable. He definitely understands what it takes to succeed at this position and has become one of the team’s best interviews, in terms of having the pulse of the team.

2021 outlook: Nothing should change, really, because what Hall does do well, he does at such a high level. Think a point of emphasis will be for him to continue to grow as a blocker. He’s the elder statesman in what is a ridiculously dynamic room. So if Hall isn’t getting touches, that just means the younger guys have officially grown up.

Austin Stogner (Soph.)

2020 stats: 26 receptions for 422 yards, 3 TDs

The story: Stogner had a nice season that could have been even better if it wasn’t for that injury that turned into a staph infection and had him miss the bulk of the latter half of the season. Because of his size, Stogner learned how opponents are going to go low and keep going low to bring him down. He made some tough, competitive catches and that chemistry with Rattler is easy to see.

2021 outlook: You’d expect just bigger and better things. The key will be for Stogner to stay healthy because that size absolutely makes him a big target to be chopped down. If there’s one ingredient that needs to be added to his repertoire, it’s physicality. When Stogner starts running through people, you know he’s reached that next level. Should be a banner year in store.

Brayden Willis (Jr.)

2020 stats: 9 receptions for 110 yards, TD

The story: That’s not at all what Willis anticipated for his junior season. It began with a COVID-19 disruption and then went completely off the rails with a leg injury in his first action of the season. He battled his way back to slowly become a factor again. But if anybody deserved a COVID eligibility do-over for 2021, like everybody is getting, it’s Willis.

2021 outlook: What you can appreciate about Willis is once he returned, he made a big impact in the Big 12 championship win vs. Iowa State. He’s a lot stronger than he was in the past. Someone that can be used in the red zone, for sure, but there’s a lot more to his game. More than anything with this group, it’s going to be about health and Finley figuring out how to divvy up these snap counts.

Mikey Henderson (Fr.)

2020 stats: 12 receptions for 168 yards, TD; 9 rushes for 81 yards, TD

The story: Every year or so there’s that one freshman a lot of fans believe should have been on the field more. It’s Henderson for the 2020 season. He feels like the next generation of the H-Back position. Whenever he was out there or touched the ball, you thought a big play was possible. He still had some moments, but everybody is gushing about what he can do moving forward.

2021 outlook: Henderson is electric with the ball in his hands. The next step will be for Henderson to become an all-around player. If he can be as effective as a blocker as he can as a running back/receiver, then you have the total package. That’ll take some time, but you imagine if Henderson stays at this rate, he’s going to continue to excel at a high level and make some game-changing plays.

Waiting in the wings: Tight end commit Jason Llewellyn.