Over the last year OU coach Bob Stoops and co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel have said they are going to incorporate tight ends back into their offensive scheme. Following the departure of former Sooner quarterback Landry Jones, they did that -- if not in the way most would have assumed.
Heupel used former fullback Trey Millard and senior Aaron Ripkowski as tight end targets in passing situations and players like former Sooner Brannon Green and sophomore Connor Knight in running situations.
In Saturday's spring game though, at least one player listed as a tight end on the depth chart was in for running and passing situations. And sophomore Taylor McNamara made the most of his time on the field.
He caught three passes for 16 yards. Two of them were touchdowns.
video by Eddie Radosevich"It felt good. It's another step for me, I think," McNamara said. "I've gotta keep getting better, keep progressing and hope for the best."
McNamara was flexed out in the slot on some occasions like former Sooner Jermaine Gresham had been years before. Those were the kind of situations, the kind of plays, he dreamt of before he came to Norman.
"When I came here, you hear all the names they throw at you," he said. "Gresham. Brody Eldridge, Hanna, all those guys. They throw all the names at you, and that's appealing. You want to be like those guys, making plays, and that definitely had some influence on me."
McNamara wasn't the only man trying to emulate pass Sooners. Freshman Dimitri Flowers is making an effort to carry on the legacy started by Millard -- the do-everything fullback. He's spent time with Millard and leaned on him to teach him what is needed from him.
"When I first got here especially, we watched film almost every weekend, got a couple games here and there," Flowers said. "Just learning new plays in the system, and now at the spring game we were sitting next to each other just having a great time.
"He's a great guy. I look up to him a lot. Obviously I'm gonna learn to be like him and try to do better, actually. We'll see what happens."
OU coaches and players have raved about how quickly Flowers has picked up the offense in such a short amount of time, and he certainly seemed to in the spring game. Flowers caught four passes -- tied for the most by a player all day -- for 40 yards.
Flowers left the game late due to injury -- a hyper-extended right knee -- but he's expected to recover quickly and be ready for summer workouts. He's in the tight end meeting room and hopes his position will be out in force come September.
"We have Blake [Bell], we have Rip, we have five or six really good guys who can step in and get the job done," he said. "We're working, doing everything coach tells us to do, listening to the (offensive coordinator) and hopefully we can get it done."