Oklahoma football is now 12 practices into its spring schedule as the Sooners barrel toward the annual Red & White Game on April 14. With 12 practices down, OU coaches and players have been able to find out more about the receiver everyone has been talking about for more than a year, former Rivals.com five-star wide receiver Trey Metoyer.
During Tuesday's post-practice interview session, media members focused on comparisons between Metoyer and Kenny Stills. Both players enrolled early and went through spring football.
Stills came to Oklahoma following a 2009 season where most Oklahoma receivers couldn't catch a cold. Metoyer arrives when OU's receiving corps looks eerily similar following the loss of Ryan Broyles late in the 2011 season.
Now Stills and Metoyer head into 2012 as the two most likely candidates who can prevent 2009 from happening again.
But with every question asked about Stills and Metoyer's similarities, coaches and players revealed more about how different they are. And that gives us a pretty good look into the type of player Metoyer might be in 2012.
"They have a very similar mentality. Trey is very confident in his ability to play," said wide receivers coach Jay Norvell. "He's bigger than Kenny and stronger than Kenny. That's the difference in the two as players. But he's very explosive.
"He can get up off the ground so quickly and explosively, and that transfers into his route running. He's got some special tools. He's got huge hands. I think that's one of the things that was so impressive about him, was his ability to catch. He's a vacuum cleaner. He's got great ball skills and he's got a lot to learn. He's got a good feel like Kenny did, but he's a little different guy though. He's bigger and stronger and that's been good to see translate into our offense."
For Stills, that distinction is important. Even though he took over for Broyles last season as a slot receiver, Stills and Broyles complemented each other on the field. While Broyles could settle into empty spaces in defensive backfields, Stills could make big plays over the top.
When Broyles went down, Stills wasn't as effective without another difference maker to draw attention away from him. With Metoyer on the field, the hope is Stills will return to his pre-Broyles injury effectiveness.
The lesson Stills learned in his last two seasons? It's imperative to have other playmakers on the field.
"All the receivers that are coming in - I hosted them, I took them out, I hung out with them - I'm trying to get the best players in our receiving corps; and I know it helps, just like I came in and helped Ryan and guys are coming to help me. And we have plenty of guys that are coming in to help," Stills said.
Maybe the most important factor in this equation is the trigger man. Landry Jones was just as affected by the lack of playmakers when Broyles went down last season. But just like Norvell, Jones sees enough differences in Stills in Metoyer to know both players can play key roles.
"They're two totally different players," he said. "Kenny uses speed to get open. Trey is going to use his body and be physical with you. I think he's got a similar mentality. Every kid is different. But as far as him being ready to play and him wanting to play, I do think he's there. He's got that mentality that he needs to step in and take someone's job to get to play on Saturdays next fall."
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Fans were able to see some of Metoyer's exploits from the Sooners' second major scrimmage when OU posted a highlight of the frosh receiver making a one-handed grab between two defenders and bolting through the secondary for a touchdown.
That physical nature and athleticism will command attention in 2012. It could be exactly what co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel is looking for to make this offense a high-flyer once again.
"He's getting there. He's got a lot of raw ability," said Jones of Metoyer. "He's a big, strong, physical kid. You like that on the outside where he can body somebody up and go get the ball. Right now he's still learning and getting into the offense. But I think he's going to be a good player in the fall."