Originally posted on Fox Sports Southwest  |  Last updated 11/8/11
Saturday night should have been a big celebration for fans of the Oklahoma Sooners. After all, their beloved Crimson and Cream handed Texas A&M a blowout loss in Norman, sending them to the Southeastern Conference with yet another defeat in the Aggies' Big 12 farewell tour but that win at Owen Field came at a huge price. Of course, we're talking about star wide receiver Ryan Broyles suffering a knee injury against the Ags and being lost for the year. And since the Norman native is a senior, his collegiate career is effectively over with that injury. It's a big loss on several fronts for OU. That's because not only did the Sooner offense lose its most dependable target through the air and the return game lose a pretty potent weapon in that respect, but they also lose Broyles' veteran presence, which can never be discounted. The OU pass catcher was as humble as they come and hopefully he recovers from his injury and is able to become a dependable receiver in the NFL because he certainly has the skills and build to be a successful wideout in the professional ranks. But enough about Broyles, Sooner fans realize that while losing their star pass catcher was a huge blow, their receiving corps is definitely not short on talent. Now this group will be led by a talented pair of sophomores in Kenny Stills and Jaz Reynolds, who have combined for 73 catches, 1188 yards and 13 touchdowns so far this season. Stills' stellar performance is no big surprise, especially since he comes off a season where he broke most OU freshman receiving records, catching 61 passes for 786 yards and five touchdowns. The 6-foot-1 California native should thrive as the top option through the air for Sooner quarterback Landry Jones and the numbers should illustrate that vividly. Reynolds is a fellow sophomore who redshirted in 2010 but in 2009 as a true freshman, the Houston native caught 13 passes for 256 yards in nine games. Like Stills, who is 6-foot-1, he has good size at 6-2, which has helped make this terrific tandem frequent targets of Jones. One more sophomore who warrants mentioning is Trey Franks, who so far, has nine catches for 94 yards this season. The 5-foot-10 receiver had a solid freshman campaign, catching 29 balls for 263 yards and one score. And with more passes coming his way, his production should go up accordingly. Franks was listed as Broyles' back-up on the depth chart, so it will be interesting to see how he handles a starting role if in fact he is the starter going forward. However, one player who warrants mentioning here is now also the lone senior of the group, at least on the field. DeJuan Miller has just 11 catches for 121 yards and one touchdown but did have 36 catches for 434 yards and one touchdown in 2009. His 2010 season was limited to just six games because of a knee injury. Like Broyles, Miller is a senior, so it's hard to discount the positive influence a veteran like him can have on what is for the most part, a group completely composed of underclassmen. True freshman Kameel Jackson (3 catches, 31 yards) is another member of this group worth mentioning. The six-foot freshman is a product of Arlington Sam Houston High School who could also make a big catch or two when called upon. But the Sooners also have a pair of talented tight ends in seniors James Hanna (17 catches, 227 yards, 2 touchdowns) and Trent Ratterree, whos is more of a blocker. But both are capable of catching passes on a semi-regular basis and giving OU another option through the air. Running back Roy Finch can also catch passes out the backfield when asked to, giving the Sooners and Jones another viable options in their passing game. So, while for most offenses, losing a player the caliber of Ryan Broyles would be almost a death knell to their offense, but that is not the case for the Oklahoma Sooners. Sure, they are going to miss having their most dependable receiver and star kick returner on the field, but OU has a pretty deep receiving corps even with their top option now out for the season. Kenny Stills and Jaz Reynolds may not quite have the star appeal of Broyles in national circles but based on the numbers this talented duo has posted so far this year behind Broyles, it might not be long before both of them become household names in national circles. And as long as the Sooners still have Landry Jones under center, this passing game will continue to press on at an almost prolific pace. Sure, the cast might have changed a bit but the results likely will not even after losing an All-American talent like Broyles. Few teams can boast the depth that Bob Stoops has in Norman and that depth might not be more evident than in their current wide receiving corps.
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