Oklahoma’s roster construction for team 129 isn’t finished yet, and that’s fine. It’s only January. However, as Oklahoma looks to retool its roster and improve next season, it’ll have to do it without one of its best players. Marvin Mims announced his decision to forego one more year of eligibility and declared for the 2023 NFL draft.
It’s hard to blame him as he’s led the Sooners in receiving every year of his collegiate career and can’t prove too much else to draft pundits and scouts. His absence gives Oklahoma another problem that this offensive staff will have to figure out in the months ahead of the 2023 season opener.
With Mims out of the door, the Sooners have lost 66% of their receiving yards from this 2022 season. Mims, Brayden Willis, Eric Gray, and Theo Wease are gone. Jalil Farooq and Drake Stoops are Oklahoma’s top two options as things stand.
Farooq totaled 466 receiving yards, while Stoops had 393 yards in 2022. They will need better performances from both, plus help from someone new to make up the 2,000 yards they’ve lost this winter. Who will help fill the void and make up the difference?
Expect Jalil Farooq to get a bump in targets and touches in 2023.
The third year Sooner was solid in 2022. He didn’t have a 100-yard game and finished fourth in receptions, but only Marvin Mims had more games of four receptions or more this season than Farooq. Toss in his 15 carries for 140 yards, and only Eric Gray and Mims had more yards from scrimmage than Farooq. Farooq did have 100 total yards against Iowa State when he caught 4 passes for 74 yards and a touchdown and ran the ball twice for 26 yards.
He’s a dynamic player with the ball in his hands and can win at every level of the defense.
2022 freshmen Gavin Freeman, Nic Anderson, and Jaylen Gibson could also have an impact in 2023.
Freeman was on the field for 77 snaps according to Pro Football Focus. He finished with 7 receptions for 71 yards, along with three carries for 46 yards and a touchdown. His speed and big-play ability were an asset for the Sooners and another offseason in Norman should help him get some more opportunities. Freeman is the most likely candidate to see a bump up based on his play in 2022.
Gibson had a big-time TD in the spring game but didn’t see many opportunities in the passing game in 2022. He played 96 snaps but only saw five targets. He turned that into one reception for 12 yards. More weight room progress and a big off-season could help give him a shot to see more playing time and potentially replace Marvin Mims.
Nic Anderson played sparingly and didn’t see a target in the passing game. His freshman season was limited due to offseason injuries.
LV Bunkley-Shelton and JJ Hester both transferred in before the season last year. Later arrivals, they struggled to crack the rotation during the 2022 season. Shelton saw the field a bit more at the end of the season and even made a catch in the Cheez-It Bowl. Shelton could fit best in the slot, while Hester is an outside guy.
Both played Power Five football before coming to OU. That experience and a full offseason in the program could help them earn more opportunities in 2023. That time in the program should equip them to have a better understanding of the offense.
Oklahoma’s tight-end room will need to grow in a big way in 2023. Austin Stogner comes in to replace Brayden Willis as the leader in the room and the starting tight end. But the Sooners used a lot of 12 personnel, with one running back, two wide receivers, and two tight ends. So, Oklahoma will need Kaden Helms and Jason Llewelyn to take a significant step forward to improve the tight end depth in 2023.
The remaining possibilities come from players not on campus yet. A freshman that looks likely to break out, four-star wide receiver Jaquaize Pettaway. He’s a blur and instantly one of the fastest on the team upon his arrival. You can’t coach that type of speed. It’ll be hard to envision a world where Lebby doesn’t at least have him out there catching screens, running jet sweeps, and letting him run go and backside post routes.
Altogether this is what Oklahoma has in its receiving cupboard for 2023. Increased opportunities for Jalil Farooq and Drake Stoops seem inevitable. In fact, if they don’t take steps forward, none of this discussion matters. They’ll need assistance from their 2023 recruiting class, a transfer, or a surprise from their depth chart to make up the remainder of the receiving production lost this offseason.
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