NORMAN — Few would find a silver lining in major shoulder surgery, but Oklahoma tight end Taylor McNamara believes the injury will benefit him in the long run.
“I think it was,” he said Monday after his first practice since suffering a season-ending torn labrum last September. “As much as I wanted to come in and be a star, I wasn’t ready. I was blessed to only play three games and still be able to get the redshirt and have four years left.”
Consider the spring McNamara’s do-over.
Just a year ago, he was a highly touted tight end from San Diego’s Westview High School who graduated a semester early with the potential of becoming the Sooners’ starting tight end as a freshman.
Technically, he was. McNamara lined up at the spot on OU’s first offensive snap against UTEP. However, he knew deep down he wasn’t physically ready for the job.
“When I weighed in right before UTEP I was only about 230 pounds,” he said. “I realized tight ends weigh about 250 and it’s hard to be physical when you’re less than that. That alone might have been a mental block in itself, but I wasn’t ready to be the in-line blocking tight end that I need to (be).”
McNamara only played in three games, making him eligible for the medical redshirt at the end of the season. The time away from the field allowed him to do the physical maturing that was desperately needed.
The critical 20 pounds he lacked last fall are there. McNamara, senior Brannon Green and redshirt freshman Sam Grant are trying to bring the tight end spot back to the forefront after becoming an afterthought in OU’s game plan last season.
“We have to get better, play physical and play tough and run routes like we know how to run them,” McNamara said. “If we do that, we’ll be good.”