The Norman Transcript

Sports

April 18, 2013

Sooners want to work tight ends back into game plan

(Continued)

NORMAN —

The Sooners will have a new starting quarterback this season. Blake Bell has played in a lot of games, but he’s never played in a situation where he had to make reads and check off to outlet receivers.

Tight ends tend to become young quarterbacks’ security blankets. In 2001 and 2002, Trent Smith was OU’s leading receiver as OU broke in Jason White and Nate Hybl. Sam Bradford quickly formed a connection with Jermaine Gresham in 2007.

Heupel wants the same for Bell, Kendal Thompson or Trevor Knight.

However, the tight ends must elevate their play to make it possible.

Green, who was a junior college transfer last season, showed improvement in the spring. It would be hard to regress after only catching three passes last season. Taylor McNamara and Sam Grant are coming out of redshirt seasons.

Heupel has confidence the position can be a larger part of the offense, but he’ll need to see improvement when OU returns to the practice field in early August.

“We have an idea of what we can and can’t do. That’s not a final grade on any one of those guys,” he said. “We’ll look and see what happens in June, July and then early in fall camp. Whoever we feel has earned the right to play and play at a high level will be the guys that we play with.”

If they don’t, OU will adjust and put something together, but it’s not ideal. A quarterback transition gets a lot smoother with reliable tight ends.

John Shinn

Follow me @john_shinn

jshinn@normantranscript.com

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