By John Shinn
Ryan Broyles was tired when he'd met a few reporters after Thursday's practice. He better get used to the work. Oklahoma's counting on a lot from the wide receiver.
He's about the only wide receiver still around from a group of wide receivers who caught 30 of Sam Bradford's 50 touchdown passes last season.
Juaquin Iglesias, Manny Johnson and Quentin Chaney are all working out in preparation for this month's NFL draft.
When it comes to wide receivers, Broyles, who had 44 receptions and six touchdowns last year as a redshirt freshman, is Bradford's only familiar target.
Receivers coach Jay Norvell would like to see the former Norman High standout's numbers skyrocket next season. But that means changes.
"Broyles' role has changed. He's got to be more consistent, more productive and he ain't coming off the field like he did last year," Norvell said.
Every player likes to hear a coach say something like that. Broyles, along with tight end Jermaine Gresham, are the two players the Sooners will try to build their passing attack around next season.
Gresham is used to the work load. Broyles, however, is getting a crash course.
"He (Norvell) said it's another thing to put in my tool kit, so playing inside and outside can go be a good thing," Broyles said. "I always want to be on the field."
Last season, he was used primarily in the slot. He went up against safeties and linebackers. His speed gave him an edge against both.
He's playing out wide this spring. There's more opportunities for big plays. He'll get matched in one-on-one matchups with cornerbacks for deep balls.
Bigger receivers traditionally thrive in that capacity. Bradford, however, has played enough with Broyles, who is generously listed at 5-foot-11 and 175 pounds, to believe he can break the mold.
"He's having to adjust, but I don't think most people understand how much speed he has," Bradford said. "He might not be big, but he gives us a downfield threat with the speed that he has."
And this spring, which has only a handful of practices left before the April 11 Red/White Game, is the time when Broyles will be molded into an every-down player.
Learning new formations and routes is part of it. But the biggest adjustment is something OU will have to wait until September to get a better feeling for.
Broyles is well aware of what it is.
"You have to be consistent all the time," he said. "When you're out there playing all the time, you have to produce."
John Shinn 366-3536 firstname.lastname@example.org