NORMAN — Theo Wease and Trejan Bridges ran matching routes from opposite ends of the line of scrimmage, but Wease was more fortunate to work with an open field.
Wease used that leverage, breaking easily in front of his defender for a 13-yard touchdown catch — his second score in Oklahoma’s Red-White spring football game.
He met Bridges near the goal post for a chest bump.
It was an unofficial coming out party for the pair, ahead of a season when the Sooners are overflowing with freshmen receiver talent. Wease, Bridges and Jadon Haselwood have strengthened OU’s depth with three former five-star prospects.
Haselwood nursed a minor ankle injury in the spring and caught two passes in OU’s public scrimmage, which launched expectations around Wease and Bridges as they combined for six catches and 144 yards receiving.
“There have been some moments,” OU receiver coach Dennis Simmons said of the group, “where you're like, 'Ohh, really? Yeah he's pretty, pretty darn good.’”
Getting each receiver enough targets for big statistical production might be difficult. But collectively, especially with Marquise Brown’s departure to the NFL, the group figures be a breakout weapon in Lincoln Riley’s offense.
It’s possible one of them could shine the way CeeDee Lamb did his freshman season. He set a school record with 807 receiving yards and has developed into an early 2019-20 Biletnikoff Award favorite.
“Them boys are very talented. They can go. All three of them,” Lamb said in the spring. “They adapt quickly. This is a hard offense to get into, but I feel like with all the thinking they've done, they've put in some extra work to learn quicker. They come in for extra time to ask me for help. They wanna win. They wanna learn.”
OU already had a rich freshmen receiving corps in place, but Haselwood’s commitment Jan. 5 during the All-American Bowl in San Antonio put it over the top. He was the Rivals.com’s No. 4 overall prospect from the 2019 class. Wease was ranked No. 3 and Bridges No. 21.
They’ve responded well to hard coaching, according to Simmons.
“Everybody makes this big thing about how they're five-star receivers,” Simmons said. “I mean the biggest thing about those guys is that they're great kids. That was our whole take on all of those guys.
“We can go get talented players. I mean hell, they've been getting talented players at the University of Oklahoma since they've been playing football. But to get kids with that caliber of talent that are the character that they have, that to me is what separates those guys … They want to be good at their craft and they want to be around somebody that's going to hold them accountable and make sure that at the end of the day that they accomplish their goals.”
Wease (6-3, 201 pounds), Haselwood (6-2, 206) and Bridges (6-2, 170) are physically advanced enough to contribute immediately, which is another one of the group’s rare aspects. Riley also included freshman tight end Austin Stogner (6-6, 237) in that category.
“It is unique. Physically, all of them are good enough to play and be able to help you soon. We thought they would be and they are,” Riley said. “Mentally, how do they continue to prepare? How do they handle their bodies. How do they handle all the transitions? There’s still a lot of question marks out there on these guys. But there’s no doubt the capability is there. You like what we’ve seen from them thus far. If they can improve at a steady rate, they can be a special quartet of guys there.”
Editor’s note: This is the sixth of a 10-part series on potential breakout OU football players for 2019-2020. Next: Sophomore H-back Brayden Willis, July 1.