OU's Lamb tries to stay hungry, humble ahead of sophomore campaign

Oklahoma receiver CeeDee Lamb speaks with the reporters July 22 during media day at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Lamb is poised for a big sophomore season after starting 13 games as a freshman. (Kyle Phillips / The Transcript)

CeeDee Lamb has set the bar high for his second season at Oklahoma.

"I just want to win the Biletnikoff (nation's top receiver award) as a sophomore and for people to give us respect,'' Lamb said.

Lamb has numbers to back up those goals.

He was named a freshman All-American by ESPN last season after catching 46 passes for 807 yards and seven touchdowns. The receiving yards were the most by an OU freshman and the seven TDs tied a school mark.

"I did a lot better than I thought I would,'' Lamb said. "I felt like I was successful because I was humble and I was hungry. I didn't worry about what people thought of me. I just played my game.''

His hunger remains.

Lamb has three other goals — produce at least least 1,000 yards in receptions, 12 touchdowns and win a national championship.

"I feel great about the season,'' Lamb said. "I'm so pumped. All the guys have come in and played with a chip on their shoulder. We just have so much to prove.''

The Sooners are a strong favorite to repeat in the Big 12 and return to the CFP where they hope to redeem themselves after a 54-48 overtime loss to Georgia in the Rose Bowl.

Mayfield's ghost still hovers over the Sooners. The receiving corps — a major question a year ago — is now a proven commodity. The quarterback is not with Kyler Murray and Austin Kendall, Baker Mayfield's backups the past two seasons, competing for the job.

"Just because we lost Baker doesn't mean that we lost ourselves,'' Lamb said. "It's crazy how people feel. One person can dictate a team. Baker was a great quarterback and a legend. People do have to move on. We have Kyler and Austin Kendall, who Baker has taught. To me it's like he's still here.''

Mayfield had an impact of Lamb, which carries over to this season. But Lamb doesn't see having to make adjustments for Mayfield's loss.

"It's just the receivers doing their jobs and trying to get better,'' he said. "I don't think there's any difference between Kyler and Austin. I feel like they are both very talented.''

With noticeable muscle added to his 6-foot-2 frame, Lamb says he’s more confident now. Only, even while dealing with a nagging shoulder injury incurred in October against Iowa State, he rarely looked uncomfortable last year, becoming only the third true freshman in program history to start at wide receiver in the season opener.

Lamb and junior receiver Marquise Brown, who caught 57 passes for 1,095 yards and seven touchdowns in 2017, have formed a powerful tandem. 

"He pushes me and I push him," Lamb said. "If I have a bad day, he will talk to me. If he has a bad day, I will talk with him ... we tell each other I need you." 

A Houston-area native, Lamb wears a chain with No. 32 to remember his late uncle, Chester Ramirez, who played at the University of Kansas.

"He taught me everything that I would need to know about the game,'' Lamb said. "He got drafted, but didn't make it out of mini camp because of injuries. I really miss him.''

Another example of Lamb cherishing his roots is the reason for changing his jersey number this year from No. 9 to No. 2.

"That's the number I had all through Little League to high school,'' he said. "When I was told I had chance to change my number from No. 9 to No. 2 (worn by graduate transfer Jeff Badet last season), I jumped at it. 

"I can go back to the my old ways as a kid. It brings back a lot of memories.''

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