Marvin Mims enrolled at Oklahoma in time for its spring semester a year ago, angling to take advantage of OU’s offseason programs.
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic denied the 5-foot-11 receiver from Frisco, Texas, his opportunity to go through spring football practices, but his production as a true freshman never suggested he wasn’t ready to provide to the Sooner offense.
Mims’ athleticism helped him thrive in his first year, but his ability to bring down tough catches made him one of OU quarterback Spencer Rattler’s most reliable targets.
“He made the ones he was supposed to make, then he made several that were competitive balls,” OU coach Lincoln Riley said.
“That’s a lot of times what separates elite players. He was able to pick it up mentally and kept producing. We honestly probably should have played him a little bit more than we did.”
Perhaps Mims could have built more trust had he went through a proper spring camp.
Still, Mims didn’t let the pandemic, which kept OU away from on-campus workouts from mid-March to early July, affect his preparation.
“I was at a disadvantage, but so were the other guys coming in during the summer, because they missed so much time, too,” Mims said. “Basically, I was just staying on myself, making myself get up every day, do the extra stuff I needed to do and from the playbook, it was all just memorization, just mental.”
It helped he and Rattler built instant chemistry in OU’s fall camp, which carried over into the season.
Mims led OU’s receivers with 610 yards on 37 catches. He recorded nine touchdown receptions and averaged 16.5 yards per catch.
He also recorded OU’s longest catch of the season at 61 yards.
“There are a couple of guys you just click with better than others,” Rattler said. “Marvin was one of those that stood out to me when we started fall camp last year. Great player. Does his job on all occasions. Can do it all. Fast guy. He just comes to do his job and give it his all.
“He’s got a lot of work to do, just like we all do, but he’s doing good.”
• Spencer, the mentor: OU’s quarterback room features a pair of former five-star prospects between returning starter Spencer Rattler and early enrollee Caleb Williams.
Williams was Rivals.com’s top-ranked quarterback of the 2021 class and has adjusted well to OU’s practices so far.
“He’s got a good skill set, confident, talented player,” Rattler said. “He’s done a pretty good job up to now. Me being the older guy and trying to take him under my wing and teach him the ropes of everything and help him out through everything.”
Williams is likely to be Rattler’s primary backup after 2020 reserves Tanner Mordecai and Chandler Morris transferred to SMU and TCU, respectively, this offseason.
Williams is quickly building confidence, however, with his teammates.
“Caleb’s a great quarterback,” Mims said. “As highly touted as he was coming in, he’s living up to the expectations. He’s a great guy, fun guy to talk to, play around with. He’s doing everything we expect him to do and he’s going to keep growing. So, I’m really excited about him.”
• Defense wins: OU freshman Billy Bowman was one of Rivals.com’s top-rated athletes in the 2021 class.
The 5-foot-11 prospect from Denton, Texas, projected as both a receiver and defensive back, and his future currently leans more toward defense.
Bowman is listed as a defensive back on OU’s spring roster and has spent a majority of spring practice working in Alex Grinch’s scheme. But considering his speed, he might not be limited to just defensive coordinator.
“We’re going to start Billy out defensively and he’ll get the majority of his reps there,” Riley said. “We’ll also rep him in the return game and we’re gonna toy around with him potentially offensively some as well. So we’re just gonna see how it all unfolds.”
• Line assembly: OU’s offensive line will feature new faces at center and tackle this fall with Creed Humphrey and Adrian Ealy pursuing the NFL Draft this spring.
Riley said Chris Murray, Ian McIver, Robert Congel and Nate Anderson are receiving reps at center. Murray and Congel, both of whom transferred to OU from Pac-12 programs, would provide senior leadership to the position, as would McIver. Anderson is entering his redshirt freshman season.
At tackle, Tennessee transfer Wanya Morris is seeing time at tackle, along with Anton Harrison, Noah Nelson and Stacey Wilkins.
“It’s still early enough we’re working the majority of those guys at multiple positions,” Riley said. “… We’ve got a group of tackles we’re excited about and we’ll continue to see how it evolves.”