CeeDee Lamb wasn’t far from where the incident happened, but close enough he could turn his once-injured left shoulder to see that tuft of grass and recount the scene.
Against Iowa State last October, the Oklahoma freshman receiver lunged at the end-zone pylon in Owen Field’s southeast corner and found his back on the turf, where he awaited the official’s touchdown signal.
“He said I scored,” Lamb said, “and I tried to push myself up, but I couldn’t get up.”
OU fullback Dimitri Flowers tried igniting a celebration.
“Nah, bro,” Lamb said. “I can’t.”
Lamb entered the Sooners’ first spring practice Saturday with a new jersey and, in many ways, a new body.
Noticeably more stout through his arms and shoulders, Lamb, who is wearing the No. 2 instead of his old No. 9, says he packed on nearly 30 pounds during his first collegiate offseason. He was listed at 173 pounds last August and weighs 203 pounds now, “on a good day.”
And the shoulder injury is just a memory.
Lamb wanted to prove he was tough enough to play through the nicks and bruises college players incur, but admits now he was never 100 percent during the nine games after Iowa State.
“It was real tough, because I wasn’t used to it. In high school, we played shorter weeks than we did in college, and I didn’t take as many beatings, I guess. It was a learning experience,” Lamb said.
That setback might have been the only thing that kept the Richmond, Texas, native from making an even bigger impact than he did. He played in all 14 games and missed just one start, becoming OU’s all-time freshman leader with 807 receiving yards and tying the school’s freshman record with seven touchdown catches.
Much of this spring’s focus is on which OU quarterback will throw to what’s left of the receiving corps that tallied a nation-best 5,065 yards a year ago — Kyler Murray and Austin Kendall are vying for the starting job — but there’s little doubt which pass catchers will demand attention.
Marquise Brown is back after a breakout year with 1,095 yards, and Lamb has set the bar for what he hopes is a monster sophomore campaign. He entrenched himself so deeply at wideout that he won’t factor into the Sooners’ search for inside receivers, as injured Nick Basquine (Achilles’ heel) and Mykel Jones (shoulder) miss the spring with injuries.
“We may move some guys around a little bit more this spring, more than we would have because of that,” OU coach Lincoln Riley said. “We know CeeDee is probably gonna stay where he is.”
Lamb still possesses the signature neck-length, blonde-tinged twisted hair and flashy white smile. But the changes his build underwent figure to go a long way.
He put a heavy focus on strengthening his lower body.
“So I could run through arm tackles,” Lamb said. “It happened a lot of times last year, where I felt like I could just run through them, but I didn’t have enough leg strength. That’s been a major part of my [workouts], getting my legs right.”
Even on the lighter side, he provided a physical presence as a freshman, administering effective blocks at receiver while also working as a punt returner. Safeguarding himself became a priority.
Now, all the weight he tried to put on in high school, but never could, he said, has finally stuck to him.
“I’ve gained 10 or 11 more pounds of muscle, so there’s more [security] for my shoulders and my bones,” Lamb said. “I just feel like now if I had that fall, I wouldn’t get hurt.”
The CeeDee Lamb File
Freshman season (2017)
Games played: 14
Games started: 13
* OU freshman record
* Tied OU freshman record