Oklahom has made a point of playing more receivers in the past month than it has all season. Fresh legs will yield better results, the Sooners say.
Still, transfer Jalen Saunders has joined Justin Brown as another huge addition to Oklahoma's offense that the Sooners inexperienced receiving corps didn't believe it would have only a few months ago.
Saunders showed up to Oklahoma after going through a year under a new coaching staff at Fresno State, where he caught 50 passes for 1,065 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2011. Saunders was originally expected to sit out the 2012 season because of NCAA transfer rules, but made an immediate impact after being ruled eligible a little less than a month ago.
He caught a pair of passes for 54 yards against Texas, then broke out in a big way against Notre Dame, etching his name in the Sooners record books in the losing effort.
"Well, I knew he’d make a great contribution," coach Bob Stoops said. "He’s really a great young man at how hard he works -- he’s really bright, he picks things up in meetings immediately and he’s a guy who has experience so he’s quick and has a great feel for playing in that slot position."
Saunders caught eight passes in the first quarter, more in a single quarter than any player who'd ever put on a Sooner uniform.
By game's end, he'd caught 15 balls for 181 yards, tying another big-name Sooner for the single-game school record in receptions: Ryan Broyles.
In just four games, Saunders has 24 catches for 323 yards and has found a place in a crowded, otherwise-inexperienced Sooners receiving corps trying to develop connections with Landry Jones in his senior year.
"It keeps getting better and better the more he’s on the field with him," Stoops said of Saunders' chemistry with Jones.