By John Shinn
The last three years haven’t exactly been what Adron Tennell envisioned when he came to Oklahoma.
The wide receiver enters his senior season with 16 catches and one touchdown in 35 career games. Even he admits to some disappointment.
“A little bit,” he said. “I feel like I could have been out there playing as a freshman and a sophomore. But, I just sat back and learned from the guys before me.”
The guys before him left huge shoes to fill. Malcolm Kelley, in 2006 and 2007, and Juaquin Iglesias and Manny Johnson were hard to surpass on the depth chart. They all became go-to receivers in the Sooner offense.
But they’re all gone and Tennell’s still here.
And there’s a void at wide receiver that must be filled.
Iglesias and Johnson combined for 25 touchdown catches last season. There’s no doubt OU will keep firing the ball all over the field this season. Quarterback Sam Bradford will have to find find a new favorite receiver.
Tennell seems like a logical choice. At 6-foot-4, 200 pounds with sprinter’s speed, he is the blueprint for a what a big-play receiver should look like.
Wide receivers coach Jay Norvell said Tennell is having the kind of preseason required to emerge as a pillar of OU’s offense. Each day a story is related about Tennell beating a defensive back deep for a big play or winning a battle for the ball.
“He’s a great a player. He’s a guy that brings the offense a lot of comfort,” teammate Ryan Broyles said. “He’s one of those guys who can go down the field and make catches.”
Then why hasn’t that ability amounted to more than 16 catches in three seasons?
There’s no doubt health has been an issue for Tennell. There’s been the typical nagging injuries, but a torn ACL late in the 2007 season affected him well into last season.
“That’s been a big part. Right now I’m 100 percent,” Tennell said. “When I was hurt I wasn’t really into the game. But, I’m back to normal right now with my game and my speed. I’m ready to go.”
That’s what Norvell has been dying to hear and hopes remains the same over the next five months.
“When he’s full throttle he’s pretty good,” the coach said. “He just needs to find a way to do that for 12 weeks and in a championship game and in another championship game. He just has to play as hard as he can, he has all the talent in the world.”
He’ll get his chance to show it this season. But Tennell said he has no major goals set for the season. He wants to keep things simple and take things on a day-to-day basis. There’s no point of adding any more pressure than what is already there.
But even after three disappointing seasons, the opportunity is still there for Tennell to live up to his vast potential.
“I think he would have liked to see things go differently but all you need is one great year and most people don’t get that,” Norvell said. “So, he just needs to pour all that frustration into this last season and make the most out of it.”