Sooner receiver emerges as reliable target
Merrill Jones, The Oklahoma Daily
Fans wrote him off. Coaches had him in their dog houses.
But following a slow start, senior wide receiver Adron Tennell has emerged as a reliable option in a receiving corps that has been the subject of criticism this season.
Tennell does not have spectacular stats through seven games, and for the first half of the season he was not in good favor with wide receiver coach Jay Norvell. He has caught 13 passes for 145 yards with two touchdowns, but his play during games five through seven is night and day compared to games one through four.
“He’s certainly able to play at a high level,” Norvell said. “A lot of that is just confidence and relaxing and letting the game come to you.”
That confidence has resulted in Tennell catching every pass that has been within reach during the past three games, which is something that can be said by only one other receiver, sophomore Ryan Broyles.
In those games, Tennell has caught 10 passes for 96 yards and is just one of two receivers who have caught at least one touchdown pass.
“It’s been pleasing to see him make some plays that we know he’s capable of making,” head coach Bob Stoops said. “It was exciting to see him do that [Saturday] and make some big plays for us.”
Offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson attributes Tennell’s recent success to both his game against Baylor and the fact that he has been more relaxed on the field.
“He’s made a few plays in games that have settled him down,” Wilson said. “He’s maybe not pressing, not worrying. I don’t know if he’s really improved or been different in his practice habits, but just transferring it to Saturday and having a little confidence in himself.”
When Tennell has not been catching passes, he has been a productive blocker in the run game.
On multiple run plays throughout the season he has driven his defender back, opened lanes and sealed off corners for the running backs to run through.
Though Tennell is experiencing a rise, junior wide receiver Cameron Kenney is seeing a decline. During OU’s previous three games, Kenney has dropped numerous passes and was essentially benched during the second halves against Baylor and Kansas.
Because Kenney has been benched due to drops in those two games, Tennell has been allowed to be a part of the offensive game plan as more than just a blocking receiver. In those two halves, Tennell has caught eight passes for 76 yards with two touchdowns.
Normally a stretch of three good games is nothing to brag about, but with the way Tennell’s season started, both he and those keeping an eye on him should be pleased with his recent production.
“I was really proud of Adron to come out here and play the way that he did,” redshirt freshman quarterback Landry Jones said.