Stills, Jefferson impress in Red-White spring game
Dropped passes were a common theme of last year’s games. Ryan Broyles was about the only consistent receiving threat on the team due to a relatively young, inexperienced and under-achieving corps of receivers.
But things are looking up this year with a more mature group of wide outs, including one of the team’s newest members; freshman Kenny Stills.
Stills graduated a semester early from La Costa Canyon High School is Carlsbad, Cali. The highly-touted receiver took the opportunity to enroll a semester early at OU to get a spring practice under his belt before taking the field for the Sooners’ 2010-11 football season.
California’s second-ranked wide receiver by Rivals.com showed he can make an impact his freshman year after reeling in six receptions for 84 yards and a touchdown.
“I definitely always expect big things from myself, so I went out there and made the best that I could,” Still said after the game. “I felt like if I were going to leave high school early, then I might as well put my best effort forward and work hard every day on the field.”
The young receiver is noted for his tremendous speed and athletic ability and can usually be found after practices practicing routes and catching extra passes. The transition from high school to college is a big one, and players are often caught off guard by the change of pace and the increased talent level.
“It’s a big step from high school to college, but it’s still football to me,” he said. “I’ve always been around football, you know my dad played in the league, and I’m comfortable wherever I am playing ball and that’s what it was for me.”
Stills did not make the leap from high school in California to college in Oklahoma alone. Chula Vista (Cali.) native Tony Jefferson accompanied Stills in his early enrollment at OU.
Jefferson had a strong showing in the spring game as well. The duo decided to room together upon arriving at OU in order to support each other in their new stage of life.
“Tony and I are real close and being roommates and being able to come back after practice and just talk to each other and just relate to things like missing home or missing mom or whatever and it’s just real cool to have somebody from where you’re from to relate to all the time,” Stills said.
Lucky for the two Californians, their hard work talent has not gone unnoticed by the coaching staff.
“They’re going to be really good players,” said head coach Bob Stoops. “Kenny is really comfortable out there at receiver and very natural. Tony as well made a bunch of good plays here through the spring. Those guys are sure to make some excellent progress in the short term.”
Both Stills and Jefferson found themselves between several schools as 2009 came to a close. Had it not been for the strong recruiting efforts of one OU-faithful, the Sooners may not have landed the talented twosome.
However, this recruiting ace was not a coach or a current OU player, an alumni or a loyal fan.
He was a 2010 recruit.
Running back Brennan Clay was the tenth commitment to Oklahoma of the class of 2010. After committing, the No. 2 running back in the nation did not wait long to start contributing to his future program.
Stories arose of how Clay was going out of his way to talk up the Sooners and help convince as many athletes as possible to give Norman a chance. He is said to be a great personality and a natural team leader on and off the field.
The 6-foot, 190-pounder was not able to graduate early like Jefferson and Stills did, but just as he did during the recruiting process, Clay remains on Stills and Jefferson daily, ever-awaiting the day when he arrives in Norman.
“Brennan is always on us with texts or Facebook messages or whatever,” said Stills. “It’s just nice to get to him and kind of relay to him what’s going on.”
“There’s nothing you can say to Brennan that’s going to get him down. He’s a happy kid, he’s always excited and he can’t wait to get here. Every day I get a text from Brennan and he’s like ‘hey man, how are you doing out there? I can’t wait to get out there’ or something like that.”
Until next season Stills, Jefferson and Clay will be hard at work. Few players have as much upside as the California-combo and even fewer have the bond they share at such an early stage in their young careers.
Stills and Jefferson will continue with spring practices for the rest of the semester. Come summertime, the trio will finally be united after a year-long trip to Norman that started all the way back in June of 2009 when Clay made his verbal commitment to the University of Oklahoma.