Jaz Reynolds proves to be in rhythm after waiting for return to field
Kingsley Burns, The Oklahoma Daily
A good indication a Sooner player has “arrived” is when he is commonly known to OU fans by one name.
Landry. Broyles. Dom. Stills. Sam.
In OU’s 38-28 shootout against Missouri on Saturday night at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, another player made a case for joining his peers: Jaz.
Sophomore wide receiver Jaz Reynolds had an explosive game against the Tigers, catching five passes for 93 yards. It was the first time he’d been in the spotlight in almost a year and a half.
Jaz had 13 receptions for 256 yards as a freshman in 2009, but he was suspended last year for an insulting post on Twitter and was forced to redshirt.
“It was embarrassing,” he said. “It was a humbling experience. It taught me to grow up and work harder just to get everything back that I worked for my freshman year.”
Since that moment, Jaz said he’s been working to get back under the bright lights. After he didn’t see significant time on the field in OU’s first two games this season, he said he started to get down on himself.
But he got some sound advice that helped him wait.
“My parents told me, ‘Just be patient. Good things come to people who wait.’ I finally got my chance,” he said.
His chance became a possibility when sophomore wide receiver Trey Franks was suspended indefinitely last week for violating team rules.
His chance became a real opportunity when team doctors discovered sophomore wide receiver Kenny Stills had sustained a mild concussion against Florida State last week and was not cleared to play against Missouri.
With two receivers scratched from the depth chart, OU coach Bob Stoops talked to Jaz.
“When coach called me Thursday and told me I was going to get to start, I got chills,” he said.
The excitement he had to get back out there was balanced by the fear he’d do something to lose it again, he said.
“First game back in a long time — (are) fans going to accept me? If I mess up, will they boo me?” he said. “I finally got my moment to shine, but I had to capitalize on it. I couldn’t let it slip through my hands or else I’d never be back on the field.”
Junior quarterback Landry Jones said Jaz had been ready for a long time.
“He just wanted to play,” Jones said. “He’s been biting his nails just to get in there and play a little bit. I think tonight he proved he can step up and be a really good receiver on our team.”
Co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said Jaz spent a lot of time working toward getting back, even when nobody was watching him.
“It’s good to see him get that opportunity and then perform the way he did,” Heupel said. “It’s a credit to guys staying the course, working hard every single day and believing that their opportunity’s coming.”
Heupel said players can’t just sit on their hands waiting for a chance to get in, and he said Jaz’s success was because he didn’t just stand around waiting.
“Preparing for that opportunity is the key,” Heupel said. “If you wait until that opportunity comes, you’re going to be in trouble.”
Jaz said he never took his skill for granted by assuming he was good enough to bide his time until he took the field again. He made sure he was ready whenever the opportunity arose.
“I’ve been ready for it and been preparing for it every day, just helping Kenny (Stills) and Ryan (Broyles) prepare for the games,” he said. “This week, it was my time to get prepared.”
For most receivers, the game he had against the Tigers would be plenty as the first game back in almost a year and half, but not for Jaz.
“I’m kind of upset I didn’t get 100 yards,” he said. “There were a couple of passes — one pass was right behind me, and I got a hand on it, and it would have been my 100 yards.”
Hitting the century mark or not, Jaz said he’s confident his first big contribution on the field this year will not be his last, and he has lofty goals.
“I’m going to have a couple of 100-yard games,” he said. “All you have to do is toss it up there for me.”