By JOHN SHINN
NORMAN — Becoming a focal point of Oklahoma’s offense requires an abundance of skills. Size, speed and coordination are all part of the requirements.
However, there’s one that ranks above all others.
“You have to be consistent,” co-offensive coordinator/receivers coach Jay Norvell said.
It’s the one trait genetics have nothing to do with. It takes good old-fashioned focus to add that final part of the equation.
Sophomore receiver Trey Metoyer admits it’s the one requirement he didn’t have last season, and all that goes into playing at a big-time college level caught him off guard.
“Last year was a learning process. I sat back and I watched,” he said. “Coming into this year, I’m just gonna go all out and do what I do best.”
Going into the 2012 season, Metoyer seemed to be OU’s likeliest candidate for a breakout star. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound receiver was coming off a year of military school in Hargrave, Va., but the skills he’d shown as a five-star recruit at Whitehorse (Texas) High School in 2010 had not diminished. It was obvious when he caught six passes for 72 yards in the 2012 Red/White Spring Game.
But it didn’t carry over to the season.
Metoyer started the first three games and experienced bits of success, catching 10 passes for 90 yards against UTEP, Florida A&M and Kansas Sate.
“For a minute last year in the middle of the season, I thought I knew. But I guess I wasn’t quite there,” Metoyer said.
Metoyer caught just seven more passes the rest of the season and did not have a single catch in the final three games.
For one, more reliable options emerged. Landing Justin Brown — a two-year starter at Penn State — several days into preseason practice provided the offense with a fully developed outside receiver. When the NCAA cleared Jalen Saunders midway through the season, suddenly OU had the slot receiver it desperately needed to replace Ryan Broyles. Saunders’ emergence also opened the door to moving Kenny Stills back to outside receiver.
By midseason, developing Metoyer wasn’t the priority it had been two months earlier.
This season, however, Stills and Brown are gone. They’ve left holes that Metoyer can fill, but only if he can add the one element his game lacked last season.
“He’s got to work a little bit harder as far as his consistency,” Norvell said. “Trey’s a great talent and he’s got to be more consistent, though. One of the things we’ve got to talk about is earning the right to be a starter and you’ve got to be an every-down player. You’ve got to be the guy that does it right every time and you’re the example to everybody else. If you’re not that guy, then you won’t be that guy.”
Metoyer desperately wants to be one of those guys. He’s become one at every level he’s played. Becoming one at OU means you have to practice and play at the same level on every snap in every practice throughout the spring and the season.
Getting there doesn’t require a monumental leap.
“Coach doesn’t ask for too much, because he knows what I’m capable of. He just tells me to get there. Work hard and keep working and that’s what I try to do,” Metoyer said. “Practice makes perfect, and that’s what he preaches to me all the time. I try to go to practice with a different mindset than I did last year. I’m trying to be more focused and trying to get better.”
Whatever strides Metoyer has made will be displayed when the Sooners conduct the 2013 Red/White Spring Game on April 13 at Owen Field.
Last season, Metoyer showed his physical skills in the spring finale. This spring has been about showing what he can do on every snap.
“The more you practice, the more you get better. We talk about it, we sleep it, breathe it and go through it every day,” he said. “I have no choice but to get more consistent or try to.”