ESPN compares Oklahoma freshmen to a pair of Sooner legends

ESPN compares Oklahoma freshmen to a pair of Sooner legends

With plenty of 2023 signees taking part in their first spring practices, it signals the end of their high school careers and the first step as collegiate players.

Expectations are high, and many players use this time to adapt to their new homes and carve out roles on their new teams. This time allows teams to get a deeper understanding of who the players are.

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As the Sooners integrate members of their 2023 signing class, ESPN issued comparisons for 10 of the top prospects in the ESPN 300. For the Sooners, they identified pretty significant comparisons for Jackson Arnold and Ryan Broyles.

Quarterback Jackson Arnold enters Oklahoma with a ton of hype. He’s yet to take a meaningful snap, but Craig Haubert and Tom Luginbill of ESPN believe he most compares to Heisman winner and Sooner favorite Baker Mayfield (ESPN+).

Mayfield completed a stellar career at Oklahoma after originally walking on at Texas Tech. During his time as a Sooner, he threw for a whopping 12,292 yards and 119 touchdowns, won the 2017 Heisman and averaged a staggering 11.5 yards per pass attempt. He was the very definition of swagger and moxie, and he had the arm to back it up.

Arnold is like Mayfield not only in stature (6-foot-1, 195 pounds), but also in style. He’s confident, poised and intellectual. At Denton Guyer High School (Texas), he ran essentially the same offensive system that he will be in at Oklahoma under Jeff Lebby, which has many similarities to Lincoln Riley’s scheme when tutoring Mayfield. The 2022-23 Gatorade Player of the Year should face a seamless transition at the next level. – ESPN

The expectation for Arnold is he will usurp Davis Beville as the backup QB by season’s end. While Arnold is “at the back of the line” on the depth chart, spring and summer should allow him to leapfrog Beville and give the Sooners a high-ceiling backup who will have the keys to the offense in 2024. Baker waited his turn and blossomed during his time in Norman.

One of Arnold’s incoming classmates will give him a weapon to throw to during his Oklahoma career. Four-star wide receiver Jaquaize Pettaway will not join the Sooners until the summer, but the OU coaching staff will be very happy when he does. The folks over at ESPN believe he most closely resembles the Sooners’ all-time leading receiver, Ryan Broyles.

There were faster players in college football than Broyles during his Oklahoma tenure, but very few were as productive. He finished as Oklahoma’s all-time career leader in receptions (349) and scored 45 touchdowns. The ultimate slot receiver from 2008 to 2011, Broyles was one of the best route runners in recent college football memory and was a second-round draft choice by the Detroit Lions in 2012. Pettaway may be faster (10.4 100-meter) than Broyles, and his scheme versatility and route-running precision is very similar.

His ability to navigate coverage from the slot, be featured on bubble screens and jet sweeps, and win one-on-one matchups in man coverage are all strengths. Like Broyles, Pettaway knows how to get open and make plays. He could follow in his footsteps and develop into a dangerous return man for the Sooners, as well.

Oklahoma’s receiving corps ranked 48th in receiving yards and 68th in receptions per target in 2022, and with Marvin Mims Jr. entering the draft, the Sooners don’t have a strong receiving corps returning. This could provide a great opportunity for Pettaway to break in early and use his speed to develop into a go-to player who is also a feared return specialist. Plus, he is coming in early with QB Jackson Arnold, with whom he has also developed a rapport, which was on display in Under Armour All-America Game. – ESPN

Pettaway has a role with the Oklahoma Sooners as soon as he gets on campus. He’s instantly the fastest in the receiver room and quite possibly the entire team.

His route running and ability to get open will be appreciated by Dillon Gabriel in 2023 and Jackson Arnold in the years to come. It’ll be tough to approach Ryan Broyles’ Oklahoma records unless he starts as a true freshman. Being spoken in the same breath as Ryan Broyles puts him in elite company.

Once on campus, Jaquaize Pettaway will be a welcomed addition to Jeff Lebby’s offense.

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