Oklahoma freshman Jalil Farooq told everyone he wasn’t much on virtual learning.
The wide receiver from Maryland prefers hands-on learning to streaming videos and online instruction, but he’s been largely idle for much of the last 12 months.
And because of all that down time, Sooners coach Lincoln Riley said Farooq had “a ton” of rust to knock off when he entered this year’s training camp.
“Honestly,” Riley said, “he had a tough summer.”
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Maryland didn’t play high school football in the fall, and Farooq’s Wise High School didn’t play in the spring.
“Then he played in an all-star game right before he came up here,” Riley said, “and had a pretty substantial hamstring injury coming in here. So he was limited.”
The 6-foot-1, 203-pound Farooq was a preseason All-State selection going into his senior year. He also was tabbed for the All-American Bowl.
Farooq told SI Sooners at last summer’s Sooner Summit that he was struggling with the virtual side of learning. He said finally taking an unofficial visit to Norman last year and meeting some of his future teammates was “a good experience.”
“The COVID was messing me up a lot,” he said. “It was making me a Zoom watcher, and I’m not really a virtual learner. I like to be there in person.”
Now that he’s had two months in Norman plus two weeks of training camp, Farooq’s life is getting closer to normal.
“It was a tough summer for him,” Riley said. “It was good for him, he needed it. But wasn’t in shape. Wasn’t healthy. He was one of the guys in the class we had never met until the day he got here. So he had a lot of stuff working against him.
“But I give the kid a lot of credit. He’s done a nice job this camp. He’s gotten himself in shape. He’s a playmaker with the ball in his hands. He’s made a lot of big plays so far in camp. Still learning a lot, still in early stages. But there’s a lot to like. Lot of bright spots. He’s a guy you could potentially see — obviously, as his career goes on, but even within this season — he’s going to get better and better.”
Farooq might want to get in the receiver rotation right away, but there’s no hurry. Marvin Mims and Theo Wease led the Sooners in receptions last year and are both healthy for 2021. Jadon Haselwood is a former 5-star recruit who finally seems poised to break out. Mario Williams is a 5-star freshman who figures to contribute this season. Drake Stoops got his scholarship and is a returning starter. Mike Woods is a big-time transfer from Arkansas. Cody Jackson is another promising freshman.
Farooq said last summer during the shutdown that he needed to “adjust to (pandemic life) as best I can. There’s nothing I can do. It’s definitely a struggle.”
But now that he’s in Norman, he has plenty of time to fine-tune his game.
“The longer it goes on, the more he settles in, he’ll have a real chance to contribute,” Riley said. “Because, especially for a guy we never saw in person, you’re kind of saying, ‘What’s this guy going to be like walking in the door?’ But we’ve been excited about what we’ve seen so far in camp.”