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Oklahoma Freshmen: Getting a Jump on College Football — TE Kaden Helms

It's a bit of a mystery trying to figure out how new OC Jeff Lebby will feature tight ends, but he did exactly that at Ole Miss, with Joe Jon Finley as his tight end coach.
Kaden Helms

Kaden Helms

Editor’s Note: Oklahoma welcomes 17 freshmen (so far) in the 2022 recruiting class. This is Part 5 of a 10-part series introducing Oklahoma’s early enrollees in the 2022 recruiting class.

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TE Kaden Helms

6-5, 222

West HS, Bellevue, NE

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247 Sports: 4-star, No. 327 overall, No. 15 TE

Rivals: 4-star, no overall ranking, No. 16 TE

Background: Helms emerged in 7-on-7 camps as a wildly athletic prospect (No. 3 overall from the state of Nebraska, per 247 Sports), and backed that up with a senior year blowup: 51 catches, 944 yards, 18.5 yards per catch, 11 touchdowns. In his four seasons at West, Helms caught 96 passes for 1,520 yards and 18 scores. His first offer came in 2019 from one of college football’s TEU’s: Iowa State. Nebraska offered him the following summer, and soon after, Iowa (another TEU) offered. Oklahoma offered in January 2021, and the promise of playing in Lincoln Riley’s offense was appealing. As offers poured in from around the country, Helms committed to the Sooners last July, then held firm to his OU pledge after Riley bolted for USC. He signed with the Sooners last month over offers from Miami, North Carolina, Arizona State, Auburn, Wisconsin, LSU, Tennessee, Oklahoma State, TCU, Michigan, Michigan State, Florida State and others.

2022 Projection: New offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby doesn’t have a long history of featuring the tight end in the passing game. He didn’t under Josh Heupel at UCF, but he did at Ole Miss under Lane Kiffin. Kenny Yeboah caught 27 passes for 524 yards and six touchdowns for the Rebels in 2020 — and his position coach was Joe Jon Finley. Now with Finley and Lebby reunited at their alma mater, senior Brayden Willis will get the most reps in 2022, and third-year sophomore Jackson Sumlin will get an opportunity. But when it comes to throwing the football, Helms is the next great option. He’s a physical mismatch, catching the football in traffic at 6-5, 222, and beating linebackers and safeties in coverage with his speed and agility. Fellow incoming freshman Jason Llewellyn might get more reps as an inline blocker (he can also get downfield as a receiver), so the future of the position has arrived. Now it all depends on how much Lebby features the tight end in his offense at OU.

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Meet Oklahoma's 2022 Early Enrolees

  • Sunday, Jan. 23: WR Nicholas Anderson
  • Monday, Jan. 24: RB Jovantae Barnes
  • Tuesday, Jan. 25: QB Nick Evers
  • Wednesday, Jan. 26: WR Jayden Gibson
  • Thursday, Jan. 27: TE KADEN HELMS
  • Friday, Jan. 28: LB Jaren Kanak
  • Saturday, Jan. 29: LB Kip Lewis
  • Sunday, Jan. 30: TE Jason Llewellyn
  • Monday, Jan. 31: LB Kobie McKinzie
  • Tuesday, Feb. 1: DB Robert Spears-Jennings