In a world where everyone can’t wait to see the next big thing, Marvin Mims is already an old guy.
Sooner Nation knows Mims. It only took one football season, but Mims is a sophomore now, a known quantity.
Who the fans want to see now is Mario Williams.
That’s no slight to Mims — or Theo Wease or Jadon Haselwood or any of Oklahoma’s receiver corps. It’s just the nature of college football recruiting, especially at a place like OU, and especially when it’s the receiver position.
Williams “has certainly got some burst and some ability,” said head coach Lincoln Riley. “I think everybody can see that.”
“He’s got a chance to have an impact,” said inside receivers coach Cale Gundy. “Very fast. One of the fastest players on our side of the ball. He loves to compete. He loves to practice. He loves to play ball. He’s a good player.”
Now, how much will Williams contribute as a true freshman? Well, Mims was the best receiver on the team during his freshman year in 2020, catching 37 passes and scoring nine touchdowns. The way this thing seems to work, Williams figures to be next, right?
Then again, there’s the cautionary tale of 2019, when Wease, Haselwood and Trejan Bridges were all 5-star freshmen and combined for just 34 catches and five touchdowns.
Oklahoma Two-Deep Previews
Yeah, college football is harder than Mims made it look last year.
“He’s one of those guys that kind of falls into line with how hard he works,” Gundy said of Mims. “He’s extremely intelligent. He’s somebody that you have to tell him something one time. You tell him one time in the meeting room and you’d better be right because he’s going to do it that way every single time.
“He brought up the level of competition. That’s what we have to have. The better he is, the better the next guy is.”
Wease and Haselwood should emerge as older, more experienced leaders of the group this year as well. Wease also caught 37 balls last year, but also had some crucial drops. Haselwood got back late in the season after a spring knee injury. Both have been through some things and should come out the other side stronger for it.
And Drake Stoops — fresh off getting his scholarship after the spring game — isn’t just popular with the fans, he’s well-liked and respected among his teammates. Stoops now has 25 career receptions and two touchdowns.
Two other freshmen will be fun to watch in the coming years: Jalil Farooq is just now getting to OU, while Cody Jackson enrolled in January. Jackson is more known for his speed, while Farooq lends versatility. Don’t expect too much from them in 2021, but they’ll play because they’re so advanced — especially for freshmen.
Numbers-wise, the OU receiver corps took some hits this offseason. Charleston Rambo transferred to Miami, and Obi Obialo and Theo Howard stepped away as well.
But the Sooners also added through the portal as Arkansas senior Mike Woods transferred in. Woods caught 32 passes for 619 yards and career-high five touchdowns, last season, and led the Razorbacks in 2019 with 33 catches (for 423 yards) and four TDs. As a freshman, he caught 18 passes for 206 yards and a score. Woods is a proven commodity and is ready to break into the lineup on Day 1.
Still, there’s no denying everyone is antsy to see what Williams can do. The 5-foot-10, 165-pound SI All-American showed in the Sooners’ annual Red/White Game that he’s not afraid of the college football spotlight.
“He’s got some growth to do,” said quarterback Spencer Rattler, “but he’s going to get off the ball, he’s going to get open and catch the ball down the field. That’s what we’ll use him for. He’ll be a good player for our offense as well.”
“He’s fast,” Haselwood said. “Athletic.”
“Mario can do it all,” said safety Delarrin Turner-Yell, “from outside receiver to inside receiver.”
Gundy said Williams is one of those guys that just doesn’t get overthrown — even by Rattler’s titanic arm.
“For a young man who still should be in high school right now, he’s awfully impressive out there,” Gundy said. “… He comes out there every day and loves to compete. He always has a smile on his face. He loves football. He loves competition, he loves football and I’m glad he’s here with us.”