Did Oklahoma Just Offer the Nation's Best High School Freshman Wideout?
John. E. Hoover
When Jaden Greathouse sees the wide receiver heritage at Oklahoma, he can’t help but daydream a bit.
From Dede Westbrook winning the Biletnikoff Award to Marquise Brown averaging almost 20 yards per catch to CeeDee Lamb emerging as one of the best receivers in the 2020 NFL Draft, Greathouse wonders if that’s a level he can attain when he gets to college.
“That’s definitely something that I think about all the time,” Greathouse told SI Sooners on Friday. “Like, all the receivers they have that have been so good. Like, ‘What if that’s me in the next four years?’ “
Greathouse, of course, will have to be patient.
He’s only a high school freshman.
He’s 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, and he caught 47 passes for 715 yards and 10 touchdowns last season for Texas Class 6A DII state champion Austin Westlake — but he’s still only a freshman.
A MaxPreps Freshman All-American, but still. …
“He checks all the boxes,” Westlake coach Todd Dodge told SI Sooners. “He literally is the perfect dynamic to start in 6A football in the state of Texas as a freshman. He’s got the size, he’s got the maturity, he’s got the work ethic. The stage didn’t faze him.”
Oklahoma offered Greathouse a scholarship on Tuesday. The Sooners came right behind an offer from Baylor, and a day after OU offered, his hometown Longhorns came through with an offer.
That’s three of the preeminent programs in the Big 12 Conference offering a high school freshman a football scholarship. As of right now, those are his only three offers, but that will change soon.
Greathouse said he was talking with OU assistant coach Shane Beamer and Beamer made him a scholarship offer during the conversation. The next day, Greathouse said he FaceTimed with Beamer and Sooners head coach Lincoln Riley.
“He told me about how excited he was for me for the offer,” Greathouse said, “and we just talked about football and stuff.”
Greathouse, who also plays basketball, hasn’t been to Oklahoma on an unofficial visit yet, but he’d like to go. He’s very interested in the Sooners — particularly in Riley’s offense, and the prodigious line of wide receivers OU continues to produce.
“It’s very impressive that they can put up those high numbers on the scoreboard like they did,” Greathouse said.
Greathouse said his mother, a science teacher and basketball coach in the Westlake middle school district, played college basketball at Cal Santa Barbara and is tall — 6-foot-1 or so. He said his father played high school baseball and is also tall — about 6-4.
“They’re both very tall and athletic,” Greathouse said, “so I got good genes for that.”
Dodge said he told Greathouse last preseason that he would not be with the freshman team, but would instead work with the varsity. Dodge said there’s no reason to bring a freshman up to varsity unless he’s a starter, and less than two weeks into training camp, it was clear that Greathouse was a starter.
He started all 16 games.
Dodge, a former Texas Longhorns quarterback who became head coach at North Texas and also was an assistant at the University of Pittsburgh, said Greathouse is the first freshman he’s had in 34 years of high school coaching to start on the varsity. He said he believes Greathouse is also the first freshman to start for Westlake’s varsity.
“Obviously if you’ve got one that’s got that kind of ability, you’re gonna go all in with him,” Dodge said, “and that’s what I did with Jaden.”
Greathouse said Dodge is “amazing, the amount of trust he has in his players, just to let us play. Not to make anything too complicated, just let us play to our strengths and go at it with a bunch of passion and physicality.
“He tells us all the time what our biggest fear should be, when we’re watching film, is our teammates seeing us play soft. So he always puts an emphasis on playing physical.”
Greathouse’s position coach, Kirk Rogers, is “just a guy who’s all about focus. You know, not too many balls are hitting the ground in practices. Routes and blocking and all that stuff is a big emphasis in practice, and they’re always making sure we do it perfect.”
Greathouse has taken to that coaching despite his youth.
“He was really productive — and not only in the catch game,” Dodge said. “I mean he was (47) catches for 10 touchdowns, bu the also was just physical on the perimeter, his blocking on the perimeter, all our passing game, the shorts and the bubbles and stuff like that.”
Last season, Greathouse caught at least one pass in every game. He had one game of 112 receiving yards and another of 95, but his production mostly stayed consistent all season.
“So now we go into the 2020 season and he’s the leader of our wide receiver room — and he’s a sophomore in high school,” Dodge said. “And I don’t blink at that one bit.”
Dodge said the plan as Greathouse continues to fill out is to experiment with I’m at different spots on the field. That includes a hybrid tight end/wide receiver position where he can draw mismatches in the center of the field, although Dodge said he still anticipates playing him on the perimeter quite a bit, too.
“He is a lot of fun to scheme with,” Dodge said. “ … Just as tough and mature as you could imagine.
“Just his strength and his body control, his jumping ability, his length, you know, catching balls in tight windows, catching contested footballs, that’s where he’s at his best.”
While Greathouse hasn’t visited OU yet, he has been on the Baylor campus informally (the Chaparrals’ semifinal game was at McLane Stadium last year), and he’s been to Texas a number of times and really liked it.
“Just the culture about their football team,” he said. “Their whole city and most of the state has their back. Just the support that the whole program has from its fans is amazing.”
It was an emotional week and a bit of a whirlwind for Greathouse, and more big-time offers are headed his way. But Dodge’s advice has been to stay grounded.
“My deal with Jaden is, every time one of these happens, we celebrate a little bit,” Dodge said, “and I tell him, ‘I’m so proud of you. But let’s stay humble and stay hungry.’ That’s our motto: stay humble, stay hungry. ‘Let’s not have this define us.’ “
Now the plan is to team him with 2022 quarterback Cade Klubnik, who holds offers from Arkansas, Auburn, Baylor, Virginia Tech, Wisconsin and others, and go after another state title.
No reason for Greathouse to look too far down the road.
“We’re gonna have a whole lot of fun with him here at Westlake High School,” Dodge said.
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