NORMAN, Oklahoma — The offensive depth Oklahoma started August with is shrinking. Coach Lincoln Riley announced Saturday afternoon that junior wide receiver Nick Basquine suffered a season-ending Achilles injury.
“Terrible injury for Nick and definitely one that will affect us as a team. There’s no question about it,” Riley said during Sooners Media Day at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. “He was a great leader for us in that inside receiver room, a guy that was a really clutch player for us last year that we felt like was ready to go on to a bigger role, and one of those injuries that you just don’t see very often. So that was a tough one for us.”
Basquine played in all 13 games in 2016, logging 20 receptions for 265 yards and 2 touchdowns. During the season, he earned a scholarship after joining the program as a walk-on in 2014.
Sharing a similar background to Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield gave the tandem a bond. The quarterback started his collegiate career in 2013 as a walk-on.
— John Shinn (@john_shinn) August 6, 2017
“He works so hard and has worked for everything he’s gotten since he walked on campus,” Mayfield said of Basquine. “I can speak for all of my teammates when I say everyone thinks he’s one of the hardest workers in the program. He deserves everything he’s gotten and everything that comes his way.”
The injury leaves the Sooners without their fifth leading receiver from 2016. Basquine’s 20 receptions were the second-most among returning players, trailing only junior tight end Mark Andrews.
Basquine played one of the slot receiver spots. Riley indicated sophomore Mykel Jones will move into the vacated top spot.
“Luckily it’s at a position that we do have some depth and some young guys who we feel like can step up and fill that void,” Riley said. “We’ll get Nick rehabbed and look forward to getting him back next year.”
The season-ending injury was the second the Sooners have suffered since practice started this week. Junior offensive lineman Alex Dalton suffered a knee injury that will sideline him for the 2017 season.
According to Riley, neither injury was the result of contact during practice.
Kyler Murray warms up quickly
Sophomore quarterback Kyler Murray played baseball in the Cape Cod League throughout June and part of July. Riley said the former 5-star recruit returned to form quickly.
“Kyler is like that dog that’s sitting on the porch and then that car comes by. He doesn’t have to get up and stretch or anything. He’s full speed right now,” Riley said. “He goes from baseball to football and it’s really pretty remarkable what the guy can do athletically. Just to be able to see him transition back in as quickly as he does, he looks like he hasn’t missed any time at all. He looks like he’s only been doing one sport.”
There’s a two-way battle between Murray and sophomore Austin Kendall for the No. 2 quarterback spot.
“It’s been fun to see them compete at a high level. You can feel the difference in their play and their sense of urgency right now versus last year at this time, which has been a positive,” Riley said. “We’re looking for the guy that can be the most consistent, that can move the group. When he walks in there, if you didn’t know or you hadn’t seen us play offensively, you would think he was the starter and he’s the guy running the show.”
More for Mark Andrews
Tight end Mark Andrews’ 50 career catches are the most among returning receivers. His 14 career receiving touchdowns also is tops among current Sooners. Mayfield said he wants to get Andrews the ball more this season.
“If I was a smart guy, I would see that his catch-to-touchdown ratio would make me look a little better. So I would probably do that so our team would win,” Mayfield said.
— John Shinn (@john_shinn) August 6, 2017
Freshmen wide receivers make strong impression
Charleston Rambo and CeeDee Lamb were both 4-star recruits and two of the bigger pieces of the Sooners’ 2017 recruiting class. Riley said both stood out in the first week of practice.
“They are ahead of where most freshman receivers are,” the coach said. “They still make some rookie mistakes, but the thing you see is they are both very competitive and they are not hesitant. To see the way they’ve carried themselves, the way they’ve gotten better just here in the first few practices. They’ve got a long way to go. We never anoint anyone until they go out and do it on that field, but they’ve done a nice job. They have shown the potential and playmaking ability that we thought they had when we recruited them.”
Pushing to play
Riley isn’t interested in redshirting freshmen because of their age. He intends to follow former coach Bob Stoops of playing any freshmen that can contribute.
“It’s something we tend to be aggressive with,” he said. “I think if guys can make plays to help us win games, then we’re going to do it. We always ask two questions: one, are they ready? Most of them are ready physically. Maybe not to play at the elite level that they will later on in their career, but good enough to help us right now. The question is are they mentally ready? Do they have the maturity to handle all of this? If they are ready, then the next question is if there is a need for them. If those two questions are yes, then we play them.”
One position group where freshmen will struggle to move up the depth chart is the offensive line. The Sooners return seven players with starting experience from the 2016 season.
Riley said freshman center Creed Humphrey could buck the trend. The 4-star recruit enrolled started classes in January and is ahead of the rest in his class.
“Creed, it’s great that we had him here in the spring. He’s so much further ahead than where he would be,” Riley said. “He is unusually physically gifted for a guy his age. He could physically go in there right now and hold his own against most people.”