OU football: Theo Wease making a name for himself in Sooners' crowded receiving corps
Doing some reflecting after OU’s 37-30 loss at Iowa State on Oct. 3, Sooners redshirt freshman quarterback Spencer Rattler came to a realization.
He’d thrown to sophomore receiver Theo Wease only twice and none of those before the fourth quarter.
“I told myself after the Iowa State game I need to get the ball to Theo more,” Rattler said. “That’s one of our best weapons right there.”
Wease certainly hadn’t looked it at that point.
Part of OU’s five-star wide receiver recruiting haul in the 2019 class, Wease had almost become the afterthought of that group.
Jadon Haselwood emerged with several strong games last year, including against Texas Tech. Trejan Bridges scored a pair of touchdowns as a freshman, and briefly made the switch to defense before being suspended before the bowl game.
Wease had a couple of touchdown catches of his own but had just eight catches for 136 yards as a freshman.
After recording just one 6-yard catch against the Cyclones, Wease had seven catches for 93 yards this season.
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But in the two games since, Wease has certainly shown himself to be a major weapon for the Sooners, with 11 catches for 139 yards in wins over Texas and TCU.
Heading into Saturday’s game at Texas Tech (7 p.m., Fox), Wease is beginning to fulfill the promise he showed at Texas high school power Allen as the nation’s No. 3 wide receiver in the 2019 class.
That improvement — and Rattler’s emphasis on getting Wease the ball — was particularly evident in the third quarter of the Red River Showdown.
Wease had four catches including a pair of big third-down conversions on a drive that turned out to be the longest touchdown drive by the Sooners in more than a decade.
“(That) was an important game for him because he made so many big, critical catches in that game and kind of made them in different ways,” OU coach Lincoln Riley said. “That’s been key. I think he’s becoming a more complete receiver. He’s still got a lot of growth to go but he’s making tough, competitive catches.”
The third of Wease’s catches was the most impressive, as he leapt high between a pair of Longhorns defenders for a first down on third-and-9.
It’s not just Rattler that has confidence in Wease. In the second quarter of that game, Tanner Mordecai’s first two throws went to Wease, the second going for a 13-yard gain after Wease caught it behind the line of scrimmage, made a defender miss quickly and then bowled forward for a few more yards after being hit.
Last week against TCU, Wease added a different element, showing speed to create quick separation on a 44-yard first-quarter catch. Had Wease been able to keep his balance, the play might’ve gone for much more. He added a 33-yard catch later and finished with three catches for 87 yards.
One of the hallmarks of CeeDee Lamb’s game — in addition to his acrobatic catches and footwork that allowed him to elude defenders and stay in bounds for extra yards — was his ability to make an impact without the ball in his hands.
That’s something that fullback Jeremiah Hall has noticed growing in Wease especially in the last month.
“We as an offense have always known that he is a great player when he catches the ball and breaks in the open field and all those type of things,” Hall said. “But one of the things I’ve noticed is he’s been helping the offense by being in the right place at the right time, not just with the ball.
“He’s come a long way.”