In two seasons, wide receiver Ryan Broyles frequently has thrilled Oklahoma coaches and fans with spectacular returns. But no return was more thrilling than the one that just occurred.
Broyles was eligible for early entry into the NFL because he redshirted in 2007. And his draft stock would have been boosted after he had 13 catches for 156 yards and three touchdowns in a Sun Bowl victory over Stanford. Plus, he saw firsthand what can happen to star players who shun the NFL draft. Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford and tight end Jermaine Gresham were projected as high first-round picks after brilliant performances in the 2008 season. They chose to stay in school but both were injured, with Gresham missing the entire ’09 season.
Still, Broyles opted to stay at OU, which ensures that next season the Sooners will have one of the nation’s most explosive players. He has the speed to beat cornerbacks deep and the moves to turn short passes into long gains.
“I really didn’t give [entering the draft] too much thought,” he said. “I submitted my papers to see where I’d go, but they said I should come back.
“I can get faster and I definitely can get stronger and I definitely can get bigger. I’m not ready for the NFL. I still have some things to prove.”
Broyles already has proved himself in many ways. Last season, he ranked third in the country by averaging 15.9 yards per punt return. That included an 87-yard touchdown against Oklahoma State. He also had 1,120 yards receiving and 15 touchdowns despite missing the game against Baylor and being limited against Miami and Texas because of injury.
He has proved himself off the field, too. Broyles was suspended in 2007 by Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops after Broyles was arrested for stealing gasoline from a convenience store. He’s had no other off-field incidents.
“That was my freshman year,” Broyles said. “Hopefully, everybody has forgiven me. I’ve had no other trouble since I’ve been here. I’ve learned life’s lessons. I’ve matured.”