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Union grad Mead's patience may pay off for Sooners in 2017

2013 KTUL Tulsa's Channel 8 Ford Award nominee and Union grad Jeffery Mead could have a breakout year in his senior season at OU. (KTUL)

Some of OU's most recently successful players have come at wide receiver.

Sterling Shepard caught 86 passes for 1,288 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2015. He impressed the New York Giants enough to select Shepard in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft.

And last season, Dede Westbrook's 80 receptions for 1,524 yards and 17 touchdowns made him a finalist for the Heisman Trophy. So if it's all about "next man up", this fall could be the anticipated breakout for Union grad Jeffery Mead.

"He's steadily improved his whole career," new head coach Lincoln Riley said. Riley was OU's offensive coordinator in the two previous seasons.

"There's just never been any big jumps with [Mead]," Riley explained. "But there has been constant improvement and buy-in with him. He's done a good job of leading that group. Again, he's kind of like Jeff Badet right now. He's just locked in a tight battle with these guys."

And it's been a long wait. Mead never made a collegiate start until last season. And in his nine appearances (seven starts), Mead only caught 10 passes. Granted, he averaged 15 yards a reception and scored three touchdowns too.

But in a time where more people expect instant gratification, #15 has managed to stay the course.

"There is a lot of character involved in it," admitted Riley.

"A lot of guys, especially this day in age will just transfer and take the easy way out. A lot of guys don't want to fight through it. It shows how much he wants to be here and how much this program means to him. And we've seen that in the way he's worked."

Whether Jeffery Mead ends up being an impact player for the Sooners this fall, this appears to be a very talented receiver corp. Which gives OU that much more depth and this coaching staff that much more confidence as they head into this season.

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