August 25, 2007

Receiving much attention

He hasn't even played a game for Oklahoma State yet and already Dez Bryant is big story for the Cowboys.

So much so, some of the stories seeping out of fall camp centering around Bryant have him up there with Paul Bunyan or Pecos Bill.

Well, maybe a few rungs below that. After all, he's not shifting the route of the Mississippi or lassoing a tornado. But a freshman can only do so much so soon, right?

One of the highlights of the last recruiting class, Bryant was ranked as the No. 54 prospect nationally by Rivals.com. He was also ranked the 9th-best wide receiver prospect and the No. 12 player in all of Texas by Rivals. A SuperPrep and Parade All-American, the Lufkin, Tex., product caught 53 passes for 1,207 yards and 21 touchdowns as a senior in high school.
He was also a four-year member of the track team at Lufkin and has a 4.54 40-yard time and 35-inch vertical jump. So, after OSU received a commitment from him, fans started getting pretty excited about the hype surrounding the wide receiver.

And if a few of his teammates are any indication, the hype is legit. While freshmen are off-limits for media members to interview, finding out what some other Pokes have to say about him is not. And those teammates have been pretty impressed with the budding superstar during his short time in Stillwater.

"Dez is a specimen," Bobby Reid said. "He's only 18 years old, but he plays like he's 21 or 22 - like he's been here for awhile. I haven't seen him drop many balls."

Seeing it for myself in the early fall practices, this writer can back Reid up. During those open sessions in early August, Bryant seemed to make tough catches seem routine. On a couple, he had to re-adjust in mid-air and use full extension to reel in a pass. (Check out some amazing photos by our own Jeff Johnson if you have been living under a rock and haven't seen them yet.) He definitely seems to know where the ball is in relation to him and how to get to it.

The No. 2 OSU QB, Zac Robinson, agrees.

"He doesn't drop much," Robinson said. "The other day, he was on a go route and I threw it up there. After I threw it, I was like 'I don't know about that.' But he went up there and got it. So we're looking forward to him definitely contributing this year."

"Dez, he's proven every day that he's ready to make some plays," said fellow receiver Jeremy Broadway, who Bryant is listed behind on the latest OSU depth chart. "He's still learning, but when the ball is coming his way, he's going to catch it."

If there's a negative in relation to Bryant, it's that he is still green to the college game.

"He gets tired at times, trying to do too much after the catch, but he's still learning," Reid said. "I've learned to have patience with him throughout the summertime, because he's only been here two and a half months. As we get further into this, I'll get closer and closer with him. He's just wonderful kid to be around."

Bryant, who is listed at 6-2, 210 pounds in the OSU Media Guide, apparently has hands much larger than normal. So much so, his teammates are floored by it.

When asked about it, Robinson laughed some and then proceeded to show just how big he thinks they are.

"I would say that, if he were to put your hand around your neck like this (from behind with fingers angling toward throat), that it could probably go to about here," Robinson said, implying he thinks they'd go almost totally around his neck.

The sophomore from Colorado was shocked when he had an up-close run-in with the massive mitts.

"He shook my hand the other day, gave me a little high five or whatever, and I was just like wow," Robinson said. "My hands aren't very big, but his hands are like wow - a couple of inches longer than mine. I've never seen anything like it. He's like 6-2. It's not like he's a 6-8 power forward, you know? He's just a 6-2 receiver."

"His hands are actually bigger than D'Juan's," said Broadway, referring to the former Cowboy wideout with the last name of Woods. "It's so easy for him to make these one-handed catches. He's a great athlete."

With only one week to go before that big season-opener against Georgia, Bryant will soon have his chance to step on the field and back up all the hype around him. And, if his teammates are any indication, he'll live up to the hype as easily as he reels in a pass that should have gone incomplete.

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