Can Deion Burks replace Drake Stoops as OU’s go-to receiver?

Can Deion Burks replace Drake Stoops as OU’s go-to receiver?

Thirty-five new Sooners, all having arrived since the Alamo Bowl 10 weeks ago, met with the OU press corps. Most of the newcomers were engaged. Some were enthusiastic. None beamed like Burks.

Berry Tramel

By Berry Tramel

| Mar 7, 2024, 8:00am CST

Berry Tramel

By Berry Tramel

Mar 7, 2024, 8:00am CST

NORMAN — The smile never left Deion Burks’ face.

The new OU receiver, a transfer from Purdue, sat high above Owen Field on Wednesday, in the Kerr McGee Stadium Club, answering questions about Jerry Schmidt’s torture chamber and the Oklahoma weather and his potential to be the Sooners’ next star receiver.

Thirty-five new Sooners, all having arrived since the Alamo Bowl 10 weeks ago, met with the OU press corps. Most of the newcomers were engaged. Some were enthusiastic. But none beamed like Burks.

“I can honestly say it’s been nothing but love since I first got here,” Burks said. “It’s crazy. Just being here is like ‘yeah, this is definitely where I want to be.’”

Burks claims that despite being raised in Michigan, he’s long had his eye on OU. Said he knew of Schmidt’s drill-sergeant routine and the Sooners’ long line of great receivers and even the Adrian Peterson seasons of 20 years ago, courtesy of his father’s fandom.

“Coming to Norman has kind of been easy to me, honestly,” Burks said. “Nothing but open arms and love here.”

Yep, Burks was a walking public service message for Brent Venables’ program.

Quarterback Casey Thompson, also newly arrived via the transfer portal, has connected with Burks, and I don’t mean by firing the pigskin. They sit together at meetings and talk frequently.

“Deion is someone I instantly connected with when he got here, just seeing the way he works, his energy, his positivity,” Thompson said. “He’s a leader.”

Will Burks be the leading receiver come autumn? Too early to tell. But it would be a great development for the Sooners.

247 Sports ranked Burks sixth nationally among transfer receivers. He had 47 catches for 629 yards and seven touchdowns for Purdue last season, his third as a Boilermaker.

The revamped Oklahoma offense — new quarterback in Jackson Arnold, new coordinator in Seth Littrell — would welcome those numbers for Burks in 2023. But he seems capable of more.

He seems like a Drake Stoops clone, only with more athletic ability.

Stoops soared into stardom last season, his sixth, and made all-Big 12. Now Burks figures to succeed Stoops as the Sooner slot receiver.

“I love him,” freshman quarterback Michael Hawkins said of Burks. “He’s so explosive coming off the ball. I haven’t seen anything like it.”

The OU receiver room is crowded. Lots of players who have played. Many of them have played a lot. Jalil Farooq has 86 catches over three seasons. Nic Anderson had 10 touchdown catches in 2023. Andrel Anthony had 27 catches and 429 yards in half a season before injury wrecked his 2023.

From that group might come Arnold’s go-to guy. But why not Burks?

“Deion Burks is as competitive a guy as we have on the team,” Venables said. “He’ll fit in really well with that group of guys.”

Burks is 5-foot-11, 196 pounds. So he’s bigger and faster than Stoops. We’ll see if Burks is as dependable. We’ll see if he can find open spaces the way Stoops did.

If so, maybe Burks is the next Sooner star.

“I feel like I am explosive,” Burks said. “If you do need that big third-down play, I could be that guy as well.”

Burks reeled off names like Marvin Mims, CeeDee Lamb and Hollywood Brown.

“All the great people that’s been here, and still awesome doing good at the next level, it’s a great thing to see,” Burks said. “Man, it’s a great attraction, because you just see the history of it.”

When asked what OU was getting with Burks, he said, “They’re going to get a player who’s adjusted to a Schmidty workout. OU DNA. Most definitely. They’re going to get a most explosive player. They’re going to get a hard-working player, a team player, at that. I love the offense. You’re going to get a speedy player, that’s smart as well, that knows where to be at in this spot.”

Burks was so personable, it didn’t even sound like bragging when he bragged.

Of course, you never know. In this event last year, linebacker Dasan McCullough stole the show with his personality and his potential. He seemed a star in the making after transferring from Indiana, Purdue’s arch-rival.

McCullough was a solid Sooner in 2023. But injuries mounted, and he wasn’t on a star track before he was banged up.

So March interviews do not always lead to September status. But high above Owen Field, Burks’ smile was wide and his future seemed the same.

Share with your crowd
Berry Tramel is a 45-year veteran of Oklahoma journalism, having spent 13 years at the Norman Transcript and 32 years at The Oklahoman. He has been named Oklahoma Sportswriter of the Year by the National Sports Media Association. Born and raised in Norman, Tramel grew up reading four newspapers a day and began his career at age 17. His first assignment was the Lexington-Elmore City high school football game, and he’s enjoyed the journey ever since, having covered NBA Finals and Rose Bowls and everything in between. Tramel and his wife, Tricia, were married in 1980 and live in Norman near their daughter, son-in-law and three granddaughters. Tramel can be reached at 405-760-8080 or at [email protected].

The latest from Berry Tramel

  • Thunder-Mavericks Game 3 exit survey: Does OKC need more Aaron Wiggins?

  • OU’s move to the SEC: Listing the things to look foward to

  • Ireland travelblog: Farewell to the Emerald Isle, which keep Americans coming

  • Is the Thunder-Mavs series headed down Minnesota-Denver Boulevard?

  • What’s the most exciting thing about the new-look Big 12 football?