There were some obvious names to choose as breakout stars for Oklahoma in 2020. Because of COVID-19, though, you’d be hard-pressed to think of a freshman.
Wide receiver Marvin Mims is just different, and he showed why in separating himself from the rest of the pack en route to becoming one of the best freshmen in the entire country.
His numbers don’t tell the whole story, but it’s a nice little add-on in talking about how well Mims played despite the difficult situations.
He finished the season with 37 catches for 610 yards and nine touchdowns, to go along with averaging 12.5 yards per punt return.
All the returning talent that was coming back in the receiver room for 2020 had some second-guessing Mims’ decision or how quickly he could make an impact. He had the penchant to make the big-time play over and over and earned his respect.
“He made the most competitive catches in the group… He made the ones he was supposed to make,” said head coach Lincoln Riley last week. “Then he made several that were competitive balls. That’s a lot of times what separates elite players. He was able to pick it up mentally and kept producing.
“We honestly probably should have played him a little bit more than we did. He did a nice job of it. Now there’s several plays that he didn’t make that we would fully expect him to make more of and more of as we go on, but certainly a good start.”
Mims put up some of the most ridiculous numbers as a senior in high school, but you never know how that’s going to translate when you arrive on campus. He was a mid-year enrollee and early reports were good, but then COVID-19 struck and canceled everything.
It was only natural to assume there’s no way he could have developed the type of relationship with quarterback Spencer Rattler necessary to become a main target. No way he could navigate through those tough circumstances and see the field.
But he did.
“When he got here, we just started clicking automatically with chemistry,” Rattler said. “We started fall camp and me and him… There are a couple of guys you just click with better than others. Marvin was one of those that stood out to me when we started fall camp last year. Great player. Does his job on all occasions. Can do it all.”
Now the expectations are different. Nobody is hoping for Mims to put up numbers, it’s going to be expected. Mims did the majority of his production in the first half of games, now it’s about getting more snaps and making them count when it matters most.
Mims understands that. He’s not looking to be the same player he was in 2020. Only a sophomore, but he’s already being looked upon as a leader in the room.
With four receivers hitting the transfer portal since the end of the season, there’s not a lot of depth there. Players are going to get their chance, and Mims is accepting the fact that as he’s still learning, he needs to take the freshmen under his wing.
Now nobody is questioning why he went to OU. With a full offseason and spring practice schedule set, Mims is eager to take that next step.
“I want to keep building on it,” Mims said. “Anything lower than that would be, in my eyes, if I did the same stuff did last year, then there’s no growth. So, I want to keep as a player and leader on this team, and just as a teammate for everyone else.
“This spring, I’m really excited about it. It’s something that I haven’t done and something that some of the older guys above me haven’t done either because of the timetable. I just like the extra practices, getting more stuff with the coaches, just getting to the offense more, just know the things around me, instead of my personal job and the other things guys are doing around me.”